President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr President, friends,
Our meeting yesterday concluded rather late, at about 1.30–2 am Moscow time. But I think we worked hard and our efforts were very productive. It benefited both our bilateral relations and Russia’s relations with the African continent in general – and not least due to your efforts, Mr President, as you were actively involved in the preparations for this meeting.
Today, after the official events have concluded, we have a good opportunity to take our time and discuss our bilateral relations. But, of course, I would like to once again express my appreciation of your active involvement in preparations for the Russia–Africa summit.
Russia-South Africa relations are based on the principles of strategic partnership, with interaction between our countries becoming more diverse and varied. We have established a multi-level political dialogue, and our trade and economic ties and cooperation are making progress.
In 2022, our mutual trade posted growth of 16.4 percent, which is a solid indicator. I think absolute figures could also be higher, but 1.3 billion US dollars is actually a good figure.
Our intergovernmental commission is working actively. As we have repeatedly noted, promising areas of cooperation include energy, industry, agriculture, science, and innovation.
We have a strong focus on expanding ties in education. For the 2023–2024 academic year, we have nearly tripled the scholarship quota for South African students, with additional 400 people to study at Russian universities.
Our countries coordinate their actions at the United Nations, the G20 and other multi-format organisations. This year South Africa holds the chairmanship of BRICS. We are interacting closely and efficiently within the association, aiming to boost the strategic partnership of its five member countries. I am confident that the summit you are preparing to host will be very effective. I have no doubt about it. We will make every effort to provide assistance and support to you.
This is what I wanted to say at the beginning. Thank you for your attention.
President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa: Thank you very much, President Putin, for welcoming us. Yes, we finished quite late. I did say that you are a very hard worker, you drive things right into very early hours of the morning. It is wonderful to be working with a partner like you, because I am a hard worker, too, so that is very good.
Thank you very much for hosting the Russia-Africa summit. We believe that it was most successful. It was well organised. The outcome is very good, the declaration was well-negotiated and well-crafted, and it represents the views that various countries here put forward, together with your views. I believe that we have got a declaration that can take our relationship between Africa and Russia forward.
What is particularly pleasing is that Russia conducts its relationship with Africa at a strategic level, and it conducts it with a great deal of respect and recognition of the sovereignty of African states. Russia has continued to be supportive of Africa as it did in the past, even during the days of the Soviet Union. So we are very pleased that the spirit of cooperation continues, and we appreciate very much your own disposition towards it.
When it comes to South Africa, we enjoy very good relations with Russia, at a strategic level, touching on a number of areas, and it is a multilevel relationship, as you have correctly said. At the investment level, there is quite a number of Russian companies that have invested in the South African market, as there are companies from South Africa that are also investing in the Russian market.
At the trade level, obviously, we would like to see more growth in exchanges of trade. Cooperation should now be much broader in the energy sector. Currently, South Africa is going through an energy crisis, and we could learn a lot and do a lot together with Russia on the energy side.
On the science and technology side, there is a great deal that we can learn from each other. In fact, we can learn a lot from you. We want to look at areas like space. We have a space institute in South Africa. You have advanced a great deal in space, and that is one area that we could cooperate where there can be sharing of skills.
We very much appreciate support that we received from Russia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your own innovation, which killed COVID-19, helped to inspire our own scientists. I remember you and me having a conversation after our scientists discovered Omicron. We spoke on the phone and you sent Russian scientists to South Africa so that we could exchange views, and I do believe that it was really impactful. So, we thank you for that.
On the education side, we continue to be grateful for the support that we get from Russia on education, and we would like more and more students to come to Russia, to come and learn across a number of disciplines. So, the support that you have given to many South Africans who have been educated in Russia is quite extensive, and we value that. So, we want to see that continuing by manyfold; not only threefold, but tenfold and twentyfold.
Yes, you are right, we continue to cooperate at the UN level. We discuss issues and we are able to arrive at common positions. And we appreciate your position on the issue of the representation of Africa at the UN level. We continue to be a continent that is not represented in the key structures of the UN, and we thank you for being supportive in that regard.
Our cooperation also extends to the G20, where we are able to work together on a number of issues, and, of course, at the BRICS level. We are delighted to have your support, as we are going to host a BRICS summit in a few weeks. We agree with you: yes, BRICS should be held at the appropriate level. We are in the process of preparing for BRICS, and we thank you for the support that you are giving and are willing to give as a number of Russian officials and ministers have been to South Africa now to attend various preparatory meetings that are taking place for BRICS. We are hoping that the participation of all the BRICS countries would lead to a very good outcome. We are looking forward to a very successful BRICS summit, and thank you very much for your continued support in this regard.
So, thank you very much for having us in St Petersburg, and let me also end by thanking you for the opening dinner that we had and the performances. The performances that displayed the culture of St Petersburg were outstanding. But, once again, I want to thank you for the last performance, because that last performance was African. It was fantastic. I saw many people in my delegation beginning to dance, so that was good. Thank you.