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Russia’s African agenda is positive, future-oriented – Putin

PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin says Russia is not going to participate in a new repartition of Africa’s wealth.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, President Putin told TASS that Russia was ready to engage in competition for cooperation with Africa, provided that competition was civilised and develops in compliance with the law.

“We have a lot to offer to our African friends. This will be discussed, among other things, at the forthcoming Summit,” he said. “Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented. We do not ally with someone against someone else; and we strongly oppose any geopolitical ‘games’ involving Africa.”

President Putin noted that interest in developing the relations with African countries was currently visible not only on the part of Western Europe, the US and China, but also on the part of India, Turkey, the Gulf states, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Israel, and Brazil.

“This is not accidental, as Africa increasingly becomes a continent of opportunities. It possesses vast resources and potential economic attractiveness,” he said. “Africa’s infrastructure needs are increasing, and African population is rapidly growing, as are its demands. All of this, in turn, calls for an expanded domestic market and greater consumption. Of course, where there are promising prospects for investment and profit, there is always competition, which, unfortunately, at times goes beyond the bounds of decency.
We see a number of western states resorting to pressure, intimidation and blackmail against governments of sovereign African countries. They hope it will help them win back their lost influence and dominant positions in former colonies and seek – this time in a “new wrapper” – to reap excess profits and exploit the continent’s resources without any regard for its population, environmental or other risks.”
President Putin said the West were also hampering the establishment of closer relations between Russia and Africa, “apparently, so that nobody would interfere with their plans.”

“We certainly take note of these factors and draw conclusions,” he said.

But President Putin said the Russian-African relations were on the rise.

“We maintain a close political dialogue, including on the issues of global and regional security. The ties between our parliaments are expanding. Our mutual trade is steadily growing and diversifying,” he noted. “Russia, together with the international community, renders comprehensive assistance to Africa, inter alia, by way of reducing the debt burden of its states. With a number of countries, we are carrying out debt-for-development swap programmes. Russia supports efforts aimed at controlling the spread of infectious diseases (including Ebola haemorrhagic fever), natural disaster relief, settlement of existing conflicts and prevention of new crises.”

He said Russian universities provided professional training for national specialists from African countries both free of charge and on a commercial basis.

President Putin said Russian defence and law enforcement agencies were stepping up their cooperation as well.

“However, these are by no means all the items on our cooperation agenda. Our African partners see and appreciate the fact that Russia’s foreign policy, including in relation to their continent, is of constructive nature; that Russia, as one of the UN Security Council permanent members, advocates democratisation of international affairs, supports the legitimate aspiration of African states to pursue their own independent policy, to decide on their own future without imposed ‘assistance’ by third parties,” President Putin said. “When doing so, we do not make our support and joint development projects which we offer contingent upon the fulfilment of political or any other preconditions or so-called ‘exclusive’, but in fact enslaving trade and economic preferences; we do not impose our views, respecting the principle of African solutions to African problems proposed by the Africans themselves.”

On potential level of investment in Africa in the next five years, he said the figure is expected to be quite high, with a number of billion-dollar investment projects with Russia’s participation currently in the pipeline.

“Both Russia and Russian companies have substantial resources. We hope that our partners, in turn, will create the necessary stable and predictable business environment and investment protection mechanisms and ensure favourable investment climate,” said President Putin.

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