Riyaz Patel

Bilateral relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation are at “optimal level” and continue to grow from strength to strength, President Cyril Ramaphosa said ahead of his departure to Sochi where the first Russia-Africa Summit is scheduled to convene on 23/24 October.

Ramaphosa said South Africa’s participation at the inaugural summit is in line with Pretoria’s foreign policy pillar of enhancing South-North Cooperation.

He underlined that Moscow is a strategic partner.

“One of the primary mechanisms for improving the bilateral relationship between the two countries and advancing South Africa’s development objectives is the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC),” said South Africa’s president.

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“The ITEC is the foundation for mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two countries.”

Ramaphosa and Putin also deepened relations by signing a Declaration on the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the Russian Federation on the margins of the BRICS Summit in July 2018.

South Africa’s Presidency said the more than 38 Bilateral Agreements and/or memoranda of understanding that have been concluded, underpin the strategic nature of the relationship.

“This has also manifested in both countries consistently adopting common positions around key issues facing the world at the United Nations, African Union and other international forums.”

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The Russia-Africa Summit is expected to deepen friendly relations between the Russian Federation and African states at both bilateral and multilateral levels, Ramaphosa said.

It’s further expected to “forge closer collaboration on regional and international issues of common interest, raise strategic dialogue between Russia and African countries to a qualitatively higher level, and contribute to peace, security and sustainable development on the African continent.”

The discussions are framed by three thematic pillars: “Forging Economic Ties”, “Creating Joint Projects”, and “Collaborating in the Humanitarian and Social Sector.”

A banner promoting the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum to be held in Sochi on October 23-24 at the Sirius Park of Science and Art, in Sochi, Russia, October 19, 2019. Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS Host Photo Agency

The Sochi Summit will also contribute towards the overall objective of addressing the aspirations of African countries as encapsulated in Agenda 2063, said Ramaphosa

As the continental development blueprint, Agenda 2063 calls for a people-centered developmental process that ensures, inter alia, economic diversification and growth in order to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality.

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