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Welcome Address Delivered by H.E. Konstantin Kozhanov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Zambia at the Diplomatic Reception Held to Commemorate the Russia Day (June 11, 2019)

Dear Guest of Honor Hon. Matthew Nkhuwa, Minister of Energy, 

Honorable Ministers and Members of the National Assembly,

Excellencies and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Colleagues and Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

 

It is my great privilege and pleasure on behalf of the Russian Embassy in Lusaka to welcome you here today. We are delighted that you joined us for the Russia Day commemoration. Thank you for coming.

But before we proceed to the informal part of the celebrations, may I take a couple of minutes of your time to brief you on some noticeable developments in Russian Zambian relations that took place during my term of office that, I feel, are imbued with a diverse contribution from my dedicated team and my personal endeavors, inspiration and involvement.

The establishment of Russian-Zambian diplomatic relations on October 30, 1964, days after the proclamation of Zambian independence kick-started more than half a century-old history of friendly, mutually beneficial ties based on trust, respect and understanding. I have had a tremendous privilege to be a part of the most recent segment of this glorious history.

July 2018 saw the historical meeting of the leaders of the two countries in Johannesburg held on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit.

Praising coordinated efforts of both countries at the international scene, the President of Russia H.E.Vladimir Putin expressed gratitude to his Zambian vis-à-vis for the effective Zambian support to Russian initiatives in the UN and other international platforms yet indicated necessity to focus on economic cooperation.

In turn, the President of Zambia H.E.Edgar Lungu acknowledged Russia’s historical role in the process of liberation in Africa. Zambian leader, who conveyed an invitation to the Russian President to visit his country, suggested that the time is high for qualitative increase in existing level of relations. Among various cooperation opportunities, President Lungu highlighted energy sector, particularly atomic energy, where the two countries have made a leapfrog progress.

The strategic landmark project in the area of peaceful use of atomic power implemented in the country since the year of 2016 in conjunction with the Russian State Corporation ROSATOM involves the construction in Lusaka of the state-of-the-art Centre for Nuclear Science & Technology and, at a later stage, a nuclear power plant. Implementation of the project will facilitate domestic activities in the field of radiobiology and encourage the development of many subsectors of healthcare, food industry and agriculture. Backed by the development of different nuclear power facilities and infrastructure, uranium mining and training of Zambian personnel these undertakings will contribute to creation of thousands of jobs for the national economy and gradual transformation of Zambia into a model regional hub for the development, transfer and dissemination of skills and nuclear related technologies in Africa. It is also expected to boost overall bilateral trade and investment cooperation, particularly in the field of technology transfer and supplies to the Zambian market of relevant capital goods.

Vast cooperation in the educational sector thriving since the early years of Zambian independence remains an exemplary showcase of the Russian-Zambian friendly relations. For many years, Zambia has been second to none in terms of the number of Russian government scholarship holders. In the course of the last three years, the ranks of the Zambian nationals enjoying Russian government-sponsored scholarship grew substantially – from 100 to 140 scholarship recipients annually, apart from Zambian students currently trained as future nuclear engineers in Russian specialized universities to obtain technical degrees in nuclear and allied sciences.

Zambia is a serious player in global affairs, a prominent participant to many international organizations with weight, authority and reputation that are difficult to overestimate. Yet it is a reliable partner and friend, Russia can count on in the increasingly complex world of geopolitical controversies and intricate diplomacy. Our country appreciates Zambian support to its different international initiatives and proposals. Besides historic links and time-proven bonds of friendship, our countries share often similar or close approaches towards solution to complex issues of the international politics.

After an overlong slack period, Russia and Zambia have been resuming once massive (in the years gone by) cooperation in the area of defense, peace and security.

The development of contacts between the law enforcement agencies of the two countries materialized in 2015 with signing the interdepartmental MOU on cooperation in the field of combating illicit drug trafficking activity and related offences backed by the respective program of coordinated efforts in this field.

