President of Angola Jose Eduardo Dos Santos (as translated into Russian): Mr President of the Russian Federation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to start by thanking the President of the Russian Federation for accepting our invitation to visit the Republic of Angola. It was a great pleasure for me and for the members of Angola’s government to meet you, Mr President, and to spend this afternoon in your company.
Your views of Africa and its problems, your vision of possible solutions and also opportunities for strengthening security on our continent made a deep impression on us.
It is not hard to find common understanding when the presidents of two friendly countries meet. This was precisely the case today. Some would say this is because we talked for such a long time. We talked for such a long time because we had such a wide range of matters to discuss, issues concerning the African continent’s problems, international politics in general, the financial and economic crisis that has affected the entire world, rebuilding the financial and currency system, and bilateral relations, of course. We agreed to hold regular meetings to discuss all of these different matters and look for ways to change and improve the situation. These meetings will take place at various levels, not just at the top level. We will begin with meetings between our economic and financial specialists, and between specialists in international relations.
We listened with great interest to Russia’s views on the possibility of establishing an international energy security system. We will follow attentively developments regarding these proposals and will make our contribution too.
On the question of bilateral relations, we have noted progress in their development, but we are aware at the same time that they are still far from making full use of our countries’ cooperation potential. We have just signed a number of agreements that will help to build up our cooperation, and we have also instructed our governments and specialists to look for new areas in which we can work together.
As part of this joint work, we discussed, of course, the possibilities for project financing, loans and investment, and we have decided to instruct our finance and economy ministries to make a more in-depth study of financing possibilities, from both public and private sources.
Mr President, I want to thank you and the entire Russian delegation for the friendly and creative approach you have taken to our work. You can count on us.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
Before making a few remarks about our work today, I would like to thank President of Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos once again for his invitation to visit Angola and discuss the issues that we wanted to address during these talks.
Earlier, Mr President and I spoke about our countries’ long history of close relations; our friendship is time-tested. At the same time, even countries with close, friendly dispositions toward one another must occasionally check up with one another, meet, and discuss issues at various levels, including the highest level. And so, today, Mr President and I discussed nearly every aspect of Russian-Angolan relations.
It is a fact of modern life that we are all very closely interlinked. Today, it is impossible to fence ourselves off with walls. The economy is transparent, and we go through economic upturns and, unfortunately, slowdowns together. Thus, a significant part of our discussion with Mr President was devoted to the global situation and to current and future global financial architecture. We came to the conclusion that the current financial architecture is unfair; it requires modernisation, or perhaps even the creation of new architecture. We discussed the steps that can be taken in this direction, since the success of this undertaking would depend on our work. We agreed to continue consultations on this topic. This is important for both the Russian Federation and Angola, as well as African countries overall.
Our countries are major suppliers of energy resources, particularly oil. We spent a lot of time talking about this issue, discussing our contacts and coordination in this sector. I feel that this is very useful. We believe that it is right to continue this kind of joint work.
It is true that the current system for energy regulation is far from perfect. It is very much geared toward the interests of just one side of the energy chain, namely the energy consumers, while our countries are major energy producers. And naturally, we are interested in having greater fairness in the legal regulation of these issues. We need to continue working on this matter.
And finally, we spent a significant amount of time on discussing our bilateral relations, speaking about the economic and humanitarian aspects. We came to the following conclusion: our relations are good, but in terms of their depth, their content, they require some serious improvement. We must try to expand our economic relations through new large-scale projects. Today, some of these projects crystallised in the documents signed.
Still, the work has only just begun, because we understand that there is a long way to go between signed documents and actual results. But what’s most important is that we are gaining momentum in our economic cooperation.
You already know in part what is involved here. Our agreements cover new projects in energy, minerals exploration, and high technology, in particular building a satellite communications system, as well as a number of other projects that we want to carry out, and that can take our economic cooperation to a new level. We have the desire and we have the possibilities. We do need to reflect now on setting up new financial mechanisms. This is something the President and I discussed in considerable detail, and we have issued the according instructions to our governments.
We discussed the global situation, of course, the African continent’s problems, regional platforms for cooperation, current problems that can be solved by our countries or by the international organisations in which our countries take part – regional organisations and the United Nations. We are fully satisfied with this work and we will continue our joint discussions.
I am absolutely confident and agree entirely with my colleague, the President of Angola that this visit by the President of the Russian Federation to Angola will give new impetus to our relations and take them to a new level. This is unquestionably in our peoples’ interests and in the interests of everyone in Africa, everyone who faces difficulties today. We are ready to keep building up our ties and we are completely satisfied with the results of today’s talks.
