Sergey Lavrov made working visits to Burkina Faso and Chad

15:57 06.06.2024 •

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Burkinese Affairs Abroad K.J.M. Traoré.
Photo: MFA

On June 4−5 Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov made a visit to Ouagadougou, the first in the history of bilateral relations, where he was received by President of Burkina Faso Ibrahim Traoré, and held talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Burkinabè Abroad Karamoko Traoré, Russian MFA informs.

During their conversations the ministers discussed in detail a wide range of issues pertaining to further strengthening of Russia-Burkina Faso relations, especially in the context of the Russian Embassy resuming its operations in Ouagadougou in December 2023. At the same time, the two sides confirmed their intention to intensify bilateral mutually beneficial and equal interaction in various areas with a focus on expanding cooperation in trade, economic and humanitarian spheres, as well as improving the legal framework.

Considering the key issues on the international and regional agenda, the two countries confirmed the alignment of their positions on the unacceptability of the policy of diktat of the collective West and the use of neo-colonial approaches in relations with sovereign states. They paid special attention to reforming the UN Security Council, the situation in and around Ukraine, the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region and the Middle East. The parties confirmed the proximity of Moscow's and Ouagadougou's approaches to supporting political and diplomatic methods of resolving crisis situations in Africa with the decisive role of the Africans themselves and the assistance of the international community. They agreed to continue strengthening coordination of actions within the United Nations and other multilateral platforms.

The parties paid a lot of attention to issues of sustainable promotion of Russian-African multifaceted interaction, given the outcomes of the second Russia-Africa summit in July 2023 and in the context of preparations for the ministerial conference of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum in Sochi scheduled for November. The Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso has confirmed his attendance at that important forum, which will specify the ways of promoting Russian-African strategic partnership.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and Burkinese Affairs Abroad K.J.M. Traoré following talks, Ouagadougou, June 5, 2024

Question (retranslated from French): You are aware of the fact that Burkina Faso has terminated earlier concluded colonial agreements. What proposals can the Russian Federation make for our country to make progress?

Sergey Lavrov: We have long-standing relations with Burkina Faso. Our relations got a powerful boost from changes in your country and President Ibrahim Traoré assuming office.

Almost every day we get evidence - and President Traoré shared these assessments today - that after a mighty wave of political decolonisation of the African continent in the 20th century, colonial and neo-colonial practices in the economy are still alive.

Our relations with African countries have never been of a colonial nature. With President Ibrahim Traoré in office, we are now able to fully unlock the potential of mutually beneficial and equal cooperation across various areas, including the economy, social sphere, health care, education, and military and military-technical cooperation. These ties rely on equality and mutual benefit.

President Putin’s meeting with President Traoré in St Petersburg during the second Russia-Africa summit last year was particularly important as it opened up a whole new dimension to Russia’s relations with Burkina Faso. Yesterday and today, we discussed in detail the practical steps to implement these agreements as effectively as possible and outlined future steps.

Question (retranslated from French): My question concerns President Traoré-led war that Burkina Faso is waging against armed terrorists. What is Moscow’s take on our actions? Can we enlist the support of the Russian Federation in this war?

Sergey Lavrov: No, you cannot, because you already have it. Since the initial contacts were established between our countries after President Traoré and his team came to power, we have established close ties across all areas of cooperation, including military and military-technical ties.

Yesterday, Deputy Defence Minister of the Russian Federation Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was here on a regular visit. He regularly reviews practical challenges with his colleagues from Burkina Faso. Russian instructors work here. There will be more of them as we move forward. Concurrently, we provide training for the armed forces and law enforcement personnel of Burkina Faso in the Russian Federation. This type of partnership is very specific and highly advanced.

Without a doubt, this cooperation will help wipe out the remaining hotbeds of terrorism in Burkina Faso.

Question: The US media say Russia’s stronger presence in Africa will weaken US influence in the region. Is Moscow going to drive the Americans out of Africa?

