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Russian ambassador to Mozambique Alexander Surikov. Photo: Embaixada da Rússia em Moçambique
The Russian Federation is supporting the relaunch of cooperation with Mozambique, especially in the economic field, and an important government and business delegation will arrive in Maputo in April.
Announcing the move in Maputo on Sunday, Russian Diplomacy Day, Ambassador Alexander Surikov acknowledged that levels of cooperation between the two countries were not as good as in the days of the former USSR.
The Soviet Union had supported Mozambique since the national liberation struggle, providing logistics and military training for Frelimo, and continuing after national independence in the economic and social spheres as well.
Many Mozambican cadres, including doctors, engineers and military personnel, were trained in the former USSR.
“Currently the cooperation in the political area is excellent, but in the economic domain it is almost nil,” Surikov said, quoting statistics showing that, last year, trade between the two countries reached US$50 million, while in 2016 it had topped US$100 million.
“This is very little,” Surikov said, arguing that Russia had the potential to invest in Mozambique in the areas of electricity transmission, exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, power generation, rail and maritime transport, among others.
Surikov explained that, with the break-up of the USSR and the adoption of a market economy, many formerly state-owned enterprises had been privatised, and since then had focused on the domestic market.
“Companies are private and make their decisions according to what they find sustainable. But it is up to us, as the state, to persuade them to invest abroad, ” he said, adding that currently Mozambique could, for example, be a market for Russian wheat exports.
Russia is one of the world’s largest wheat producers, the Russian diplomat pointed out.
In another development, Surikov said that Mozambique owes about US$140 million dollars to Russia, a figure that corresponds to only 10 percent of the previous total.
“The debt was very large, but 90 percent was forgiven,” he said, noting that even the remaining 10 percent is being spent on development programmes within Mozambique, including some supervised by the United Nations.
“Every year, for example, Mozambique pays seven million dollars, which are sent to a UN account which in turn uses it to buy food for your country,” he said.
Russia has diplomatic relations with 193 countries and foreign missions in 147, employing more than 12,000 people.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry has always played a vital role in ensuring the protection of the interests of Russian citizens, and the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national image of Russia,” said Surikov, explaining the reasons for the celebration of Russian Diplomacy Day.
“Time has added to this agenda the need to counter new global threats – international terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and threats in the information sphere. We aspire to preserve and fully develop our traditions, which are known to our diplomacy for a long time,” he said.
“These are patriotism, high professional culture, deep understanding of national interests, broad vision and knowledge of foreign languages, among others. Such traditions are of continuing importance; they form the basis on which the Russian diplomatic service is built, he said, indicating that the diplomat’s day symbolises the continuity of “Russian diplomacy’s best traditions”.
By Lobo JoãoSource: Diário de Moçambique
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