President Vladimir Putin met with President Isaias Afwerki of the State of Eritrea on the sidelines of the second Russia-Africa Summit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends.
I am happy to meet with you again and to have the opportunity to compare notes on current issues. Russia and Eritrea maintain friendly relations that continue to develop on the principles of equality and mutual respect; last May we marked the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
A couple of months ago you visited Russia and we held in-depth talks, and discussed promising areas for cooperation between our countries, mapping out concrete steps to develop them.
On my instruction, an ad hoc high-level inter-departmental working group was set up, and it will be led by my aide, Mr. Maxim Oreshkin, who will be looking into opportunities to boost trade and step up economic cooperation between our countries. We are looking forward to the appointment of a coordinator of all these issues representing your country.
I expect our meeting today and your participation in today’s all-African discussion – its outcome, at least – to contribute to strengthening relations between Russia and Eritrea.
I am very happy to see you and, once again, welcome.
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President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki: I have been patiently listening to people talking at these meetings and there is one issue that worries me. I just want to articulate that issue and tell you our views, at least how we see the situation from our perspective.
When people talk about Russia and Ukraine, I say that there is no Russia-Ukraine war at all, there is no Russia-Ukraine conflict. This is a war that was declared by NATO on Russia. The war declared by NATO on Russia is not only against Russia; its aim is to dominate the whole world.
This is an agenda they developed after the end of the Cold War. They came up with this fantasy about containing Russia, containing any power – small or big – that challenges them technologically, economically, socially, and culturally. They have to contain everybody.
This is a defunct ideology. I say Russia did not prepare to face this declared war, even though Russia was aware of the dynamics of what was going on. NATO is defunct. NATO does not exist. NATO is in intensive care. The EU does not exist. The EU is in intensive care. Thirty years ago, when they decided to contain Russia, they felt that it was a major threat to them.
China was not considered a threat at that time. Now they know that they missed the point. They could not contain Russia. They will never contain Russia. Ukraine is a sacrifice. Ukraine is a price they have to pay. They are not paying on their own: they will provide billions and billions even trillions to continue this war.
Now we need to look at the narrative thread: this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine; this is a declared war against Russia because Russia was a major threat to them. Now they have to defeat Russia so that they hegemonize everything.
They need to be your equals technologically, and militarily, they have to be superior economically, they have to control everything, grab every resource here and there, and get technology under their control. That dream is no more.
The fighting going on in Ukraine is their battleground. That battleground is a sacrifice for them. We need to put this thread on the record when a big meeting like this Russia-Africa summit is held, people will have to come to a consensus – this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine to me, and anyone who has a different explanation will have to tell me.
This is a war declared on Russia but a war declared to achieve hegemony. In the last 30 years, I have seen the details of the mechanism of this declared war; this last event is the final phase to me. It will end sometime. NATO will not get out of intensive care. The EU will not get out of intensive care. These systems are crumbling. It is only a matter of time.
The whole world will have to be prepared not to defend Russia but to stand with Russia so that this hegemonistic ideology does not prevail at any point in history.
How do we design a plan? How do we make their plan fail without any further cost? They are printing money. They are not manufacturing anything at all; it is all about printing money. And this is one of their weapons. The global monetary system is controlled by the dollar and the euro is being used. They are introducing sanctions and freezing accounts – these are their tools. This is not going to continue indefinitely.
We need a new financial architecture, globally, one that is not controlled by the euro, the dollar or other currencies. Following this failed attempt to contain Russia they will immediately move to the East: containing China is their next agenda. They are playing a very deceptive tactic, telling everyone: “Oh, no, we have to work with China, we have to do this and that.”
Their calculation about China has proved to be wrong. They have failed: they probably have the technology, they have everything, the Chinese can only copy those things, but they will never equal them. So, they will contain Russia while promoting friendship with China and continuing to use it so that containing Russia would be easier for them.
Now China is out of control. Containing China from Taiwan, from India, from Japan, from the South Kurils, from Australia – how do they do it, how will they do it? That challenge is coming next, but first, they need to deal with Russia. How do they want to deal with Russia and then move on to China? How can they deal with everybody? How do they contain us?
Imagine, this time Eritrea is being contained by them. We are being punished with their sanctions all the time. We have to be punished because we are not bowing to their conditionalities. We are a very small threat; we are not even a threat to them. But they have to contain us: sanctions, sanctions, sanctions, conflict here, conflict there.
