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Russia returns to Africa with a bang

BY OWN CORRESPONDENT

On October 23 to 24, 2019, the Economic Forum Russia-Africa Summit was held for the first time in Sochi, Russia.

More than 6000 delegates from 104 countries attended the summit, including more than 40 heads of African States, at least 120 Foreign Affairs ministers, more than 1 900 representatives of official foreign delegations and 1 400 representatives of Russian official business.

An exhibition was held on the sidelines of the forum where cooperation between Russia and African countries was discussed.

It was hosted on more than 6 000 square meters.

The exhibition brought together various sectors of the Russian economy: agriculture, heavy and light engineering, military and civilian equipment and much more.

In total, more than 35 official events took place in Sochi and more than 1,500 meetings of various levels were held.

During the two days, Russia and Africa signed more than 50 agreements worth above $12 billion.

Russians presented a map of Russian competencies for Africa, which included information and analytical software.

More than 170 Russian companies and organisations participated. The map summarised about 300 proposals in the field of medicine, subsoil use, the digital state, education, transport infrastructure, energy and agriculture.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said cooperation with African countries was strategic and long-term, and the development of relations with the continent and its regional organisations was one of the country’s foreign policy priorities.

Putin said Russia had consistently supported African liberation movements that “made a significant contribution to the formation of young states, the development of their economies and the creation of combat-ready armed forces.”

“Our cooperation, rooted in the period of the joint struggle against colonialism, is strategic and long-term,” he said.

“As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia intends to continue to actively participate in the development of the strategic line of the international community and practical measures to strengthen peace and stability in Africa and ensure regional security.”

Putin emphasised that the Russian side favours an increase in the role of African states in resolving local conflicts.

“At the same time, we invariably follow the principle:African problems have African solutions, which we spoke about several times with our colleagues,” the Russian leader added.

“Russia is set to strengthen cooperation with African states. Many Russian companies have long and successfully worked with partners from various sectors of the African economy and are determined to increase their presence in Africa. We, of course, will support such plans from the state level.”

Putin also said Moscow had written off debts owed by African countries worth more than $ 20 billion.

He noted that trade between Russia and African countries was now in the excess of $ 20 billion, but was still below expectations.

“It seems to me that this is too small. In Africa there are a lot of potential partners with good development prospects and with huge growth potential,” Putin added.

He said African countries were attracting more and more attention from Russian businesses.

“The development of business relations between Russia and African countries meets our common business interests,” Putin said.

Rossotrudnichestvo head Eleanor Mitrofanova said they were looking forward to more African students getting scholarships to study in Russia.

About 1,750 students are sent from Africa to study in Russia annually but authorizes say the figure can go up to 2 000 in the short term.

Putin praised the Russia-Africa summit as a business friendly meeting.

“The first Russia-Africa summit ended, summing up the results of two days of its work, we can say that this event really opened a new page in relations between Russia and the states of the African continent,” he said “The meeting was business, but at the same time friendly, if not emotional, (and) that created a special atmosphere for our discussion.”

The results of Russia – Africa Summit were reflected in the following Declaration:

Declaration of the First Russia-Africa Summit

October 24, 2019

We, the heads of states and governments of the Russian Federation and African states recognised by the United Nations (UN) (hereinafter referred to as the Russian Federation and African states), are the representatives of the leading African economic regional organisations, gathered on October 24, 2019 in Sochi (Russian Federation) to attend the first Russia-Africa Summit based on the friendly relations between the Russian Federation and African States and the traditions of the joint struggle for decolonisation and the establishment of independence of African States as well as on the rich experience of multi-faceted and mutually beneficial cooperation that meets the interests of the people being committed to the fundamental principles and objectives of the UN Charter, the norms of international law and noting the need for their strict observance by all states expressing their firm intention to contribute in every way to the achievement of international peace and security, the building of a more just and equal system of international relations based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, preservation of national identity and civilisational diversity, noting the convergence or similarity of approaches on many issues of the global and regional agenda, sharing and supporting the goals of African states as enshrined in their socio-economic programme “Agenda 2063”, adopted in January 2015 during the 24th Assembly of the African Union, as well as in the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” “Approved by the resolution of the UN General Assembly 70/1 of September 25, 2015, reaffirming the firm commitment to the progressive development of comprehensive cooperation between the Russian Federation, African states and leading African subregional organisations, acting in accordance with the norms of the national legislation of the Russian Federation and African states, we have agreed as follows:

Creating a dialogue partnership mechanism

1. In order to coordinate the development of Russian-African relations, establish the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, determine its highest body the Russia-Africa Summit, which will be held once every three years.

