Viaсheslav Viktoroviсh The Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the seventh convocation. He was elected as part of the federal list of candidates proposed by the All-Russian political party “United Russia” emphasized that ”the history of relations between Russia and the countries of the African continent is the relations of equal partners, built on the principles of non-interference in the sovereign affairs of other states.“
“This basis will allow us to develop relations more effectively, and the purpose of this conference is to determine the paths of this development. It is extremely important that the opinion of all the representatives of the African continent be heard,” said the Chairman of the State Duma, reminding that yesterday this work had already begun in round tables and sections, as well as at bilateral meetings.
“This conversation should lay the foundations of trust and the points of growth that will form the foundation of our relations tomorrow, give impetus to the rapprochement of relations between our countries and the resolution of issues,” said Viacheslav Volodin.
“The Russian Federation is interested in a mutually beneficial partnership with African states for the benefit of the wellbeing of our peoples — the peoples of Russia and the African continent,” said Viacheslav Volodin.
He noted that cooperation with African countries should be developed in various areas: “This is not only about the sphere of military-technical cooperation, the fight against terrorism, ensuring cybersecurity. We are talking about the development of electric power industry, engineering industry, the introduction of modern information technologies, and the production of fertilizers.”
On the Presidential initiative
The Chairman of the State Duma noted that the Russia-Africa parliamentary conference is taking place on the eve of a landmark event in Russian-African relations. On October 24 this year, a Russia-Africa summit, which idea was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin a year ago during the 10th BRICS summit, will take place in Sochi.
“This will be the first full-format Russian-African summit that has no precedent in the history of Russian relations with African states, including the Soviet period when relations were very active,” said Viacheslav Volodin.
Take partnership with Africa to a new level
The Chairman of the State Duma stated that “African countries play a prominent role in international affairs and take an active position in solving topical issues of modern world politics and economics. Progress in the economic and social spheres, improving the quality of life of people on the African continent contributes to this. ”
“The integration projects of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community are being implemented, the continental free trade zone is being formed, conditions for dynamic and sustainable development are being created within the framework of the implementation of the Agenda 2063,” he added.
In addition, according to Viacheslav Volodin, the combination of these processes and successful projects of Eurasian integration, primarily within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and the SCO, will open up new prospects for the development of Russian-African cooperation.
“I want to emphasize that the development integration path creates new opportunities for rapprochement,” said Viacheslav Volodin.
He also reminded that a memorandum on cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the African Union will be signed in the near future. This memorandum will bring Russian-African trade and economic cooperation to a higher level and will accelerate the growth of bilateral trade.
“In 2018, the volume of trade with the African continent increased by 17.2% in comparison with 2017 and amounted to $20.4 billion. This is a good indicator but this, of course, is not enough,” said the Chairman of the State Duma.
“We still have a lot to do, including in the parliamentary dimension, to build up trade and economic cooperation,” said Viacheslav Volodin.
According to him, it would be right, using the capability of parliaments, to “facilitate the establishment of contacts between Russian and African businessmen and the exchange of information on possible cooperation projects.”
“A good platform for this can be forums with the participation of parliamentarians, representatives of the business and expert communities, civil society institutions,” said Viacheslav Volodin. “The support of joint business projects and the convergence of legislation in the field of protection of investments, state guarantees should become the priority of inter-parliamentary work,” he added.
The Chairman of the State Duma urged parliamentarians to study and elaborate in more detail the issues of harmonization of legislation, “so that a business that would like to realize itself in our countries would be guided by legislative norms, which, on the one hand, create new opportunities, and, on the other hand, are understandable and there are no problems with compliance with the rules and regulations, because they are very clear to the business community.“
Develop humanitarian projects
Viacheslav Volodin is convinced that humanitarian cooperation is another area that needs to be developed and intensified in Russian-African relations since trust and mutual understanding cannot be achieved without strengthening friendly cultural ties.
The Chairman of the State Duma reminded that hundreds of thousands of African students studied in the Soviet Union and Russia, and now 17 thousand African students are studying in our country.
“Taken into account that the Pan-African University, which brings together leading universities in Africa, has been created, new opportunities are opening up for cooperation with large Russian universities. Educational exchange can become multilateral,” the Chairman of the State Duma suggested.
He took the initiative to also discuss issues of harmonization of countries’ legislation in the scientific and educational spheres in the course of the conference.
“It is necessary to provide legislative support for Russian language learning programs, including the training of Russian teachers from African countries,” he said.
According to Viacheslav Volodin, today Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world: despite the global crisis, the average annual GDP growth rate reaches from 3.5 to 5% on the continent.
At the end of his speech, the Chairman of the State Duma stressed that “it is necessary to prevent the revival of neo-colonialism, the destructive attitude towards the African resources. To achieve this, the sovereign right of African states to build their own future must be protected.”
“Russia has always advocated and stands for the observance of international law on the basis of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states,” he reminded.