The two presiding officers of the Namibian parliament, speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi and chairperson of the National Council Bernard Sibalatani have praised the long-standing relations between Namibia and Russia, further adding that inter-parliamentary cooperation has the potential to improve the work of the legislature.
They said this during a joint meeting with the visiting Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matviyenko last week.
Matviyenko visited the country on invitation by the National Council to explore parliament-to-parliament relations and cooperation in other areas of mutual interest between the two countries.
Katjavivi noted that Namibia and Russia relations date back to the time of Namibia's struggle for freedom, adding that Russia has continued its support to Namibia post-independence. "Russia and its people have been with us even during the difficult time when we were fighting for our independence. They continued and continue to train our professionals in various fields. It is on this basis that we should deepen our long-standing relations," stated Katjavivi.
The speaker suggested that the two parliaments explore possible areas of cooperation, singling out exchange visits and the monitoring and evaluation of sustainable development goals (SDGs). "The two parliaments should work together to identify areas that should constitute our linkage. We should strengthen our networking as members of the IPU and share experiences with regard to the monitoring and evaluation of SDGs," implored Katjavivi.
Sibalatani shared similar sentiments, noting that capacity building endeavours such as exchange programmes between the two legislatures would improve the work of the Namibian parliament, given Russia's vast experience. "Indeed, the Russia Federation has been our friend through the hardest of times during our liberation struggle. We would like to share experiences in terms of service delivery and the involvement of local communities in socio-economic and political issues. This would improve lawmaking," said Sibalatani.
Matviyenko acknowledged the importance of cooperation between the two parliaments, hinting that the two parliaments were looking at the possibility of signing memoranda of understanding to lay down the legal foundation for the envisaged cooperation. She further noted that a previous meeting between Namibian President Hage Geingob and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi last year, where the two exchanged views, particularly on energy, gave new impetus for further cooperation between the two countries.
"We are grateful to have seen Namibia at the IPU in Russia in 2017. Cooperation at IPU level is of utmost importance. When the two presidents met in Sochi, they created conditions to push our business and investment relations further. Cooperation between our two parliaments can also assist in the deepening of this friendship," noted Matviyenko.
At a meeting with Geingob, in a series of events that formed part of her visit, both Matviyenko and the Namibian head of state were in agreement to design a policy framework meant for visa liberalisation between the two countries. Other areas of interest included the increase in the number of scholarships to Namibians to study in Russia, youth exchange programmes and mineral exploration.
Matviyenko presented a donation of drought relief food items to the Office of the Prime Minister. She also laid a wreath at Heroes' Acre in remembrance of fallen Namibian heroes and heroines.