Joint Media Conference Remarks by President Zuma on the conclusion of bilateral talks with HE President Putin of the Russian Federation, Durban
26 March 2013
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the Media
It is my great pleasure to host H.E. President Putin and to welcome him for his Working Visit to South Africa.
Bilateral relations between South Africa and Russia have developed well since the establishment of the diplomatic relations in the early nineties.
We have now celebrated the 21st Anniversary of our relations in February 2013.
I wish to take this opportunity to once again affirm our strategic partnership with Russia, as I did on my visit there in August 2010.
The meeting today provided an opportunity for a frank appraisal of the status of our bilateral relations and an exchange of views on regional and multilateral issues of common interest in Africa, BRICS, G20, Middle East and the UN.
Work between our two countries has progressed to the point where we have signed the Durban Declaration for Strategic Partnership. This establishes a Presidential Bilateral Mechanism and defines Programme areas that will guide the SA-Russia Strategic Partnership.
The signing of nine (9) Agreements today in the fields of Agriculture, Arts and Culture, Defence, Education, Energy, Fisheries, Mining, Science and Technology and Transport is a major achievement that will enhance the substance of our bilateral relations.
The visit also enabled us to exchange views on the unfolding regional and global challenges, especially peace and security issues in Africa and the Middle East.
I have also thanked President Putin for his invitation to me to attend the G20 Summit later this year in Russia. We look forward to taking the Development Agenda of the G20 forward.
We were also able to exchange views ahead of the 5th BRICS Summit and the first BRICS Summit in Africa, as well as the priorities of the BRICS Africa Retreat.
We believe that our strategic and mutually beneficial partnership with the Russian Federation will continue to thrive.
Amongst the highlights of this visit, is the launch of the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Centre between South Africa's DENEL and Russian Helicopters.
This is an important development in our relations. The launch of the MRO centre is the first accredited one for Russian Helicopters in Africa.
DENEL and Russian Helicopters have been in talks since 2009, and it has culminated today in this exciting event. The Centre carries accreditation to perform maintenance on Russian helicopters, types MI-8 and MI-17.
The relationship between these aviation companies was made possible by the Joint Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) framework and the Bilateral Agreement between our countries.
The facility is here for all Russian Helicopters and aircraft systems operators in the Continent, and will enable the operators to derive the benefits of DENEL's extensive after sales support presence across our Continent.
A further benefit for other African countries is that DENEL's licensed technicians are available to provide on the job training, assisting with improved turnaround of aircraft and the proximity of the MRO Centre providing readily available spares.
We congratulate the Russian Federation on the successful bids to host two upcoming important events, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
We are ready to assist and share our experience from hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup successfully.
Indeed, we have already had exchanges in this regard, through the South Africa-Russia Business Council and in the visit last year of a technical delegation to Russia.
We have every confidence that these events will be successful and memorable.
I am pleased that arrangements are already in place for the Russian National Soccer Team to play against our national squad Bafana Bafana sometime this year. We intend to give the Russians a very hard time on the field!
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,
I would like to invite President Putin to address you.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency, March 26 2013
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