Gaborone — Increased high level exchange visits are instrumental in stengthening and broadening the scope of Botswana and Russia bilateral relations, says International Affairs and Cooperation Ministry permanent secretary Mr Gaeimelwe Goitsemang.
Speaking at the Russia Day celebrations in Gaborone on Tuesday, Mr Goitsemang said commitment to regular convening of the bilateral consultative forum, in the form of Botswana/Russia political consultations, continued to serve the two countries well.
Mr Goitsemang said a consultative meeting was held in Moscow last year to deepen the strategic partnership and cooperation at all levels of human development.
The political consultation mechanism, he said, played an important role as it continued to demonstrate the two countries' commitment in strengthening bilateral relations.
The permanent secretary said this year's political consultations would be held in Botswana and assured the Russian ambassador that they were ready to fulfill their obligations.
He said Botswana would be waiting for a mutually convenient date to convene the consultative meeting to reflect on the state of the bilateral cooperation.
Mr Goitsemang acknowledged that bilateral relations were stronger at government level but were still limited when considering people to people interaction.
The latter was critical if commercial activities between the two countries were to increase, he said.
Mr Goitsemang said conclusion of the agreement on visa abolition between the two countries would go a long way in facilitating people to people interaction and ease of doing business.
Mr Goitsemang noted that June 12 marked the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Botswana and Russia which signified their long-standing friendship and enduring partnership.
The mutually beneficial relations had become multi-dimensional covering fields of defence, diplomacy, education, trade, health and mining.
He said Russia Day was worth celebrating as it was symbolic of the major democratic and economic transformation agenda that Russia embarked upon since 1992 following the country's independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Mr Goitsemang said the day was not only for the country to look back and take stock of achievements made over the years but also to look into the future.
Russian Ambassador to Botswana Mr Victor Sibilev said bilateral cooperation between the two countries could be enhanced if Botswana were to open an embassy in Moscow.
Mr Sibilev said Russia was engaged in training of Botswana specialists in different areas including mining, engineering, medicine, IT and others under the memorandum of understanding signed in 2016.
The ambassador said under the MoU between the two countries' ministries of education, the quota of Russian scholarships annually allocated to Botswana had increased to 30, five of which were reserved for medical specialties.
He said there were around 300 Batswana students studying in Russian universities both on state sponsored and commercial basis.
Source : BOPA