2. Between summits, hold in the Russian Federation annual political consultations of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and African states that are current, previous and future chairmen of the African Union.

Policy Cooperation

3. To develop an equal dialogue taking into account the interests of the Russian Federation and African states on the basis of the multilateral nature of the world order.

To oppose the revision of universally recognized principles and norms of international law and the UN Charter, as well as against the practice of taking unilateral measures and imposing approaches that undermine the common interests of the international community as a whole.

4. To cooperate closely in the implementation of the goals and principles of the UN Charter, to ensure the active role of the UN in international affairs, especially in terms of maintaining international peace and security.

Coordinate efforts aimed at reforming the UN, including its Security Council, as well as at enhancing the UN’s capacity to counter existing and new global challenges and threats.

5. Strengthen global governance, consider reforming the UN Security Council, taking into account geopolitical realities and with a view to making it more representative by ensuring the wide participation of African states.

6. To conduct both scheduled and extraordinary consultations between the permanent mission of the Russian Federation and the permanent missions of African states at the UN.

Continue to increase the level of contacts and coordination between Russia and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council from among African states in order to jointly promote common interests.

7. To develop cooperation within the framework of other international organizations, make wider use of the practice of mutual support in elections to their governing bodies and in making decisions on issues of particular importance to the Russian Federation and African states.

8. To promote the deepening of the BRICS – Africa partnership, the interaction between the BRICS and African states, aimed at strengthening the collective mechanisms of global governance within the framework of a multipolar system of international relations with the significant role of developing countries and countries with emerging markets, as well as contributing to their sustainable social -economic development in the conditions of the fourth industrial revolution.

9. Intensify Russian-African inter-parliamentary contacts, coordinate efforts with a view to adopting decisions and resolutions positive for the Russian Federation and African states during international parliamentary events.

To facilitate the establishment of a regular dialogue between the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the national parliaments of African states, and to promote the formation of bilateral friendship groups between them.

10. To expand interpersonal contacts between Russia and African states, using the opportunities of non-governmental organizations and various forums, including youth ones.

Security Collaboration

11. To promote the expansion of cooperation in countering traditional and modern security challenges, primarily international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as well as extremism, transnational crime, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors .

Cooperation in the fight against terrorism and extremism, be based on international law, above all the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

12. In order to combat organised crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal arms trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration and piracy, intensify contacts between law enforcement agencies and special services of the Russian Federation and African states, in particular between the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation and organizations African police co-operation.

13. Coordinate efforts and share experience in the fight against terrorism and extremism, including through joint programs to build the appropriate capacities of requesting African states and train African peacekeeping personnel in specialised educational organisations of the Russian Federation and African states.

14. Urge the international community to pursue further joint actions and make comprehensive efforts to combat all terrorist groups, regardless of their form and ideology, as well as hinder the further growth of organized crime in order to eliminate the terrorist threat.

Encourage all UN member states to continue to implement specific actions and measures to develop legislation related to the regulation of social networks, the prohibition or restriction of the use of non-governmental and charitable organisations for illegal purposes, as well as to hold accountable persons and organisations providing support in any form to entities or persons involved in terrorist activities, including continuing to implement measures that impede the recruitment of terrorist members FIR groups and promote the destruction of terrorist funding.

15. Continue close cooperation aimed at resolving and preventing conflicts in Africa as part of the African Union initiative to end hostilities in Africa by 2020. The basis for resolving conflict situations should remain the principle of “African problems – an African solution.”

16. Interact with a view to ensuring the integrity, viability and universalization of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which reaffirmed the potential of a balanced structure of the obligations contained in it on three key components: non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, peaceful use of atomic energy, disarmament. Counteract attempts to undermine the current architecture of international legal agreements in the field of arms control, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament.

17. To carry out joint work aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space. Collaborate within relevant international organisations and forums to promote a variety of constructive initiatives aimed at the peaceful use of outer space.

