President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
I am delighted to welcome you, Mr President. We keep in touch with you on a constant basis. Thank you for accepting the invitation to take part in the Russia–Africa summit.
Based on the time-tested traditions of Soviet-African friendship, we aim to consistently develop mutually beneficial ties with the countries on the continent and – as you know, I have repeatedly mentioned this – to expand cooperation in all areas: in politics, the economy and in the humanitarian sphere.
Mr President, we highly appreciate your sincere desire to promote Russia-CAR partnership across the board.
As I have said, you found an opportunity to come to St Petersburg, despite an important domestic political event in your country – the national referendum on a new constitution. I wish you a successful completion of the referendum for the benefit of the republic and its citizens. Events of such calibre are obviously aimed at enhancing domestic political stability, which is essential for development, including in the economy.
I would like to emphasise that cooperation between our countries has received a good boost in recent years. We consistently support the efforts taken by the CAR leadership to enhance national sovereignty and defence capacity, and tackle extremist and terrorist groups. We provide practical assistance to you and will continue to do so.
Regrettably, our trade and economic ties so far fall behind the general level of cooperation. But we are committed to taking efforts to improve the situation, including through promoting ambitious projects.
You arrived in Russia together with a representative delegation that includes members of your government. I hope their meetings with their Russian colleagues will be productive. We see significant potential in such areas as joint mining projects, development of energy and agro-industrial industries, and deliveries of Russian-produced equipment and agricultural machinery.
Mr President, as you know, we offer humanitarian support as well. In August 2022, a batch of food was donated to the republic as part of Russia’s voluntary targeted contribution under the UN World Food Programme.
We have noted Central African citizens’ growing interest in studying at Russian universities. To this end, we have increased the scholarship quota for Central African students from the Russian federal budget for 2023–2024.
The Russian House, a Russian cultural centre opened in Bangui in 2021, makes an immense contribution to the expansion of humanitarian ties through offering Russian language courses and organising educational events for Central Africans to get a better understanding of our history and culture.
Our countries share a common stance in the international arena; we coordinate steps on major regional and global issues and appreciate the support you offer to us within the UN as well as other international organisations.
Once again, I would like to thank you for being here with us today at the Russia–Africa summit in St Petersburg. Thank you.
President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadera (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President. On my own behalf and on behalf of my delegation, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the invitation we received. Thank you for hosting the Russia–Africa Forum. It is very important to us. It represents the expectations and hopes of all African countries and the Central African Republic, in particular.
I also want to focus on something you have already noted, the remarkable level of relations between the Central African Republic and the Russian Federation. Rooted in history, this cooperation has recently progressed by leaps and bounds. We want to thank you, the Russian Federation, the Russian Government and the Russian people for this. Thank you very much for the interest you show and for the support we continuously receive from the Russian Federation.
You know that recent years, including 2003 and 2013, were challenging for our country. It was fully controlled by armed groups in 2016; there were coup attempts and security problems. But thanks to the help from the Russian Federation, we now live in peace and stability. We genuinely appreciate this important support. Thank you on behalf of the people of the Central African Republic.
We wish to continue this cooperation. Our country still faces certain challenges today. I would like to remind you that, nevertheless, we have made progress and improvements thanks to this bilateral cooperation and your support. However, there is still a lot to be done to achieve actual success. We rely on you, Mr President, and hope that this bilateral cooperation will be intensified and will continue further in the future.
Indeed, our country faces a significant number of problems. Many cities in the CAR are fully liberated from terrorist groups but there are so-called “pockets” where these groups remain and the state has still to regain control of those territories.
We sincerely thank you, Mr President, for supporting us in the UN Security Council. You also mentioned this. You know that we are under unprecedented pressure, being target of misinformation campaigns. But thanks to the support of your representatives in the UN Security Council, the position of the Central African Republic can be defended. Thank you once again. If I remember correctly, your representative supported our position yesterday at the Security Council meeting on lifting the embargo on weapon supplies to the Central African Republic. I hope we will continue working on this issue because we were not satisfied with the proposed draft. I hope we will work together to ensure that the embargo is lifted. We believe it was imposed unfairly.
Our country is restoring its constitutional order. We have achieved significant progress. I believe that in the current conditions, extending the embargo humiliates the Central African nation as it legitimises terrorist groups by treating the terrorist groups on a par with the government. I believe it is unfair.
Once again, I sincerely thank you for your help. Thank you very much.
As for cooperation, we already appealed to you in the past and you approved fuel supplies. I think we have found common ground on this matter although there may be small obstacles. I really hope that you will be able to issue instructions on finalising this agreement.
I am familiar with one of your companies, Rosgeologia, with which we cooperate on geological prospecting and exploration. It is an important aspect for our country.