I think we need to strategise and I say Russia will have to lead this strategy. Russia will have to design a plan on facing this declared war, not only on Russia, but this is a global war. Everybody should come and join Russia in this strategy, and the sooner, the better. The easiest way for us to control their hegemonistic strategy and frustrate that strategy is to have peace, and then development will come.
Nobody is going to bother us, nobody is going to bully anybody. They are using defamation, demonization, psychological warfare, sanctions. We will need an alternative strategy to deal with this hegemonistic declaration of war. And every event – bilateral or multilateral – will have to adopt this strategy, and that is why I say during my remarks that Russia should design a strategy.
It is not because Russia will have to do everything; we can make our contribution. It is a matter of ideas: how do we face this hegemonistic strategy in a way that we are able to implement bilateral programs, technology, industrialization, agriculture, energy, water management, services, tourism, life in general – how do we do that?
Now, we have to look at this in the historical context. This is a continuation of classical slavery. After slavery came colonialism. Slavery was exterminating populations. Nine million people were exterminated in the Congo, Indians were exterminated in North America and in Canada. They were exterminating indigenous populations and grabbing control of their land.
And when they got control of the land, they had to bring slaves from Africa for their cotton plantations in the United States. That was slavery, and it continues. Then industrialization came. That was a matter of grabbing other countries’ resources and the continuation of slavery. Then a different form – colonialism – came: they colonized territories so that they could grab control of the land, and then they controlled labour and enslaved everybody.
Then there was neo-colonialism and the Cold War. Russia was the hope of the people of the world during the period of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, leaders in the Soviet Union made mistakes that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was a historic tragedy, as you said at one point. That was a historic tragedy: in the course of the history of humanity that was a catastrophe.
That was one of the reasons that encouraged people like Fukuyama and Huntington to design their strategy of hegemony. Because the Soviet Union collapsed, the Soviet Union disintegrated, and they felt that they could control the world for the coming 50 or 100 years without anyone challenging them.
That was when this hegemonistic fantasy emerged. We have seen what they have done over the last 30 years. It is a continuation of the same ideology of slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and then hegemony.
The world will have to overcome this state of affairs. We are at a crossroads. We believe we are in transition to a new world order. How do we design a new world order? How can we possibly strategize, how do we use the resources, and how do we make people everywhere aware that this threat exists. And if they get out of this situation, they can enjoy their liberty, their freedom, their development without this hegemonistic idea.
I think this issue will have to be thoroughly addressed and we need to come up with concrete plans. We will make our modest contribution, but we have the understanding that this Russia-Africa partnership is one part of the bigger global partnership that we will have to develop.
Russia will have to take the lead because Russia has been targeted and is still being targeted. They might dream of using the war in Ukraine now to weaken Russia and they probably dream about the same event happening. The collapse of Russia will be a big advantage for them. It is a dream. They are now spending trillions and trillions by printing money to run the show in Ukraine. This will have to end at some point.
We need to look beyond that. Our bilateral partnership is based on our understanding of this historic mission of Russia. Russia has a historic mission to play. On behalf of everybody in the world, I can say who is the leader of this show – Mr. Vladimir Putin is the leader of the show. Russia should take the lead because of the challenge that we are facing.
I am not flattering anyone. I am not doing any favour to you. I say this is a global challenge and we have to overcome it by identifying the role of each and every one of us in the whole story.
Economic programs, energy, water, infrastructure – you name it. Everyone will have a strategy and will define their goals and objectives. Once we have a strategy in place, we will draw detailed plans on each and every sector, each and every industry. We will mobilize the resources for implementing those programs and we will see that implementing them will change people’s lives in Africa, Asia, Latin America, even Europe and the United States also.
Our detailed plans for sectoral programs are ready: on each and every sector we have our own strategic plan. We have considered the details of each and every item of an infrastructure program: roads, ports, airports, railways, energy programs, water preservation and water management programs, irrigation, introducing technologies, and our human resource development strategies. We discussed it yesterday with one of your ministers. We agreed on the details of how we will go about this because the development of our human resources is a priority for us. There could be other resources: oil, gas, minerals, and so on. But human resources are our human capital. We need to invest in that and we can rely on the Russian Federation to help develop our capacity to implement developmental programs by guaranteeing the qualified human resources that we need. The details are there.
Do we have the money? We will try to mobilize every single penny, and if we cannot mobilize this resource, we will say to our partners in the Russian Federation: “These are our plans, and if you have an idea or an opinion, or alternatives we would like to listen.”
Mobilizing resources is a shared responsibility and we can mobilize our own resources from whatever is available: mining, agriculture, manufacturing. We can do that.
Thank you for your patience. [Kremlin]