Zambia has won international acclaim for its peacemaking activities. Hailing the outstanding role and contribution of Zambia in maintaining peace and safety on the African continent Russia is proud of providing on an annual basis the advanced training to Zambian police officers at the UN-certified Peacekeepers Training Center in Moscow under the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The notable event in inter-parliamentary relations is the April 2018 meaningful visit to Moscow of Zambian delegation headed by Dr. Patrick Matibini, Speaker of the National Assembly under the invitation from Mrs. Valentina Matviyenko, Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. The eventful agenda of the visit included the meetings in the Russian Parliament and the regional lower house, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, yet a familiarization tour to the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant. Dr. Matibini used this opportunity to address the Plenary Session of the Federation Council (upper house of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation). During my follow-up discussions with the Honorable Speaker, Dr. Matibini reiterated the need to enhance Russian-Zambian cooperation in many prospective areas, such as energy, trade and agriculture.

The topic of strengthening multifaceted cooperation was expectedly in the focus of the talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries held in Moscow last February, when the Zambian Delegation headed by Hon Joseph Malanji visited Russian capital to meet Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov.

The top ranking diplomats discussed a number of topics of the bilateral agenda based on the outcome of the meeting between the Russian and Zambian leaders in Johannesburg. The colleagues confirmed mutual commitment to develop cooperation in the political, economic, scientific, technological, legal and humanitarian fields and to explore investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and mining sectors, just to name a few.

Last March I had an honor to be received by H.E. President Lungu in State House, when the Head of State warmly recollected the last year’s meeting and constructive discussions with the Russian leader in Johannesburg. Yet His Excellency highly commended the positive results of the February’s talks between the foreign ministers in Moscow. We had a great opportunity to deliberate on the prospects of the ongoing Russian – Zambian nuclear project, as well as a range of the topical issues and prospects of bilateral cooperation.

During my six-year term as the Ambassador to Zambia, we have made obvious headway in revision and upgrade of the legal framework of cooperation. Among the important documents signed are two intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in peaceful use of atomic energy together with a large bundle of relevant contracts, as well as a number of other bilateral documents. Ready for signing are a G2G agreement on visa-free travel for diplomatic passport holders, yet an interdepartmental MOUs on cooperation in ICT, telecommunications and postal services and on trade cooperation.

Despite there is yet much room for improvement, and we need to work hard to further unlock investment opportunities offered by both economies, I feel that the already established level of cooperation in many important areas instills confidence in the future of Russian – Zambian relations.

And as my 6-year tenure as the Russian Ambassador to Zambia is expiring, I would like to note that it`s with a mixed feeling of sorrow and nostalgia yet pride and aspiration that I am saying goodbye to this amicable, hospital country. I am taking along with me an enormous baggage of professional experience acquired in the country of my stay. Yet I am leaving Zambia with a pleasant sensation of accomplishment and pride for some noticeable developments in Russian-Zambian relations. This is the main reason why I am saying goodbye to Zambia with a light heart. Moreover, I cherish hope to visit this fascinating country again to watch how Zambia is getting even more splendid , thriving and flourishing.

I want to express my gratitude for fruitful cooperation and friendly attitude to the outgoing ambassadors of the European Union, Italy, Sweden, yet I wish them good luck and much success in their further career and undertakings.

I am as well thankful to all the incumbent ambassadors and honorary consuls, the esteemed guests present at this exciting event, the entire personnel of the Russian Embassy and the Russian Center for Science & Culture in Lusaka. Our Cultural Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary these days in the new office building, where it has been recently transferred to, owing to our enormous efforts. Its new premises, located in the vicinity of the Zambian capital, allows now to organize a wide range of events in various formats and scales. This will transform the Center into a real focal point of cultural and other activities for Russian compatriots living in Zambia to whom I am also addressing my sincere gratitude as outgoing Ambassador of Russia. Please, note that the Center anniversary celebrations encompass an extensive festive program.

I am also willing to thank the management and members of the staff of the Taj Pamodzi Hotel for cooperation and all invaluable help rendered to us.

And I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Zambia and its people for the amazing, unique atmosphere and unforgettable experience. I sincerely wish this wonderful country to prosper and to achieve its ultimate development goals in accordance with the Vision 2030 agenda.

I would like to raise a glass and to propose a toast:

  • To health of H.E. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia (and the First Lady Madame Esther Nyawa Lungu)! 
  • To happiness, well-being and prosperity of the peoples of our countries! 
  • To strong bonds of friendship between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Zambia!
Cheers!