INTERNATIONAL

Russia-Egypt Cooperation in Education Becoming More Profound, Minister Says

Exclusive The II International Forum of Ministers of Education “Shaping the Future” takes place on June 10-11 in Russia’s Kazan. It brought together representatives of 46 delegations from 39 countries, including those from African countries. Russia-Egypt cooperation in education is increasingly deepening, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Egypt Mohamed Ayman Ashour told Sputnik Africa on the sidelines of the II International Forum of Ministers of Education in Russia’s Kazan. Universities of the two countries are actively collaborating: for example, branches of Russian high schools have been established in the African country, the minister noted. “Also, we discussed together how to increase the number of universities by establishing a new consortium in the new city of Borg El Arab, in the north of Egypt, also to boost other universities from Russia, in order to give good new [educational] programs in Egypt. We discussed the new programs in the new technological universities, how to connect between the technological universities here in Russia and in Egypt,” he said. Russia and Egypt are also discussing the introduction of hard science programs at Egyptian universities to support the technological part of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant in the northern part of the country. “We also started to negotiate and to agree together for the new corporation and protocol between our ministry in Egypt and the Ministry of Higher Education here in Russia, and we are looking forward to the cooperation,” the minister concluded. During the forum, the parties held a meeting where the Minister of Science and Higher Education of Russia, Valery Falkov, noted that Russia highly values the long-standing relationship between the two countries (last year marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations), during which “a great deal has been achieved thanks to well-structured relations in the scientific and educational sphere.” In turn, Ashour noted the high level of Russian education, reminding that he is a graduate of the postgraduate program at the Moscow Architectural Institute. Today, there are 118 agreements and memoranda in the field of science and higher education between universities in Russia and Egypt, 56 of which were signed in 2023, and 19 more are planned for this year. Examples of active collaboration between the two countries include the branches of Saint Petersburg State University and Kazan (Volga) Federal University opened in Cairo, where more than 750 students are studying. Cooperation in the scientific sphere is also developing. At the moment, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia is evaluating applications for a new competitive selection of joint applied scientific research projects with African countries, including Egypt. The II International Forum of Ministers of Education is organized by the Ministry of Education of Russia, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, and the Foundation for the Support of Humanitarian Sciences “My History.”

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BRICS Supports Multilateralism, ‘Humanity and Its Progress,’ South Africa’s Foreign Minister States

Exclusive Naledi Pandor, the Foreign Minister of South Africa, participated in the BRICS foreign ministers’ conference in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod that was held on Monday and Tuesday. During the meeting, she engaged in discussions with her counterparts from the BRICS member nations on various topics. BRICS supports multilateralism as well as “humanity and its progress,” South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, told Sputnik Africa in an interview on Monday. “As BRICS, we fully support multilateralism. […] We don’t believe that there’s some country in the world that is so great that it must tell all of us what we should do. No, we don’t accept that,” she said. The recent expansion of the bloc is one of the steps to promote multipolarity, and both South Africa and Russia apply this principle in practice. “I’m so happy that we [South Africa] are the ones who introduced the expansion, and Russia is the one who is implementing it practically. So South Africa and Russia are working in a conjoined manner,” she said. Pandor noted that the enlargement was “the second most important big step” that the bloc made after the creation of the New Development Bank. The diplomat also urged reforming the UN so that it could ensure greater security and peace across the globe, since BRICS wants to see an equitable world where there is no inclination to start or escalate wars. “We believe the premier multilateral body is the United Nations. We don’t want to create an alternative to it, but we believe the United Nations must be reformed, it must pay greater attention to development, and it must have the ability to enhance peace and security,” the minister pondered. A striking example that demonstrates the need for changes in the UN is the case of South Africa against Israel’s genocidal actions in Gaza at the International Court of Justice. This legal battle “exposed the inadequacy” of the UN in its “ability to enforce peace and security” and protect civilians. According to Pandor, the reason Pretoria went to court “very early on” after Israel began its military operation in the enclave was to try to prevent genocide. She expressed hope that all nations around the globe will support the case because it concerns humanity and human rights, adding that “we have enough world power to be able to stop it.” Another crucial issue on the BRICS agenda is payments in national currencies. One of the biggest steps on the path to developing an alternative international payment system was the establishment of the BRICS Bank, according to Pandor. She explained that a new system is needed as the current one is rigged against the members of the bloc. “This is a very big agenda item for us as BRICS countries because we believe the current international payment system is skewed against us because it’s so dependent on one currency in the world that when that currency is not available or when we are sanctioned because of it, we do not have access to international trade opportunities,” the South African top diplomat said. Pandor noted that the bloc can learn from the Russia-India example: the two countries already trade in local currencies. However, she warned that since the economies of each BRICS member are different in size and other characteristics, it is important to conduct careful research when creating a common financial framework for the bloc. “So everything must be approached with proper research and very, very well articulated practices which strengthen our economies and not weaken them. […] Every decision you take must be well-informed. It must achieve the results that you want. And it must give us that independence that we desire as the BRICS countries,” the minister explained. Such research is already underway, which Pandor is “very excited” about. BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors are working on the issue and will report at the BRICS summit in Russia’s Kazan in October on what can be done. During the interview, Sputnik Africa also raised the topic of Russia-South Africa relations development in the light of recent elections in the rainbow nation. Pandor stated that the two countries are “very, very good friends” and this will remain after the elections, reminding that Russia and South Africa work closely together in many areas, including water sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical sciences, and space exploration. “Russian businesses have also invested in South Africa, in the fuel sector, in energy, in minerals, and play a very critical role in helping to create jobs for South Africans and to grow our economy. So, we have a very positive relationship, and we’re happy about that,” the minister said. Speaking of elections, she said the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was aware that “a lot of money” had been used to finance some of the country’s new political parties “in an effort to disrupt the ANC and its policy.” “But we came out as the largest party. And so we will influence the future,” Pandor noted. She assured, however, that bilateral relations won’t change, even though the ANC didn’t get the majority during the voting, and that they were moving forward to form a coalition. “We’re not negotiating as a junior partner, but we’re also not being arrogant in the negotiations. But we’re very clear on our foreign policy. You can’t have a South Africa that would be negative or hostile about Russia. Russia played a very important role in the freedom struggle, supporting the liberation movements. There’s no way that with a government led by the ANC that we would have some negative attitude in foreign policy toward Russia,” Pandor stated, adding that the party hopes for Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election as president. Moreover, Pandor commented on the Ukrainian conflict and strive for peace. The top diplomat noted that her country is trying to “create conditions” for both parties – Russia and Ukraine – to engage in direct talks, adding that all the meetings with Ukraine on the issue have been solely focused on the Ukraine peace plan which has been “consistently” pointed out by South Africa as “not good enough”.