To support efforts aimed at developing a legally binding multilateral instrument establishing reliable guarantees of non -placement of weapons of any kind in near-earth orbit, on the basis of a draft treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space, the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. Declare to the relevant international markets, the Russian Federation and the African states, noting the declared policy of the Russian Federation, non-deployment of the first weapons in space, will make every effort to obstruct transformation of space into an arena of military confrontation and ensuring the safety of space activities.

Call on all countries with space capabilities to follow suit.

To study the possibilities of cooperation between the Russian Federation and African states in the peaceful uses of outer space and to develop cooperation and the exchange of technical data with the African Space Agency.

18. The Russian Federation and African states that are parties to the Biological Weapons Convention of December 16, 1971 (BTWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention of January 13, 1993 (CWC), undertake to comply with and strengthen these Conventions, including by adopting protocol to the BTWC, which provides, inter alia, an effective mechanism for verifying their implementation. Make vigorous collaborative efforts with respect to activities that raise questions of compliance with the BTWC.

The Russian Federation and the African states emphasize the inadmissibility of creating international mechanisms that duplicate the functions of the BTWC and acting in defiance of the UN Security Council.

In response to the threats of chemical and biological terrorism, the Russian Federation and African States Parties to the BTWC and the CWCW insist on the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism.

19. Make efforts aimed at improving the situation in the field of international security, carry out consistent work in order to increase the level of interstate confidence and strengthen global and regional stability, relying on the principle of equal and indivisible security for all states. In this context, pay particular attention to maintaining and strengthening the international architecture of arms control and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

20. Intensify cooperation in the field of post-conflict reconstruction and development on the African continent through the implementation of capacity-building programmes and infrastructure projects.

Welcome the role that the African Union Center for Post-Conflict Recovery and Development can play in this regard.

21. Express concern that modern information and communications technologies may be used for purposes incompatible with the tasks of maintaining international peace, security and stability, including for terrorist and other criminal purposes.

To promote the development of Russian-African cooperation in the field of international information security.

To make efforts in order to consolidate positions and coordinate actions on specialized international platforms.

22. To carry out cooperation in the field of information and communication technologies, based on the need for further work under the auspices of the United Nations on the rules of responsible behavior of states in the information space, enshrining the principles of non-use of force, respect for state sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of states and providing for the use of these technologies exclusively in peaceful goals, as well as support the efforts of the international community to prevent conflicts in information environment and the reduction of the “digital divide.”

Trade and economic cooperation

23. Join efforts to promote trade, investment and sustainable development in order to make the global economic system more socially oriented. To oppose any manifestations of a unilateral approach, protectionism and discrimination, to support the world trade regime based on the rules of the World Trade Organization.

24. Provide support to Russian and African entrepreneurs in exploring ways for mutually beneficial cooperation.

The participants of the Russia-Africa summit highly appreciate the results of the extraordinary summit of the African Union held in Niamey (Republic of Niger) in July 2019, including the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Zone.

The Russian Federation expresses its desire to cooperate with African states in the areas of trade, industry and investment facilitation, while exploring ways to support the efforts of African states to promote interaction between them, the development of infrastructure and industrialization.

25. Take steps to identify promising areas of the economic, trade and investment partnership of the Russian Federation with the African Union, as well as with the leading regional organisations of Africa – the Arab Maghreb Union, the Sahel Five, the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for East and South Africa, and East African community, the Economic Community of West Africa, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Intergovernmental Organisation for Development.

26. Make efforts to significantly increase trade between the Russian Federation and African countries, diversify its nomenclature, including by increasing the share of agricultural products in import-export operations.

To assist the existing bilateral Russian-African intergovernmental commissions and committees for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation in their work, to promote the creation of new similar mechanisms for partnership between the Russian Federation and African states.

Encourage the active participation of business circles in exhibition, fair and congress events in Russia and African countries, and develop the practice of exchanging business missions.

27. To promote the development of trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and African states.

28. To promote the development of cooperation in the field of energy security, including diversification of energy resources, the use of renewable energy sources, as well as the implementation of joint projects in the field of civil nuclear energy. Continue mutually beneficial cooperation in the oil and gas sector.

29. Provide the necessary assistance to large Russian companies operating in African markets and entrepreneurs from African countries planning to carry out their activities in the Russian Federation by mutually improving the investment and business climate, and providing possible targeted preferences.

30. Together, they counteract political dictatorship and currency blackmail in the course of international trade and economic cooperation, suppress the desire of individual countries to appropriate the exclusive right to determine the feasibility and acceptable parameters of legal interaction between other countries, and also avoid manipulating the requirements of the global non-proliferation regime in order to put pressure on objectionable countries and unfair competition.

