Russia ready to restore cooperation with African countries Ambassador of Equatorial Guinea, Jose Esono Micha Akeng, presenting his letter of credence to the President
R
ussian president Vladimir Putin has reiterated some aspects of Russia's foreign policy agenda with Africa in speech delivered on November 9, when receiving letters of credence from new foreign ambassadors including six from Africa. The six new African ambassadors are from Burundi, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mali and Somalia.

The credentials ceremony usually takes place twice a year. The previous ceremony was held on April 20. The ceremony marks the official beginning of the ambassadors duties in the Russian Federation.

Delivering his speech at the ceremony, Putin said Russia was ready to restore cooperation that included developing investment and deepening trade as well as increasing humanitarian assistance with African countries.

"I hope that your efforts to develop relations between the countries you represent and Russia will help to activate political dialogue, strengthen trade and economic ties, and expand humanitarian contacts," he told the gathering.

With Burundi, Putin pointed out that Russia's relations with the Republic of Burundi have always been friendly and would be discussing several cooperative projects in the oil and gas sector and in mining. Russia also wished for an early restoration of internal political stability and national accord in Burundi.

Russia seeks to develop ties with the Federal Republic of Somalia, noting significantly the government's efforts to achieve national reconciliation and harmony and to rebuild the economy and social sector.

"We support political dialogue with the Republic of Chad, all the more so as your country currently holds the African Union presidency. We look forward to President Idriss Deby's visit to Russia and are preparing for this occasion concrete agreements in trade, the economy and humanitarian areas," the Russian leader told the Ambassador of the Republic of Chad, Mbatna Bandjang, at the ceremony.

Russia has been cooperating with the Islamic Republic of the Gambia based on the principles of friendship and mutual respect, as a result valued the Gambian partners’ desire to expand bilateral ties in all different areas.

Russia and Equitorial Guinea have had excellent relationship. "In developing our friendly relations with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, we place great importance on cooperation on geological exploration, extraction and processing of hydrocarbons, including development of offshore fields," Putin said assertively.

With Mali, Putin noted “we are developing partner relations with the Republic of Mali in the political, trade, economic, cultural and other areas. In June this year, Russia supported the UN Security Council resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali.

Obviously, Kremlin's long term goals include developing all-sided cooperation with African countries but those goals have struck pitfalls. Policy experts have suggested that Kremlin has to substantiate its African policy agenda with consistency, activeness and support, and enhance participation in the economic development of Africa. At the same time, Russia needs to look at simplifying access to its market for African countries.

Quite recently, Putin acknowledged at the VTB Capital's Russia Calling Forum, that many countries had been "stepping up their activities on the African continent." At the same time, Putin said that Russia "could not and would not" cooperate with Africa "as it was in the Soviet period, for political reasons."

In his opinion, cooperation with the African countries may be developed on a bilateral basis as well as on a multilateral basis, through BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Republic of South Africa) in particular.

He noted further that the Russian authorities would support national companies aiming to work on the African continent. But so far, Russia has not publicly pledged any funds toward implementing its business projects and other policy objectives in Africa.

As already well-known, towards Africa's development, China has offered $60 billion, Japan $32 billion, India $25 billion so also investment funds have come from the United States and European Union.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

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