Sergey Lavrov: The Americans have so far been unable to get rid of the syndrome of omnipotence and impunity, and I’m not sure if they ever will. They believe they can make claims all over the world. They tell the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and, of course, Europe what to do in the economy and politics. They also tell them they should cooperate with the United States against any country that Washington may consider as a competitor. They measure international relations by their own yardstick of who is for the United States and who is against it. That is why it does not concern us. Our relations with our African friends rely solely on mutual interest, benefit and full equality.

The West continues to play its zero-sum games and is unable to grasp the concept of equal interaction. It remains affected by the “bacillus” of colonialism and neo-colonialism that drives its relations with the Global Majority. They continue to see this relationship as an opportunity to live at the expense of others and to derive unilateral benefits.

Question (retranslated from French): When can we expect to see Russia-Burkina Faso cooperation in nuclear energy?

Sergey Lavrov: It has been announced that Mining and Energy Minister of Burkina Faso Yacouba Zabre Gouba is taking part in St Petersburg Economic Forum. Among other things, as President Traoré confirmed today, your Minister will meet with the top officials from Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation.

I believe that once held, these contacts will give you a full picture of the capabilities and competencies that the Russian Federation - the undisputed global leader in nuclear energy - possesses. Rosatom is willing to not only share its products, but also to help partner countries create a corresponding industry replete with technology, trained staff, and everything else that goes in it. 

Question (retranslated from French): This is your first visit to Burkina Faso. What are your impressions of the country, the people and the welcome extended to you? Can you say that you feel at home here?

Sergey Lavrov: With regard to my impressions of Burkina Faso, I have only seen the capital and a little bit of the suburbs on my way from the airport. They are beautiful. The country is growing and making progress. Seeing the expressions on people’s faces on the streets and their eye expressions, it is clear that this nation has opted for freedom and wants to be the master of its own destiny. I wish the same to everyone.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a joint news conference following talks with Abderaman Koulamallah, Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chadians Abroad of the Republic of Chad, N'Djamena, June 5, 2024.
Photo: Russian MFA

On June 5, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited N’Djamena for the first time in the history of bilateral relations. During the visit, President of the Republic of Chad Mahamat Idriss Deby received Sergey Lavrov who also held talks with Minister of State - Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration, Overseas Citizens of Chad and International Cooperation, Abderaman Koulamallah.

During their detailed conversations, the officials discussed multiple issues of strengthening the traditionally friendly Russia-Chad ties still further. Moscow and N’Djamena reaffirmed their commitment to deepening trust-based political dialogue and expanding foreign policy coordination on topical issues of the international and regional agendas at the UN and other multilateral platforms, Russian MFA informs.

The officials reviewed options for expanding trade, economic and investment partnership, upgrading the contractual and legal framework, implementing promising joint projects in the field of energy, construction and infrastructure modernisation, minerals production and processing, agriculture and healthcare. They focused on expanding education cooperation and training specialists for Chad at Russian educational institutions.

While exchanging opinions on key issues of the global and African agendas, they emphasised the consolidated and principled approach of Moscow and N’Djamena in favour of forging a more equitable and polycentric world order that would prioritise the leading role of international law and the UN Charter, renounce the practice of dictate and neocolonialism in global affairs. The sides coordinated their positions on issues of overhauling the UN Security Council and reaffirmed their common interest in increasing the share of sovereign African states among UNSC members.

While discussing efforts to unblock conflicts on the African continent, the sides emphasised that there was no alternative to using political and diplomatic methods, with regional organisations playing the leading role, and the international community providing its support through the UN.

Sergey Lavrov invited the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chad to take part in a ministerial conference of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum in November 2024 in Sochi. The conference is called on to expedite diverse Russian-African cooperation, while relying on strategic decisions of the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit in July 2023 in St Petersburg.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions during a joint news conference following talks with Abderaman Koulamallah, Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chadians Abroad of the Republic of Chad, N'Djamena, June 5, 2024.

Question (translated from French): Chad and the Russian Federation have maintained diplomatic relations since 1964. The two countries signed a wealth of agreements between 1964 and 1974 concerning the economy, culture, technology and aviation. Could you give us a summary of the outcome of these agreements 60 years later?

