Russian Foreign Minister makes first visit to Burundi
After Kenya, and before South Africa, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Burundi late Tuesday morning, May 30, accompanied by a delegation of 25 people. This is the first visit by a Russian foreign minister to the country. He was greeted by his counterpart Albert Shingiro with whom he spoke, before the two men spoke to the press.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Burundian counterpart Albert Shingiro at a press conference in Bujumbura, May 30, 2023. AFP - HANDOUT
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Tangible progress and challenges to be met": this is how Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Shingiro summed up the bilateral relationship with Russia, after what he described as "fruitful" talks with his counterpart.
Two months ago, he went to Sochi, on the Black Sea, to meet Sergey Lavrov. This time, the two men met in Bujumbura as part of the tour organized at the last minute by the head of Russian diplomacy, which comes a few days after that of the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs on the African continent.
Albert Shingiro announced "a diversification" of the partnership with Moscow: cooperation agreements on education, health, energy, civil service, justice, and even civil nuclear should be signed at the Russia-Africa summit at the end of July in St. Petersburg.
On the subject of the war in Ukraine, "Burundi has chosen to be on the side of solutions and not problems," said Alain Shingiro, "we have adopted an abstentionist and non-aligned position to prevent this conflict from reaching Africa, this is the position of most African countries."
We obviously talked about the conflicts we have at that time in the world and I told him that for Burundi, for example, with regard to the situation in Ukraine, Burundi has chosen to be on the side of solutions and not on the side of problems. We have taken an abstentionist position, a position of neutrality, a position of non-alignment, to prevent this conflict from reaching other regions, particularly the African continent. The impact of this conflict, of this situation in Ukraine, must be mitigated. In particular, by taking a position of neutrality and this is the position of most African countries on this issue.
Minister Albert Shingiro: "We have taken an abstentionist position, a position of neutrality, a position of non-alignment"
After Burundi, Sergei Lavrov is expected in South Africa where he is due to participate in a preparatory meeting for the BRICS summit to be held there at the end of August.
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