President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends and colleagues,
President el-Sisi, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome the heads of state and government that now chair the main regional organisations of Africa. I would also like to welcome the heads of their executive bodies.
Those present here include representatives of the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), the Group of Five for the Sahel intergovernmental organisation, and the African Export-Import Bank.
I would like to emphasise that Russia is taking an active part in the regional integration processes on the vast space of Eurasia and is part of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). We consider it important to discuss the prospects of cooperation between the EAEU and the African organisations represented here. Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission Board (EEC) Mr Sargsyan will share his views on this matter.
Incidentally, the EAEU has already established contacts with a number of African countries. Talks are underway on the creation of a free trade zone with Egypt and a memorandum on cooperation was signed with Morocco. Tomorrow the EEC will sign a memorandum with the AU Commission, thereby laying the foundation for multifaceted cooperation between two integration associations.
Naturally, Russia is willing to develop partnership with African regional organisations not only through the EAEU but also on a bilateral basis. I would like to mention in this context a memorandum on the basic principles of relations between Russia and the AU that will be signed here in Sochi. This document will map out guidelines of the major joint projects and initiatives in the political, trade, economic, social and humanitarian fields.
This is just one example of mutually beneficial cooperation. But we are interested in establishing and effectively developing cooperation with other African leading regional organisations too, for instance, the EAC. By the way, taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to wish its Chairman, President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, a very happy birthday! Let’s wish him all the very best. (Applause.) He is celebrating his birthday in our close-knit company but, regrettably, has to work.
In general, we hope that today’s discussions will be beneficial and will create prerequisites for reaching specific agreements on the development of cooperation between Russia and the EAEU and African integration associations.