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WorldAsiaHow did Sergei Lavrov's African tour go?

How did Sergei Lavrov’s African tour go?

Lavrov began his tour of Kenya, a country extremely interested in obtaining Russian fertilizers. Commenting on the situation around the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Russia-UN Memorandum, which should ensure the supply of Russian agricultural products and fertilizers to world markets, at the request of RG, the Minister noted that less than three percent of the 30 million cereals exported from Ukraine ended up in the poorest countries. “The Russia-UN memorandum is not implemented at all,” Lavrov said. He drew attention to the fact that about 300,000 tons of Russian fertilizers were held in EU posts. Only a small part was rescued from captivity. 20,000 tonnes were donated to Malawi. Another 35,000 tonnes went to Kenya. As the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said during his stay in Nairobi, they will be handed over to the Kenyan side in the coming days. The meeting of such a large cargo took place a few days later – on May 31. According to the Russian Ambassador to Kenya, Dmitry Maksimychev, they arrived just in time for the start of the sowing campaign, and their use will significantly increase the sustainability of Kenyan agriculture and ensure the country’s food security.

As Lavrov pointed out, Russia has the ability to supply agricultural products, bypassing the mechanisms of the Russia-UN memorandum. “But, of course, if the UN Secretary General managed to fulfill everything he asked for, which is written in the memorandum, I think the impact on the food market and the fertilizer market would be much greater. positive,” the Russian foreign minister said. said the minister. “As for the future fate of the Black Sea Initiative, if everything remains as it is, and apparently it will be, it will be necessary to proceed from the fact that it no longer works,” Lavrov said. , commenting on the current situation.

However, during the talks in Kenya, it was not only about cooperation in the agricultural sector, but also other promising areas, such as geological exploration, mining, energy, telecommunications, tourism, science and education. “Certainly, we have untapped potential for trade, economic and investment ties,” Lavrov said. As expected, new agreements will be concluded within the framework of the Russia-Africa Summit. And, perhaps, it will even become a starting point in the process of moving to payments in national currencies, at least the Kenyan side already expresses such an interest. According to Lavrov, this will have a “healing effect on the world economy”. He only regretted that although the trade turnover between Russia and Kenya is not as big as it should be, it is less than 400 million dollars. “So far we still count in dollars out of habit, but as trade develops, of course, the transition to payments in national currencies will be of practical importance, and that is the future,” noted the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Next in the list of countries visited by Lavrov was Burundi. The Russian minister was the first in this African republic. And this was duly appreciated by his colleague Albert Shingiro. Just at the catwalk, Lavrov was greeted by a set of Burundian drummers, only the dearest guests are honored with this. And so that he can go safely to the place of negotiations, hundreds of police, gendarmes and soldiers were taken to the streets. They formed a kind of guard of honor all along the route of the procession, which naturally aroused great interest among local residents.

During the talks themselves, attention was focused on cooperation in the field of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Energy problems are extremely acute in Burundi. Only about 13 percent of the territory is electrified in the country. As Lavrov pointed out, the preparation of an intergovernmental agreement in the field of nuclear energy, as well as a memorandum on personnel training, is at the final stage. They may well be signed on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit, along with a number of other agreements that will affect education, health, energy and jurisprudence.

As noted by Lavrov, Russia and Burundi have the same approaches on the international agenda, both countries are in favor of the reform of the UN Security Council due to the insufficient representation of the countries of the South, Africa, Asia and Latin America within it.

Then the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry visited Mozambique. Lavrov arrived in this republic on the evening of May 29, thus dividing a day into three countries. He had lunch in Nairobi, lunch in Bujumbura and supper in Maputo. Such a busy schedule is a rarity, even for a very experienced Russian minister.

