President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, colleagues,
I would like to welcome you in Moscow and the Kremlin once again. We have just held a meeting in the restricted format, where we discussed a range of issues. But the most important thing is that we stated our commitment to fully developing ties between Russia and South Africa, bearing in mind the history that links our nations. Russia always occupied a special position in Africa, and has always had great sympathy for Africa’s struggle for independence. Russia truly has no burden of the past and thus is open to finding new ways to take our relations forward while building on the rich history that it has with the African states. In this respect, relations with the Republic of South Africa are vital for us, taking into account the weight that our countries have in the international arena in the area of economic cooperation. Therefore, this will serve as a foundation to every aspect of our contacts.
We have deliberated international issues and will shortly review our bilateral relations and the economic projects that link our two countries to bring closer the objective we have just discussed. This objective is to transform our relations into a strategic partnership across the board. I believe this will benefit both our countries, and the situation in the world as a whole, considering that the world is not confined to individual regional organisations, the world has become multipolar, the world has become global, and a great deal depends on the interaction between such key players as the Russian Federation and South Africa.
We would like to discuss now various trade and economic projects. Some of them we have already reviewed in a restricted format, but I think the leaders of the Intergovernmental Commission will brief us on the work that has been carried out. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Intergovernmental Commission for their productive efforts and state our desire to discuss all the issues that we have reviewed already in an expanded format and in full.
President of South Africa Jacob Zuma: Your Excellency the President of the Russian Federation,
Ministers and esteemed delegations, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for the warm reception and the wonderful hospitality provided to my delegation and I.
This is my first official visit to Russia as President of the South African Republic. My last visit to this beautiful country was in 2006. It feels good to be back, given the rich historical ties between our two countries and peoples.
Let me start by extending our deepest condolences on the tragic death of many of your people in the heatwave that has engulfed this country. We share the pain of the Russian people in the face of this tragedy.
Mr President, the Russian Federation and South Africa share deep ties, forged in the struggle for freedom.
Some of our key liberation heroes as J.B. Marks, Moses Kotane and Ivon Jones lie buried here in Moscow. Their graves are evidence of the historical ties between our two countries and peoples.
I am accompanied by eleven Ministers and more than 100 businesspeople on this visit. The size of the delegation underlines the importance that we attach to our bilateral relations.
This visit confirms South Africa’s commitment to consolidate and enhance bilateral relations with Russia within the context of the Treaty of Friendship and Partnership that was signed in 2006. This Treaty affirmed the South Africa-Russia strategic partnership.
Based on these instruments, we want to see regular improved political dialogue between our two countries.
We want to see enhanced economic and social cooperation. And we want to work for deeper cooperation on the international front, especially on multilateral issues.
We are satisfied with the progress made thus far, especially given the recent successful Ministerial political consultations.
The Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation meeting and the South Africa-Russia Business Forum discussions have also progressed well.
These interactions are critical for South Africa’s key domestic priorities, as well as Russia’s economic modernization and diversification policy priorities.
We are firm in our commitment to further boost trade relations between our two countries.
Our business delegation represents diverse sectors to allow a wider scope for interface.
These include agro-processing, aviation, banking and finance, defence and aerospace, energy, engineering, information and communications technology, construction, logistics, medical and health services and tourism.
We see great potential for taking economic relations forward. It is encouraging that despite the global economic crisis, overall trade between the two countries increased from more than four hundred million US dollars in 2008 to more than 500 million US dollars last year.
It is our wish that this visit should contribute to further enhancement of these trade relations.
We also value our cooperation on science and technology. The launching of the South African satellite at the Russian space facility in Kazakhstan in September 2009, took our cooperation on space research and technologies to a higher level. We must build on that success.
Education is a key priority for the South African government. Success in education will determine the scope and extent of the country’s growth and development.
We want to explore some of the existing proposals and develop sound cooperation in higher education and training between our two countries.
Mr President, during this visit, we look forward to signing agreements that will further develop cooperation in other fields and we are very pleased with this development.
We will take agricultural cooperation forward through the signing of the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Plant Quarantine.
The movement of people between the two countries will be further promoted through the Agreement regarding the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic or Official Passports.
We are also happy that we have finalized the Memorandum of Understanding between our respective space agencies for cooperation in the Field of Earth Observation.
These agreements will certainly improve our framework for cooperation and we have to ensure effective implementation.
At a multilateral level, our two countries support the promotion of equal distribution of power and influence in the global political and economic systems.
We share the belief in rules-based multilateralism, the pivotal role of the United Nations in global security matters; sustainable development; free and fair trade, and an equitable international economic order.
As you would be aware, South Africa will, in October 2010 seek re-election to the non-permanent UN Security Council seat for 2011 to 2012. Given our shared view about the need to transform the UN system, we look forward to working with you in this regard.
We would like this visit to deepen Russian partnership on the African Agenda.
Allow me to applaud Russia’s role in peace and security in the African continent. This is not surprising given Russia’s historical and progressive relationship with many countries within our continent.
Peace and stability in Africa and world are paramount, and all nations have to work together to achieve these goals. Any instability in any part of the world is bound to have an impact in other corners of the globe.
It cannot be ignored and viewed as a distant event which has no bearing on the rest.
We also wish to remind the Russian Federation of the trade, investment and technical cooperation opportunities in Africa.
There are many projects linked to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, which is our socio-economic development blueprint for the continent.
Africa, with its one billion-people strong market, has to be viewed by the developed North as an economic partner and an investment destination of note.
Africa is open for business. We should not be viewed as a continent with countries that are recipients of aid only.
As South Africa, we are strategically located on the southern tip, as a gateway to the rest of the continent.
South Africa has just successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. It was a most exciting period in our country, as we hosted thousands of soccer fans and tourists from all over the world.
The success of the Soccer World Cup, the first on African soil, has helped us to prove that the African continent is capable of hosting events of this magnitude. It signalled a new beginning and a new era of opportunities for the African continent.
We wish Russia well in the bid to host the 2018 Soccer World Cup tournament.
We are ready to share our experiences with the Russian Federation and to offer technical assistance, if required, should Russia win the bid.
Let me use this opportunity to wish you well for the winter Olympics in Sochi. We are convinced that the Olympics will be a huge success, given the expertise that exists in the Russian Federation and the preparations made thus far.
Thank you for the invitation. We are happy that we will be able to take our warm and historical relations forward.
We look forward to very successful deliberations during this visit.
I thank you.