Sergey Lavrov: We did not summarise any results today but rather spoke about our plans for the future, standing on our accumulated experience and following the strategic courses outline by President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Chad Mahamat Idriss Deby during their meeting in the Kremlin in January 2024.

In addition to the agreements you mentioned, we signed more agreements subsequently, including on cooperation in military affairs and military technology. There is a Memorandum on Foreign Political Consultations Between the Foreign Ministries of Russia and Chad that has been implemented since 2013. But we may consider modernising and updating it, to ensure that the memorandum aligns with the present-day world politics with its enormous scope of problems. President of Chad Mahamat Idriss Deby spoked about this extensively today.

We are developing cooperation in security. Chad is interested in it, considering that the terrorist threats in the region, associated with the destruction of Libyan statehood in 2011, persist. That event became the main source of terrorist and extremist activity that continues and even increases in the Sahara-Sahel countries, in West Africa and other parts of the continent.

At this stage, we have agreed to pay priority attention to the efforts that would give a boost to our trade and economic links and investment cooperation to reach the same high level as our political dialogue as well as links in defence and security, humanitarian affairs and education. There are several rather interesting proposals to this effect and President Mahamat Idriss Deby also mentioned them today.

We have agreed that our Chadian friends would communicate their wishes about the forms of cooperation and the sectors of their economy where they would consider presence of Russian economic operators useful.

A delegation of the Chadian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is attending the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. The chamber has opened a permanent representative office in Russia. It is an important and stable channel for exchanging opinions on what sort of projects would serve the interests of Chad’s economic development, contribute to resolving social issues and follow the principle of mutual benefit.

Our common view is that the tasks set last January at the level of presidents, must be our priorities. Today, we have discussed immediate steps to progress in these tasks. Our financial and economic government bodies and agencies dealing with investment and other associated issues will pick it up.

I believe we have had a constructive conversation and will keep working harder.

Question (translated from French): You have been touring Africa for several days now. Today, you are here. Can we say that this visit consists of assessing what has been achieved in Russia’s relations with Chad? We noted that there were several items on your agenda today, including education. Infrastructure is one of the topics we are interested in. What can you say about it? How will Russia assist Chad and other African countries?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding infrastructure, as I have already said, we asked our friends in Chad to draft a list of economic and infrastructure-related proposals where they would like to work with Russian economic actors.

Our companies have built a positive track record when it comes to infrastructure. In particular, Russian Railways works in many African countries and has been coming up with projects to build railways and the corresponding infrastructure. If this sector is on the list of proposals that we will receive from our friends in Chad, the reaction will be positive on our behalf. Let me emphasise that we have a wealth of experience in this sector.

Question (translated from French): The Western policy of interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states caused the Ukraine crisis. What is Chad’s attitude towards the Western approaches to regime change and its failure to respect the independence of other countries, or the traditions and values of their people?

Sergey Lavrov (after Abderaman Koulamallah): First, we fully respect Chad and other countries in their position which consists of emphasising their neutrality. Just like Chad, we would also prefer talks. Moreover, these talks took place in April 2022, at Ukraine’s initiative, when Ukraine came forward with a basic outline of a peace treaty and a settlement. We agreed to these principles, and both sides initialled this text.

But then the Kiev regime’s Western masters prevented it from signing this document by saying that it must fight in order to inflict what they called a strategic defeat on Russia. For that, the West said, it would supply Kiev with the cutting-edge weapons. This is what they are doing right now. They have been delivering long-range missiles and publicly telling Ukraine to attack any target on the territory of the Russian Federation. In the meantime, they are convening a would-be peace conference in Switzerland. It is scheduled to take place in ten days.

But where do these two lines meet? It is hard to understand that. You can either stand for inflicting what they call a strategic defeat on Russia, or for holding peace conferences. But if you side with the peace cause, this probably means that, as Mr Koulamallah has just said, all the involved parties must contribute to finding a solution, instead of convening a conference in Switzerland for reasserting or supporting Vladimir Zelensky’s infamous formula without any reservations. This formula boils down to an ultimatum and implies Russia’s strategic defeat. And we are supposed to voluntarily accept it.