Legal Cooperation

31. Adhere to the principles of international law, as reflected in the UN Charter and the Declaration on the Principles of International Law regarding friendly relations and cooperation between states in accordance with the UN Charter of October 24, 1970.

32. Based on the principle that the principle of sovereign equality is especially important for ensuring the stability of international relations.

33. Adhere to the principle that states refrain from the threat or use of force in violation of the UN Charter, and condemn unilateral military interventions.

34. Adhere to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states and condemn, as a violation of this principle, any interference by some states in the internal affairs of other states in order to organise the overthrow of legitimate governments.

As one example of a violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states consider extraterritorial application by the national law, in violation of international law.

35. Adhere to the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes, thus contributing to the relaxation of tension and the establishment of peaceful cooperation between states.

36. To share the opinion that the conscientious implementation of universally recognized principles and norms of international law excludes the practice of double standards or the imposition of certain states of their own will on other states.

Consider the introduction of unilateral coercive measures not based on international law, also known as unilateral sanctions, as an example of such a practice. The adoption of unilateral coercive measures by states, in addition to the measures adopted by the UN Security Council, may deprive the object and goals of the UN Security Council measures and undermine their integrity and effectiveness.

37. Reaffirm the enduring importance for the Russian Federation and African states of the universally recognised principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, which has become the legal basis for the decolonization process.

Scientific, technical, humanitarian and informational cooperation

38. Promote cooperation in the field of joint research projects, expand contacts between universities and large research centers of the Russian Federation and African states, conduct scientific conferences and seminars, encourage further exchanges, joint training, cooperation in the academic field, in the fields of culture, education, technology, sports, healthcare, tourism and the media.

39. Strengthen national health systems and increase their reliability and resilience in the fight against epidemics, pandemics and other public health problems.

Joint efforts should be directed, among other things, at developing national and local capacities by strengthening qualified, productive, responsible, transparent, fair and accountable public health systems, which should lead to an improvement in the quality of basic medical services and an increase in the number of research and development, growth in the economic potential of health care providers.

40. To consider the possibility of cooperation in the field of preventing and eliminating natural disasters and epidemics, discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in such areas as humanitarian assistance, combating climate change, drought and desertification, preventing and eliminating natural disasters, and monitoring and emergency forecasting.

41. To develop cooperation in the field of education, implement vocational training and academic exchange programs to promote social stability by protecting people, especially youth, women and persons with disabilities, and expand their capabilities by increasing the availability of education, technical and vocational training .

The participants of the Russia-Africa summit confirmed that the acquisition of quality education and the development of skills in applying the knowledge gained by young people and women can become a driving force for structural economic transformation and industrialisation in African countries, as well as the basis for strengthening the industrial potential necessary to diversify the economy.

42. Respect for civilisational diversity and emphasise its benefits, adhere to the position that contacts between people and cultural exchanges are extremely important for the development of mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation between the peoples of the Russian Federation and African states.

Encourage further exchanges, mutual learning and cooperation in the field of culture and education.

43. To expand cooperation in the information sphere, including strengthening ties between national mass media, information exchange, training (retraining) of journalists, contacts between specialised ministries and departments.

Strengthen the legal framework for cooperation in the field of communications and mass communications.

To promote the mutual inclusion of the Russian and African media in the national digital broadcasting and cable television networks.

To facilitate the opening of correspondent points of Russian and African mass media in the territories of African states and the Russian Federation, respectively.

44. To explore the possibilities of scientific and technical cooperation in the field of the peaceful uses of outer space.

Environmental Collaboration

45. Intensify efforts to combat climate change in Africa, transfer relevant technologies, build the capacity of African states and expand their capabilities to increase resilience and adapt to the negative effects of climate change.

46. Welcome the outcome of the climate summit, held on 23 September 2019 in New-York on the initiative of the General Secretary of the United Nations , and to support the universal call to action in order to adapt the States and increase their stability to the negative effects of changes in climate . Encourage countries to join and take appropriate action, especially in Africa.

47. Call for a purposeful and comprehensive replenishment of the Green Climate Fund and increased efforts to combat climate change, while emphasising that climate finance should not increase the debt of States, especially African, or jeopardize their sovereignty .

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