Botswana is “no more a country at the foot of a dangerous volcano about to erupt as the first President of Botswana, Seretse Khama once put it, and Russia is no longer the Soviet Union.” These two have come a long way in their diplomatic relations. The two partners first forged their relationship in 1970.
Forty-five years after the friends and partners embarked on diplomatic relations, they have a common commitment towards ensuring stability and security, sustainable development and establishment of fair international trade relations.
The mutually beneficial partnership that has characterised relations between the two countries in the past decades was marked with the annual exhibition that profiles the many milestones of the two countries. Presently, there are eight bilateral agreements between Botswana and Russia, and they include Intergovernmental Trade Agreement, the Agreement on Technical and Economic Cooperation, and the Agreement on Cultural, Scientific and Educational Cooperation.
On top of the above-mentioned agreements, discussions are ongoing to sign an agreement on mutual protection of investments, designed to boost investments. Deputy Foreign Minister, Special Representative of President Vladimir Putin for Africa and the Middle East, Mikhael Bogdanov, was expected in Botswana to hold consultations with his counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi hopefully forge new agreements. According to Ambassador Victor I. Sibilev, two memorandums of understanding in areas of health and education are at an advanced stage as well. He emphasised that his country deemed it important to focus on ways of strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation in the area of trade and economy.
“To ascertain this allows the existing potential in mining, power, water and infrastructure development. A deal of experience has been accumulated during operation of Norilsk Nickel in Botswana since 2007,” he pointed, adding that they had other major companies that could establish mutually beneficial ties with partners in Botswana. Russian is also keen in creating practical cooperation in the diamond sphere. Furthermore, the fact that both countries are major players of the rough diamond market possesses all key ingredients to glue a partnership.
“JSC Alrosa has already been prospecting for diamonds in a joint venture with Botswana Diamonds,” he stated. Russia’s Kristall Production Corporation, a major integrated polishing and jewellery enterprise in Europe could offer its unique experience in polishing technology and manufacture jewellery. “This can be of use since one of the leading centres in global diamond trade has taken shape in Botswana,” he observed.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Minister Shaw Kgathi, who was acting on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations noted that as the two chart their way into the future, both countries and governments will do their best to ensure that while they capitalise on past achievements in these relations, they will further recommit themselves to making sure that their cooperation and collaborative partnerships are strengthened and deepened.
Botswana has over the years benefited immensely from its cordial bilateral relations with Russia particularly in the field of Human Resources Development in key sectors of the economy such as health, law enforcement and defence. “This particular support was critical to our economy especially during the formative stages of our nationhood, because it addressed one of the foundational pillars of sustainable development namely in empowering human beings to take their destiny into their own hands,” Kgathi said. The anticipated visit by Bogdanov will go a long way in further strengthening and deepening bilateral relations between the two partners.