Question: Economic cooperation would naturally have been at the top of your agenda today. Russia is a global leader in oil production and exports, and Angola is a regional leader, a leader in the region we here call sub-Saharan Africa. What specific projects did you agree on? Did you discuss any further coordination between Russia and OPEC, agreement on production volumes perhaps, taking into consideration the role Angola is playing now in this organisation?
Jose Eduardo Dos Santos (as translated into Russian): We did indeed discuss cooperation between Russia and OPEC. This is something we examined because, first, Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil producers and, second, Russia is a major global player on the international stage and also a major economic power.
Given Russia’s political influence on the international arena, having Russia and OPEC keep working together, ensuring that OPEC takes into account Russia’s views when planning its actions, and strengthening cooperation between Russia and OPEC is really very important. It is necessary in order to protect oil producers’ interests on the international stage, and in order to reach agreement on price regulation mechanisms and market demand and supply.
We also discussed bilateral cooperation in the oil production sector. We examined Russian oil companies’ cooperation with Angolan company Sonangol and concluded that these ties are very productive. We would like to develop them further and also come up with new forms of cooperation.
Of course, we looked at not just our current cooperation in oil production but also at opportunities for other kinds of energy production, not just oil production. We discussed various kinds of modern energy production.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will just add a few words to what the President of Angola said.
Of course we discussed various forms of cooperation, including cooperation between our two largest state-owned companies, Zarubezhneft and Sonangol.
There are a number of projects to develop and find new hydrocarbon deposits. This is certainly of interest to us because we are very big players in the oil market, where we act as energy suppliers. But this does not mean that we cannot cooperate in this field. In addition, our hydrocarbons are delivered to different markets.
We discussed other fields of energy cooperation as well, and hope to be able to implement the ideas we discussed in new projects which, shall we say, are worthy of the modern age.
With regard to our cooperation with OPEC everything is clear: Angola is a member country of OPEC, Russia is an observer and coordinates its work with the organisation of oil-exporting countries. This work is particularly important in the current situation as fairly major changes are taking place in the oil market.
We discussed how pricing occurs in the oil market and concluded that the current arrangement is far from optimal, because it is rather complicated, opaque and, ultimately, may result in serious, sometimes dramatic changes in oil prices — changes by a factor of 2 or more.
This is certainly reflected in the oil market, the interests of consumers and producers, and ultimately in global economic development. Therefore, in my opinion coordination in the oil market among OPEC nations on the one hand and the Russian Federation on the other, including the pricing of oil, is very important and relevant.
A great deal remains to be done in this respect – we must continue this work and we are not entirely satisfied with the current situation in the market. I would put it quite simply: the oil market should not depend on the situation in any one economy.
Question: Mr President, how would you evaluate the overall situation in Africa and Southern Africa, in particular? We know that Africa is currently in a very difficult situation. What is your vision of it?
And second: is it possible to expect that the joint Russian-Angolan bank Banco VTB Africa SA (VTB Africa) will operate more efficiently and be able to affect the development of the Angolan economy?
Dmitry Medvedev: The head of the bank is here but I am prepared to answer for him: I would say that since the CEO is here of course the bank will operate more intensively and more efficiently in the future, otherwise there would have been no point in coming.
We see Southern Africa and Africa in general as one of the most promising though difficult regions for implementing very large-scale, attractive and interesting projects, projects that would benefit both Africa itself and the commercial banks and other companies who work in this market.
Regarding the overall situation, of course I have quite new impressions because I am in Africa for the first time. I think my impressions are as follows: first, Africa is a continent developing very dynamically, a continent on the rise, and second, Africa today is composed of sovereign, powerful countries which have chosen their own development paths.
And even the conflicts which persist on the African continent are those associated with rapid economic growth, national identity and the economy of the countries where they occur.
Third, Africa has a lot of problems. These are problems that we talk about in different venues, in both bilateral and regional forums. They are all familiar to everybody and need to be addressed and resolved urgently.
What are these problems? Of course they are familiar to all so I will mention only some of the most urgent ones: hunger, poor health care, a large number of diseases, crime, and the need to take the most decisive measures to promote education.
Russia has never been a colonial power, but we nonetheless believe that it is time to repay Africa. At the same time, African countries need to promote self-development and create effective financial instruments.
That is why we meet with leaders of major African countries in various leading international forums and discuss these issues, including with my colleague, President of Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos.