(Photo: Al-Sir Mukhtar) Russia is considered one of the first countries that have established solid and deeply rooted relations with the Sudan. These strong ties have reflected in political developments and exchange of visits by the officials of the two countries and conclusion of a number of agreements in the various fields of joint cooperation. One of the latest agreements signed between the two countries stipulated setting up of a strategic council for supporting joint economic cooperation between Sudan and Russia for peace and development with the participation of a number of companies.
These relations have also been characterized with coordination and exchange of support between the two countries in the international forums.
Russia also assumes an effective role in boosting the peace process in Sudan.
To shed more light on the friendly relations between Russia and Sudan, Sudan Vision daily sat with the Ambassador of Russia to Sudan, H.E. Mirgayas M. Shirinskiy, who gave the following interview which coincides the Russian National Day Anniversary
Q: At the outset, we would like your Excellency to shed more light on the bilateral relations between Russia and Sudan, especially in the political, economic, social and cultural fields?
A: The relations between Sudan and Russia are now at their best level and based on solid foundation. Last year, 2016, a number of Sudanese delegations visited Russia to participate in its celebrations of the National Day. The relations between Russia and Sudan have reached a high-level of development. These relations are based on solid foundation of traditions as well as on understanding between the leaderships of the two countries, President Field Marshal Omer Al Bashir and President Vladimir Putin. This political understanding is considered as the backbone for the political relations between the two countries and all fields of exchanges between the two countries, including the international forums, the United Nations Security Council, the UN General Assembly besides the regional forums.
Q: What are the aspects of technical cooperation between Sudan and Russia?
A: There are more than 17,000 Sudanese who studied and graduated from the institutes and universities of the Soviet Union.
Q: To what extent Russia contributes to boosting the stability of the situation in Darfur.
A: We were present in a number of forums and symposiums concerning Darfur. We also participate in the United Nations and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) through the technical positions besides a number of Russian aviation companies that undertake logistic transport operations.
Q: What is the volume of trade exchange between Sudan and Russia?
A: The current volume of trade exchange between the two countries, which stands at 200 million dollars, is below the aspirations of the Russian people and government. There are capabilities and endeavors to raise and increase the volume of trade exchange between the two countries to 20 billion dollars annually. This figure was cited by heads of the Russian and Sudanese sides in the joint ministerial committee on economic cooperation. The Russian Minister of Environment met the former Sudanese Minister of Minerals. I highly commend the contributions made by the former Sudanese Minister of Minerals in boosting cooperation between the two countries. I am also confident the new Sudanese Minister of Minerals would continue these efforts.
Q: Are there major Russian investment companies operating in Sudan?
A: Yes, there are major Russian investment companies operating in Sudan, such as Kush Company that works in the field of gold mining in the Red Sea area. Its annual production of gold amounts to two tons. The company started its work in Sudan three years ago and entered into the production process two years ago. It depends in its operations on advanced technology and does not use mercury in the gold production process. The company provides employment opportunities for many Sudanese citizens and serve as a model for attracting more Russian companies to operate in the same field in Sudan.
Two months ago, the Sudanese Ministry of Minerals signed an agreement with a new Russian mining company, the Acropol company, and assigned it a block for operations. The company promised to make big investments in Sudan and bring modern mining technologies. We would like to note that many other Russian companies are seeking opportunities for investment in Sudan in the field of minerals and oil.
Q: Would Your Excellency shed more light on the strategic council for cooperation between the two countries, set up recently?
Q: Yes, there is a strategic council for boosting the Sudanese-Russian cooperation for peace and development. This initiative has been made by the director of the peace program at the presidency Abdel-Hafeez Mohamed Ahmed and the Sudanese businessman Osama Nabiel Sobhi. The council comprises form the Sudanese and Russian sides, the Russian and Sudanese business councils and a number of other companies. We hope that the council would undertake fruitful activities in boosting peace and development in Sudan.
Q: Has the Council started its activities now?
A: Yes, it has started its activities now. I would like to note that there is also the higher council for cooperation with Russia, China and India, which is chaired by H.E. President Omer Al Bashir and Dr. Awad Al Jaz.
Q: Your Excellency, do you expect entry of more Russian companies for investment in Sudan following the lifting of the economic sanctions that had been imposed on Sudan?
A: Yes, definitely. Our position from the unilateral sanctions is well known. We consider such sanctions as illegal and call for their lifting soonest. Our position politically is known. The sole body that has the right to do so is the Security Council.
Q: How do you regard the political dialogue and the formation of the National Accord Government?
A: We welcome the Government of National Accord and the outcome of the National Dialogue and the formation of the government under the chairmanship of First Vice President Gen. Bakri Hassan Saleh. We are following up with satisfaction the political developments in Sudan which aim at boosting security, stability and peace in the country and normalizing relations with the neighboring and other countries.
Q - What the role played by Russia in Supporting DDPD?
A- We support DDPD, and appreciate the positive role of Qatar, and support political solutions and peace in Darfur region
Q- What is your comment on terrorism and religious extremism in the world?
A- We are against terrorism and extremism in Syria, and we had faced that in Chechnya and considered a number of their leaders as terrorists, and we are looking to the Sudanese government position on fighting terrorism and we appreciate the action taken by it in the said regard.
Q- Where is the Russian mining company, which appeared in Sudan two years ago and expressed desire to invest in Sudan?
A-Yes, there was a fuss about this company in the various Sudanese media, but the concerned Siberian company is not Russian, but owned by Russian citizen, it is a Sudanese company according to the Sudanese law.
Q- Do you expect opening of the Russian Cultural Center in Khartoum after lifting the economic sanctions?
A- The Russian cultural centre in Khartoum was active, but it had been closed In the 1990s, where Russia was at a difficult stage, so many forms emerged to play the role of the cultural center, such as The Russian Friendship Society at University of Khartoum
Q- Council of International People Friendship (CIPF) is considered an active body working and seeking the solidarity of the world peoples, what is your comment?
A- We think that the CIPF is an active body, and we cooperate with it in the cultural work and others.
Q- How many Russians in Sudan?
A- Their number is about 500 people and many Russians married by Sudanese, and there are Russians who work in UNAMID mission and military experts.
Q- You have been living in Sudan for three years, what do you like in Sudan?
A- The Sudanese people are open-hearted and always ready to deal with others, beside their generosity and honor
Q- What is Russia's position on the ICC and its accusations against African leaders?
A - Russia has signed the Rome Statute but has not ratified the ICC and Russia is not a member of the court as it has not followed the right approach and punish people on political grounds and best example of that its accusations against President Omer Al-Bashir.
Q- Russia plays mediator role in the gulf crisis, your comment please?
A-Both positions of Khartoum and Moscow are one position towards the Gulf crisis, we called the crisis parties to solve the differences between them peacefully through dialogue, and we think that this differences in the gulf states will weaken the joint front against terrorism, and it is known that the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince had visited Moscow recently, while the Qatari Foreign Minister also visited Russia two days ago, and that proved that Moscow exerts its utmost efforts in the solution of the said crisis, and we referred to the appeal and call of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, which calls for solving the said differences, besides the statement of the Sudanese Foregn Minister, Prof. Ibrahim Ghandour, which affirmed the need to find a peaceful solution to the said crisis.
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