President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, colleagues,
I am very glad to meet you in person. We had contacts, talked on the telephone, but this is your first visit.
At the beginning of our meeting today, I would like to thank you for coming to this event, the Russia–Africa summit, in person. I think it will be useful for all of us. It was very busy, with all our meetings, contacts and signing of important documents. It is important for Russia to maintain this level of cooperation with our friends in Africa. I hope that our meeting and our work that lasted for two, and now even for three days, has been useful for our African friends, too.
At the same time, we regard Mali as a key partner in the region and share your interest in bringing bilateral relations to a completely new level.
In particular, we note the high intensity of political dialogue: our foreign ministers communicate on a regular basis. The second Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference in March was attended by President of the National Transitional Council Malick Diaw. He met with Speaker of the Russian Parliament’s upper chamber [Valentina Matviyenko] and State Duma Speaker [Vyacheslav Volodin].
Mr President, our objective is to step up our trade and investment ties. Unfortunately, we can see a certain drop here: our trade was not highly developed before, yet there has been a drop, though our trade with many African countries is on the rise. But there are successful examples, too. In March, we launched a joint project to mine lithium in the region of Sikasso: 75 percent was acquired by a Rosatom subsidiary.
Other promising areas include the development of the mining industry, energy, infrastructure and agriculture. All of this can be the subject of our joint work.
Whenever necessary, we try to support Mali both directly and through the relevant UN agencies. The Russian Government, in particular, has decided to allocate two million US dollars for purchase of food for our Malian friends through the UN WFP [World Food Programme].
We attach great importance, including as part of building up potential for the future, to our cooperation in education. We believe that this is important, because it creates a very good foundation for the future and, I hope, will help develop various industries and the humanitarian sphere after the graduation of specialists from our universities in the interests of Mali.
Malian specialists who graduated from Soviet and Russian universities – about 10,000 people – are still making a significant contribution to addressing problems of developing the republic’s statehood, national economy and social sphere.
We have decided to significantly increase the quota of Russian state scholarships for students from Mali for the current academic year: from 35 to 290.
We note that Russia and Mali have common approaches to key international and regional problems. Naturally, we hope that we will continue to stand together, like we do now, for compliance with international law and the preservation of the central role of the United Nations Organisation.
As far as I know, you have decided to stay a little longer in St Petersburg: tomorrow you will be able to attend the events held as part of Russia’s Main Naval Parade. I hope this will be interesting, too.
Interim President of Mali Assimi Goïta (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to introduce the members of my delegation.
(Introduction of the Malian delegation).
Vladimir Putin: Well then, our colleagues will introduce themselves too.
Go ahead, please.
(Introduction of the Russian delegation).
Assimi Goïta: Thank you, Mr President.
Your Excellency, President of the Russian Federation, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Russian delegation and members of the Malian delegation.
First, I would like to convey fraternal greetings to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, a great friend of Mali, and to sincerely thank you on behalf of the people and the government of Mali, and from me personally, for the invitation and a warm reception accorded to my delegation.
Mr President, our participation in the second Russia–Africa Summit points to the importance we attach to our historical exchanges with the Russian Federation. They are based on common friendship, respect, equality and equal rights. The assistance that your country is rendering to our country points to the friendship of our countries and our fraternal relations. It also demonstrates your personal involvement in establishing peace and stability in Sahel and, particularly, in Mali.
The process of recovery that we started in Mali since the beginning of the political transition should allow us to lay a firm foundation for harmonious development, avoid negative events and meet the aspirations of our people. Thus, owing to the trust and determination of the people of Mali and our inclusive process, I had the honour of introducing the new Constitution of Mali on June 22. We have moved to the fourth republic. Mali remembers its history and its partner relations with such countries as Russia.
Mr President, I am very happy about the quality of our relations in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare, education, science, geology, defence and security. We have four agreements on the economy, on higher education; this is an indication of our common striving to increase and raise the level of cooperation.
I would like to repeat how much I appreciate our trustworthy relations and military partnership with your country, which has allowed Mali to restore sovereignty and preserve the integrity of its territory. They also enabled our defence and security forces to act completely independently in upholding our borders.
Mr President, I would like to sincerely thank you for the grain shipments to my country. This points to the solidarity that your country displays towards our country as part of your decision to help Mali. Our country is one of the main recipients of Russian grain.
Numerous African countries, especially Mali, are suffering from the unprecedented pressure from several countries that are all but ready to introduce sanctions against us for our partnership with Russia – for our sovereign choice. We are stunned by this neocolonialist practice that must be curbed through a concerted effort at the international level. The Malian people sincerely appreciate the support of the Russian Federation because we are finally seeing in these serious, difficult times who our true friends are.
I would like to express solidarity with the Russian people for the sake of friendship between our countries because this friendship is sincere and free of any attempts to use it as a political tool. I would like to assure you that my people and I are always ready to work with you and the Russian people in order to promote our bilateral cooperation for the benefit of our people.