Iliyas Magomed-Salamovich Umakhanov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation and President of the Russian Committee of Solidarity and Cooperation with the Peoples of Asia and Africa (RCSCAA), met with the heads of diplomatic missions of African countries accredited to Moscow to review the year’s results and performance, as well as to share views and information on further mutual cooperation in 2018.
Heads of 35 diplomatic missions of African countries took part in this meeting.
According to Mr. Umakhanov, it is of great importance to strengthen cooperation in order to unite, face and confront new global challenges and problems, the main ones being extremism and terrorism, attempts to interfere in sovereign states’ internal affairs and to undermine their independence.
Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation, Galina Nikolaevna Karelova, Director of the Africa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Andrey Vadimovich Kemarskiy, Director of the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irina Olegovna Abramova, Vice-President of the Russian International Affairs Council and Chairman of the RCSCAA Board of Trustees, Alexander Sergeevich Dzasokhov, Dean of the ambassadors of African countries and the Ambassador of the Republic of Madagascar to the Russian Federation, Eloi Alphonse Maxime Dovo, Dean of the ambassadors of Arab countries, Deputy Dean of the ambassadors of African countries and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Russian Federation, Abdelkader Lesheheb, the Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the Russian Federation, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the Russian Federation, Grum Abay Teshome, and the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Ihab Ahmed Nasr, addressed those present at the meeting.
According to Eloi Alphonse Maxime Dovo, Dean of the ambassadors of African countries and the Ambassador of the Republic of Madagascar to the Russian Federation, “the ambassadors of African countries to Moscow are satisfied with the current policy of the Russian government aimed at strengthening relationships with Africa and are pleased to state that Russia-Africa cooperation has gained new momentum over the past year.”
However, African ambassadors expressed some concerns about media coverage of events taking place in Africa, since, more often than not, articles and reports highlight poverty issues and wars, other than new reforms and achievements.
“People may form a negative opinion about Africa and that needs to be changed. Africa mostly remains out of the public eye in Russia and vice versa. We would like to change the present state of affairs and present Russia in a much more positive way. And we have sufficient opportunities to do so,” said Steve Davies Ugbah, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Russian Federation.
“We wish and hope for Russia to return to Africa,” said Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Ambassador of Rwanda to the Russian Federation. “We would be glad a more comprehensive cooperation with Russia and a more systematic presence of Russia on our continent. We are looking forward to a more active participation in preparation and implementation of specific bilateral projects that could yield real results. We do not want to lose economic and scientific support provided by Russia. We wish to maintain that friendship and cordiality that we have always felt in our relations with Russia over the last decades.”
In turn, Irina Abramova, Director of the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, drew attention to the importance of formulating a strategy to make Russia’s presence in Africa more pronounced. In her opinion, Russia needs to return to Africa; however, at present there is no clear mechanism for such a return.
Among the most important areas of cooperation are “trade and economic and investment cooperation. Russian companies are well represented on the African continent, mainly in energy and oil and gas sectors, as well as in geological exploration and mining industries. It is clear that we are not using our potential for further economic cooperation to the full. And, with that in mind, we look forward to the support of our African partners in the search for mutually beneficial cooperation projects,” said Andrey Vadimovich Kemarsky, Director of the Africa Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In conclusion, Mr. Umakhanov encouraged diplomats and members of parliaments of African countries to cooperate more actively by participating in international events.