President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends,
Welcome to Russia.
You know that Russia places special emphasis on its cooperation with South Africa and we have an excellent history of relations. But it is symbolic that our meeting today is taking place on the sidelines of the first Russia−Africa Summit.
We assign high priority to developing relations with your country and these relations are based on numerous fields of cooperation. They include the development of natural resources, energy, industrial production, transport, agriculture and humanitarian projects.
I am delighted to note that last year our mutual trade increased by 28.5 percent and reached $1 billion. But, of course, this is not enough. As I have already said at the plenary session, at a meeting with the people directly involved in business and the economy, that, of course, is not enough for the entire scope of the relations between Russia and the African continent, nor is it sufficient for our bilateral relations. The figure is too low. We can achieve much better results. I hope that our contacts today can give a boost to this development.
We coordinate closely at international platforms. We welcome South Africa’s efforts as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2019–2020. As the chair of the UN Security Council Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, your country, Mr President, is making a great contribution to ensuring stability on the continent.
This is your first presidential visit to Russia. We look forward to seeing you next May and July in St Petersburg for the 12th BRICS Summit. And I hope to see you very soon in Brazil, three weeks from now.
Welcome, Mr President.
President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa: Thank you very much, President Putin, for the wonderful words of welcome. It is indeed a joy and real pleasure to be here in Sochi. I did promise you that I would be coming. And it is wonderful to be in the beautiful setting of Russia here in Sochi. So my delegation and I are really overjoyed.
We obviously welcome this first Russia−Africa Summit because it gives us an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Russia but also to be part of this whole effort of strengthening Russia’s relationship with the African continent. So it is wonderful for us to be here.
We as South Africa, obviously, appreciate the wonderful relationship that we have had over a long period. Our relationship does not stem from yesterday. It spent many years. And it has been a relationship forged in struggle, and in many ways South Africa, free South Africa, is what it is today also largely because of the support that we got from the people of Russia and your Government. So thank you very much for the support. We also appreciate the continued friendship that exists between our two nations.
Obviously, today we appreciate your effort in bringing together all these African countries. And obviously, the platform that we are utilising is economic development, and we appreciate that. Africa being part of this effort, the Africa Free Trade Area presents an opportunity for African countries to participate with Russia in a meaningful way. And this for us is very important. And we, South Africa, remain committed to the strategic relationship with the Russian Federation which is underpinned by the principles of the Joint Declaration on the Establishment of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the Russian Federation, with a view to the elevation of the very multi-faceted ties between us, ties which touch on the dynamic cooperation in a number of areas, both at the bilateral level but, also importantly, at the international level.