President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, let me wish you a warm welcome to Russia and St Petersburg.
The Republic of Guinea is our longstanding and reliable partner in Africa. Mr President, it is a great pleasure to meet you in person. I want to thank you for coming here and taking an active part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Let me note that relations between our countries are developing very positively and the contacts between our foreign ministries show that we have very similar views on the situation in Africa and on current international affairs.
As for our economic ties, they are very modest for now in terms of value, but the trend is a good one and our trade increased 2.2-fold over the last year. Russian companies are already working on the market in Guinea and we know that other Russian companies are also showing an interest in entering your market and investing in your country. We will give them all the support they need and assist them in carrying out these plans.
President of Guinea Alpha Conde(retranslated): On behalf of my delegation and on my own behalf I would like to thank you, Mr President, for this chance to come to Russia. It is a great pleasure to be here in Leningrad, as St Petersburg used to be known.
We know that you recently celebrated the Victory Day anniversary. This is a very important date, very important for the Russian people. During those days, the Nazi hordes surrounded Leningrad and started a blockade of the city, one of the most ruthless sieges in human history, but the people of Leningrad did not give in and through their courage defended their right to life, helping the troops to break through the blockade. I did some research and learned that your father was among those who participated in this heroic defence of Leningrad. It is therefore a particularly great honour for us to set foot on the soil of this city, which is drenched in the blood of those who fought for Russia’s freedom and gave their lives for its great future.
With your permission, we will also go to Moscow to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Of course, if we go to Moscow, we will certainly take the opportunity to visit the Lenin Mausoleum, because I belong to that generation for whom Lenin was a key figure of tremendous importance.
Mr President, let me take this opportunity to tell you how much Southern Africa, and Guinea in particular, owe the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was the first country to recognise our independence. We struggled for this independence in difficult conditions, with the colonisers, including General de Gaulle, against us, and so we are very grateful to the Soviet Union not just for the material assistance we received, but also for the moral support and the teachers you sent to us to help us train the people who then went on to defend our independence.
I remember the relations that developed between the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe, and I am sure that we should not underestimate the Soviet Union’s contribution to these ties. We believe that you were destined to lead your country as president, and despite the many difficulties we have all encountered since the Soviet Union’s collapse, we are nonetheless moving forward and are ratifying various bilateral agreements that help us to make progress on the bilateral track.
When I was getting ready to come here, I said to the presidents of the neighbouring countries that when I meet with you, I would say on behalf of all of Africa’s peoples that we trust your leadership and we have faith in you. It is an exceptional honour for us to take our relations with Russia to the strategic partnership level. We are sure that this relationship should be a long-term economic partnership that will let us make a bigger impact on the economic side of our bilateral ties. Rusal will serve as the driving force for this development. The company already has a presence in our country, and I hope that it will be the locomotive that will pull along with it other carriages with other Russian companies.
What is important is that the relations between our countries depend above all on the goodwill of our countries’ presidents. It is a great honour for me to meet you for this first time. We have much work ahead. We have a joint commission that prepares bilateral agreements, and work is currently underway on many documents. I hope that you will take the opportunity to come to visit us in Guinea for the signing of some of these agreements. In any case, we want you to know that we would always be extremely happy to welcome you in our country.
Thank you for giving me this chance to visit your country. If there is a need to sign any agreements, I would be happy to do so here, as your guest, but you are always welcome to come to our country and we would be happy to prepare a package of agreements for your visit. Russia already has good relations with southern and eastern Africa and Angola, and with Guinea such solidly sustained contacts are not yet in place.
I would very much like Guinea to become Russia’s gateway to this part of the African continent, so that other countries would also show interest and see that it is possible and necessary to work together with us, and Russia could expand its activities from us to the neighbouring countries. Mr President, I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that we are ready to become your advance brigade that will help to ensure your entry onto the African continent.