Mozambique has a special attitude towards Russia. Cooperation between our countries began even before the accession to the sovereignty of the republic. The Soviet Union supported the Mozambican people in the struggle for independence. And in gratitude for this, the African country placed the image of a Kalashnikov assault rifle on its coat of arms. Military-technical cooperation remains one of the priorities to this day. As the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry noted, Russia is ready to supply military products to increase Mozambique’s defense capacity and fight terrorism. There are deliveries and humanitarian aid. “The next batch will arrive the other day at one of the ports in Mozambique,” Lavrov said. Plans remain to implement a number of agreements signed in 2019, the progress of which was frozen due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were so many topics for discussion that Lavrov’s meeting with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi lasted longer than expected – an hour and a half instead of one. But that’s clearly not enough, so the conversation will continue in St. Petersburg, at the Russia-Africa summit, where Newsi is expected to arrive at the head of a representative delegation. However, Lavrov expressed the same invitations when visiting other countries on the continent, and not only on the current tour, but also on the previous two.

In the last country on the trip to the Dark Continent – South Africa – the theme has changed dramatically. The Russia-Africa summit has taken a back seat, giving way to the development of the BRICS association. A meeting of BRICS foreign ministers was held in Nairobi. The event took place at the foot of the rocks of the 12 apostles at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. True, Lavrov practically did not have time to admire the beauties. In addition to participating in the meeting itself, the Russian Foreign Minister spoke with colleagues from several countries: South Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Iran. In this list, you can see not only the current members of BRICS, but also the countries that may join this association in the future. Of course, some criteria remain to be developed for this, but these are already details. Moreover, only a small part of those who want to join the BRICS are mentioned here. In general, there are more than a dozen such countries.

As Lavrov drew attention in his opening speech at the meeting of foreign ministers, “the world is changing rapidly, the states of Asia, Africa and Latin America are strengthening their economic positions, demonstrating their willingness to defend national interests and play an equal role in global processes.” According to him, the unipolar world is becoming a thing of the past, but there are still manifestations of hegemonism from which the South and the East suffer. The West, through financial blackmail, is trying to influence the choice of economic model and trading partners of other states. “Such neo-colonial ways, based on the desire to live at the expense of others, have the most negative impact on interstate communication and are unacceptable in the modern world,” Lavrov said.

Representatives of other members of the “five” expressed themselves in the same way. South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said the BRICS have the potential to take the lead in solving the problems currently facing humanity. According to Brazilian Minister Mauro Vieira, the BRICS are already an integral part of the multipolar world order. India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stressed that new ways of solving problems must be found because the old ones are not working. And the representative of the People’s Republic of China, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, noted that the BRICS are following the path of a multipolar world and the democratization of international relations.

During the meeting itself, which lasted over three hours, many issues were discussed. For example, format extension. True, the concept has not yet been adopted, it is expected that this will be done at the August summit. As Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on the sidelines of the Ministerial Council, “there are several strong candidates to join this format.” By the way, on Friday in Cape Town, in a format closed to the press, a meeting of “Friends of BRICS” was held, where this issue was also discussed. It is known that it brought together the foreign ministers of 12 states of the Global South, who expressed their desire to join the group: Argentina, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Comoros, Cuba, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia.

During the main meeting, the ministers discussed the prospects for the creation of a single BRICS currency, the use of local currencies in trade, energy security issues, including ensuring universal access to energy sources. energy, strengthening arms control, and highlighted the negative impact of unilateral sanctions measures on the global economy.

The topics were hugely important, but reporters were more interested in whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would come to the South African summit. Moreover, with the last question, representatives of various media attacked almost all ministers.

The RG correspondent, for his part, asked Lavrov to comment on the story being floated in the Western media space that the summit could be moved from South Africa to China. The minister’s response spread all over the world, it was quoted by hundreds of publications from different countries. “As far as I know, this news only appeared in one yellow English newspaper. And I don’t read English newspapers,” Lavrov said. It was one of the most memorable moments of that day. As Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted, “At first, Russian journalists burst out laughing, after the translation, everything else.” According to the head of South Africa’s foreign ministry, all invitations remain in place and the summit, as planned, will be held in Johannesburg.

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