Peace is not what the organisers of this conference want. In their efforts to ensure that countries representing the Global Majority attend this conference, they are guided by the following principle, and have been quite open about it: it is up to you to choose sides, whether you stand with us, or with Russia. We will punish those who side with Russia. This is what this conference is all about.

Lastly, and I hope that I am not revealing any secrets here, many African leaders, just as President of Chad Mahamat Déby Into said today, have long pleaded for mutual respect among all countries around the world. We have heard more than once that the time when Western ambassadors could walk into the offices of African presidents and order them to act in a certain way are gone. Thank God, we have put this behind us.

What is now happening in Ukraine is following a post-colonial pattern. Senior government officials of the Kiev regime receive their instructions from Western ambassadors. So it is up to you to draw the conclusions. We state our position in all honesty.

Question (translated from French): You said that Chad was setting an example for other Sahel states, while facing security challenges. Is Russia ready to help Chad deal with these grave challenges? If so, then how?

Sergey Lavrov: I covered this topic in detail on two occasions today. I have mentioned the agreements on defence and military-technical cooperation, which the Russian Federation and the Republic of Chad signed long ago.  These agreements were not left on paper; they are being implemented. The Chadian armed and security forces receive Russian weapons and military equipment that strengthen your country’s defence capability and enable it to fight terrorism more effectively. This cooperation will go on.

Question: Russia and Chad discussed major joint projects in geological exploration, the use of subsurface resources, and nuclear power production in Chad. Have you managed to reach some specific agreements? Maybe some companies are ready to come here, aren’t they?

Sergey Lavrov: We did reach certain specific agreements. Our Chadian friends will soon compile a list of projects, in which they would welcome Russian corporate involvement. The areas you are talking about – power industry, agriculture, etc. – we have mentioned them, too.  President of Chad Mahamat Idriss Deby was particularly interested in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He mentioned the experience that Russia’s Rosatom Company, one of the world leaders in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, had amassed while cooperating with African countries (and not only African).

We will expect concrete proposals from our Chadian friends. We are ready to send down an economic mission to discuss promising projects on the ground. We have reached an agreement on this today.

Question (translated from French): Will relations between Chad and the Russian Federation affect the relationship between France and Chad?

Chad is supporting other countries, specifically neighbouring countries like the Sudan. Can Chad strengthen relations with other countries? What is your position? There are many migrants in this country now. Isn’t this the consequence of the Sudan developments?  

Sergey Lavrov (after Abderaman Koulamallah): Efforts are being taken by Chad and likely to be taken by other countries to bring peace back to the Sudan… There is no doubt that this war is pernicious. It already involves refugee flows and terrorist threats. As in other cases, all sides should sit down to the negotiating table and come to terms on the mode of living for their people.

Let me remind you that the Sudan’s problems are of long standing. At some point, the United States started to insist that the Sudan must be divided into Sudan and South Sudan and had its way. President Omar al-Bashir cooperated within the framework of this agreement.  It would seem that Washington had reached one of its foreign policy goals. Soon, however, the United States “took offense” at how both Sudan and South Sudan behaved and introduced sanctions against them. The “experiment” has failed. They want to spit on people’s destinies, and will only mind their own interests. Right now, everyone must stop and engage in negotiations.  Like in Libya or any other crisis area.

We support what Chad is doing. We also understand that it is one of the most heavily dependent states in terms of the consequences of that confrontation.

As for your former question, I can guarantee that out friendship with Chad will in no way affect our relations with France. France has different approaches. It proceeds from the assumption that either you are with us or against us.

I recall an episode that happened at the UN General Assembly session some five years ago. The then French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell approached me and started asking questions, like why we were sending Russian military instructors to Mali? I was taken aback and asked: What’s the problem? The legitimate Malian leaders had asked us to. I explained that their request related, among other things, to the fact that the French were withdrawing their armed units from Mali, where they were supposed to fight terrorism. But I was told once again that Mali was a “French influence zone.” As simple as that.

We have a different principle. We are friends with those who want to be friends. We never ally with someone against someone else.


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