INTERVIEW: Africa can become an influential international force: Ambassador Ozerov

Amr Yehia from Saint Petersburg, Saturday 5 Aug 2023

Senior Russian diplomat Oleg Ozerov spoke to Ahram Online about Russia's effort to consolidate the sovereignty of African countries and to raise their representation in the Security Council and international organizations, in order to transform the continent into an internationally influential force.

ambassador Ozerov

 

Ozerov, who is Russia’s ambassador at large for special missions and head of the secretariat of the Russian-African Partnership Forum, made his remarks on the sidelines of the second Russia-Africa Summit, which was held in St. Petersburg 27-29 July.

Ahram Online: What were the most important goals for the second Russia-Africa Summit?

Oleg Ozerov: The main objective was to assess the achievements of the first summit held in Sochi in 2019, under the joint chairmanship of presidents Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Vladimir Putin. The summit is the largest and most important event in the relations between Russia and the countries of the African continent.

The goals included exchanging views with African countries on strengthening cooperation programmes at the political, economic, and humanitarian levels before the next summit in 2026. Views on a full range of strategic cooperation issues were reviewed, and the development of Russian-African cooperation aspects was discussed. Additionally, the summit aimed to foster multilateral joint action between Russia, African countries, and African economic organizations and blocs to identify real projects of cooperation.

One of the key political philosophies of the summit was to strengthen the sovereignty of African countries as a goal of Russia's foreign policy. The aim was to consolidate the sovereignty of African countries across political, economic, technological, scientific, and educational levels, empowering countries to develop their national economies. This, in turn, would transform the African continent into a new pole and an influential force on the international stage.

Contrary to the expectations of Western countries, the summit and forum witnessed significant momentum and an overwhelming presence from the majority of African countries. Official delegations from 49 African countries participated, 27 of which were represented by their presidents, along with delegations at the level of prime ministers and ministers, and representatives from African organizations and economic blocs. This reflected the high level of interest from all participants.

Discussions were centred on achieving promising successes for the economies of their countries, coordinating foreign policies, increasing trade and investment flows, joint industrial cooperation, and deepening the Russian-African partnership.

President Putin was keen on meeting with all African heads of state who participated in the summit and forum, led by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

AO: How does Russia view the role of the African continent in the future?

OO: Our primary goal was to lead the construction of an international policy and a world order based on equal rights and capabilities for all countries, including African nations, and to build a multipolar system where there are no dictates from any one pole in any field – economic, political, or social.

Russia believes that the African continent will play a pioneering and greater role in the future, and this was emphasized in the closing statement of the summit.

Russia supports raising the level of representation of African countries in the Security Council and even restructuring the council to ensure broader representation for Africa.

Economic reports suggest that the African continent is growing at a faster pace than other continents and is expected to become one of the largest economies in the world within the next 20 to 30 years. Hence, Russia supports efforts aimed at consolidating integration at the continental level and strengthening economic relations between African countries.

AO: Did the summit achieve its desired goals?

OO: Despite criticism from Western countries, the summit achieved its desired goals at all levels, particularly in the political field.

It marked a true beginning for the principle of building a new multipolar world, free from external dictates on the African continent. The participants also emphasized their rejection of conflict, unilateral sanctions, and any forms of new colonialism in the world.

The summit addressed the economic development of African countries, aiming to move away from the influence of Western countries.

The final statement of the summit outlined a program for joint action among all participating African countries and Russia, fostering multiple relations in the coming period.

The summit resulted in five main documents, including the Declaration of the Second Russian-African Summit, the Declaration on Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space, the Declaration on Cooperation in the Field of Ensuring International Information Security, the Declaration on Strengthening Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, and the Action Plan of the Russian-African Partnership Forum for the period 2023-2026.

The forum also witnessed the signing of numerous memorandums of understanding with African blocs, including 161 agreements covering various areas of cooperation, such as humanitarian, international and regional cooperation, education and science, scientific and technical cooperation, and export and economic activity.

AO: What about the cooperation and projects with Egypt came out of the summit and the forum?

OO: Egypt is a strategic partner for Russia, and the two countries will soon celebrate the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

During the summit, discussions focused on developing relations and joint projects, including the establishment of the Dabaa nuclear power plant and the industrial zone project in the Suez Canal area.

Additionally, there were talks about supplying Egypt with Russian-made trains and establishing a train maintenance factory.

The discussions between presidents El-Sisi and Putin also covered grain and wheat exports from Russia to Egypt in the long term and at the international level.

AO: What is Russia’s expected role towards Africa, especially after the summit?

OO: The summit approved the action plan of the Russian-African Partnership Forum for the period from 2023 to 2026, and our focus now is on implementing it.

Over the next year and the following three years, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the foreign ministries and concerned ministries of African countries, will discuss how to develop relations and work on implementing ongoing and future projects.

As the general secretariat of the summit and the forum, we will make significant efforts to achieve the goals outlined in the plan. Working visits to African countries will be organized, with Egypt being one of the first countries on our list.

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