Your Excellency, Mr Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Colleagues,
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you and your delegation to South Africa and to thank you for honouring our invitation to visit our beautiful country.
Today we have the opportunity to discuss and exchange views on how best we can work together to strengthen the good relations that our two countries enjoy.
Last year 2022, we commemorated 30 Years of Diplomatic Relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation. The rich history of our relations dates back to the period of South Africans' quest for political and economic freedom and the support that the Russian Federation, as part of the Soviet Union provided.
Your Excellency, we are proud to enjoy excellent diplomatic relations with your country which is a valued partner for South Africa. South Africa's bilateral relations with the Russian Federation consists of political, economic, social, defence and security cooperation.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, a number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed covering a broad spectrum of sectors and issues including trade; tourism; agriculture; mining; medicine, and education. Many more are still under consideration. Furthermore, a number of high-level visits as well as engagements on the margins of international and multilateral fora have taken place over the years.
South Africa is pleased that the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) remains an active and main platform for co-ordinating our bilateral relations and that it continues to meet regularly and has made considerable progress in deepening the co-operation between South Africa and the Russian Federation.
Your Excellency, our countries share a growing economic bilateral relationship both in terms of trade and investments, however, both South Africa and Russia can and must do more to develop and capitalise on opportunities to increase our economic co-operation.
In terms of multilateral co-operation, the two countries continue to demonstrate their resolve to continuously work together bilaterally and in multilateral forums such as the United Nations and the BRICS formation through strong convergence of principles and positions on multilateral issues and the democratisation of the global governance system through the UN, G20, and the BRICS Forum. South Africa has also been the beneficiary of significant bankable projects in the cooperation within BRICS.
The current global geopolitical tensions clearly signal the need to create institutional mechanisms that will have the stature form and global trust to promote and support global peace and security – BRICS should play a proactive role in emerging processes and ensure it is part of a redesigned global order.
Your Excellency, Multilateralism lies at the heart of the biggest issues facing the world today: promoting peace and security, trade, and human rights, ending hunger, preventing health epidemics, tackling climate change, and protecting the environment. These issues go beyond individual countries and cultures.
The African continent has witnessed and overcome numerous conflicts, these have had a devastating effect on our countries, both politically and economically and on our people. As a continent we continue to endeavour to work towards peaceful resolution of conflict situations. The importance of diplomacy and peace in the resolution of disputes cannot be over emphasised.
Conflict wherever it is in the world impacts negatively on us as the African continent. That is why South Africa will always stand ready to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa and globally. South Africa believes that the only path to peace is through diplomacy, dialogue, and a commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including the principles that all member states shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means. It is important therefore to mention our sincere wish that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will be brought to a peaceful end through diplomacy and negotiations as speedily as possible.
We look forward to fruitful deliberations on relevant matters that are important for both our countries.
I thank you.