President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
I am very glad to welcome you to St Petersburg. Thank you for finding an opportunity, like in 2019, to participate in the Russia–Africa summit personally. Of course, we regard your visit as a confirmation of your interest in developing relations between Russia and your country.
By the way, I recall our conversation in Sochi last June, when you came here as Chairperson of the African Union, and our detailed conversation back then about the prospects of Russian-African cooperation in general.
Let me remind you that this was when the idea was born to hold the second Russia–Africa summit, and we also talked about holding it in St Petersburg. You supported this idea and now we have implemented it.
Continuing the topic of your productive work as the previous Chairperson of the African Union, I would like to inform you that Russia will support the initiative, as I have already said, which you proposed last August: to give the African Union the status of a full member of G20.
As we have said many times, comprehensive development of relations with African countries is Russia’s foreign policy priority. We are consistently building them on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration of each other’s interests.
Mr President, I would like to emphasise that we consider Senegal to be Russia’s important and reliable partner in Africa. At the end of 2022, for the second year in a row, your country ranked first in terms of trade with Russia among the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It reached almost 1.5 billion US dollars, which is a good indicator. This is a very good trend that needs to be developed. And of course, we need to work on increasing the absolute figures as well.
There are opportunities to step up partnerships in agriculture, geological exploration, mining, energy, fisheries. I know that before coming to the summit here, in St Petersburg, you also visited Tatarstan. I hope that you appreciated the traditionally cordial Tatar welcome during this trip. Our brothers in Tatarstan know how to welcome guests. I am confident that you enjoyed it. In addition to regional cooperation, ties are being strengthened in the humanitarian sphere, primarily in education and culture. In the 2023/24 academic year, we will increase the quota of scholarships for Senegalese students to 75.
We are grateful for your support in creating a Russian media library at Dakar University. This is a unique pilot project, which, I believe, will not only help students master the Russian language and learn about its culture in Senegal, but will also become a starting point for implementing such programmes in other African countries. Our aim is to expand contacts in sports, including under the interdepartmental memorandum signed in February 2021. We are ready to provide the necessary assistance in training Senegalese athletes, though I do not know whether they need it, because African athletes are showing excellent results.
It should be specifically noted that Russia and Senegal are cooperating fruitfully at the UN. On the whole, I would like to emphasise that Russia treats with great respect the principled position of Senegal and other African states in favour of preserving stability and security in the world, forming a more just model of international relations and settling conflicts peacefully.
A little later, together with several other African leaders, we will continue the discussion we started here in St Petersburg in June on possible ways to resolve the situation around Ukraine in line with the African Peace Initiative, which we find very important.
President of Senegal Macky Sall (in Russian): Good evening, Mr President.
(Retranslated.) Thank you very much for inviting and receiving us. I would like to thank you warmheartedly and congratulate you on successfully organising this summit.
You are spending the entire day today – from 10 in the morning to almost 10:30 at night – on your feet, and we are working. We will continue our previous discussion.
This is my fifth trip to the great country of Russia: I came for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, then to attend the Russia–Africa Summit in 2019, then I was in Sochi in 2022, and finally we came here in June 2023 as part of the African Initiative. And today, I am here at the summit.
It is true that I went to Tatarstan on July 25–26. Head of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov received me. By the way, in March 2022 he made a visit to Senegal.
We have a very rich regulatory framework: about 30 agreements, but I think that we can still achieve better success in trade, mining, agriculture, science, hydrocarbon production, information and fisheries.
With regard to multilateral cooperation, I would like to sincerely thank you for your support for the Africa’s G20 membership initiative. This is in line with our vision. We need a more inclusive, more just world that reflects the realities of the 21st century.
And last year, when I was chairperson of the African Union, I sent you my proposal, to which you responded. And Russia, of course, was one of the countries that supported us: this status will be granted in October-November. We also persevere in our efforts to get a seat on the Security Council and fight for financial justice in the world.
Africans are suffering greatly from our financial problems, and this requires loans, and loans are expensive, while African countries are paying their debts. It seems to me that it is very important to study the situation in Africa: we need investments, and together with our partners, we must look at how to build long-term loans. We need infrastructure projects, such as the construction of hydroelectric power plants and railways, and some countries need nuclear power plants. This important infrastructure requires loans.
I think that internationally you can also help study these important African projects as part of the BRICS Bank. This is how we can promote cooperation between Russia and Africa, and this is how we see a multipolar world and international cooperation. This is precisely the reason why we are counting on you, on your initiative, on peace initiatives. We believe that this will contribute to a multipolar world where Africa will play a more important role, which is why I am here today.
We have worked hard today, and I know that we will continue this work. But I would like us, together with Russia, to be able to study the mechanism for buying oil products, the mechanism for buying fertilisers. We will also continue to advocate that fertilisers can be freely paid for, because if this is not the case, we will face famine. Various fertilisers, such as urea, have become very expensive, and this affects the quality of life of Africans and is reflected in shortages for example.
I know that a solution is close at hand. We complied with the decisions on the Black Sea deal, but we still need to find a way to make up for this together with Russia. Of course, we must discuss the supply of grain and fertilisers from Russia, but also grain from Ukraine, so that they are available to the whole world.
Thanks again, Mr President.