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Egypt Considers Possibility of Payments With Russia in National Currencies, Trade Minister Says

CAIRO (Sputnik) – The public and private sectors in Egypt are discussing the possibility of payments with Russia in national currencies, Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Ahmed Samir told Sputnik on Monday. “Discussions are now underway in Egypt between stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as with the Central Bank of Egypt to explore ways to commercially settle between the two countries in national currencies and work to find a mechanism to realize this,” Samir said. Earlier, Egyptian Financial Minister Mohamed Maait told Sputnik, that Egypt would want to increase the role of the national currencies of Russia and Egypt in trade operations. “Trading in the Chinese yuan and Russian ruble will be of great importance for Egypt. We have commercial and economic agreements with these countries, and we are currently discussing all these issues with specialized institutions,” the minister said. The diversification of currencies used in trade will result in significant economic profit, the politician added.

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Russia Always Helps Africa in Its Struggle for Independence, Ambassador to Burkina Faso Says

On December 28, 2023, the Russian embassy in Ouagadougou resumed its operations after a 31-year hiatus. According to Karamoko Jean-Marie Traore, Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, the move indicates the “strengthening of diplomatic relations” between the countries, adding that Russia is “a truly strategic partner” for the West African country. Russia will always offer assistance to African nations in their pursuit of independence and strengthening their sovereignty, Russian Ambassador to Burkina Faso Igor Martynov told Sputnik Africa. “We see the growing desire of the peoples of Africa, and especially the countries of the Sahel, to restore independence, liberation from Western colonial yoke and equitable development,” he said. “Russia always extends a helping hand to African peoples in the struggle for independence and strengthening of sovereignty.” This assistance also includes supporting Burkina Faso in its fight against the terrorist threat in the country. Despite the difficult situation in the country from the security point of view, the country’s leadership is doing everything necessary to fix the situation, with reliable support from Russia, Martynov noted. “The leadership of Burkina Faso, led by President Ibrahim Traore, is taking vigorous measures to restore order in the country, restore security, and respect human rights. Russia plays an important role in providing assistance in this fight,” he said. The activities of terrorist organizations, along with drought, have also left part of the population of Burkina Faso virtually without food. Russia decided to help the people and last year delivered 25,000 tonnes of grain to Burkina Faso free of charge. During the delivery, Russia studied routes for future supplies of not only of grain, but also of fertilizers, with the aim of further developing relations between the two countries in the field of agriculture, Martynov noted. “We intend to actively attract Russian business to work in Burkina Faso’s agro-industrial sector to help local farmers improve their agriculture. Our plans include supplies of agricultural machinery, including from friendly Belarus, for Burkinabe farmers,” he said. Furthermore, the Russian Crimean Peninsula is interested in exchanging business missions and establishing close trade and economic cooperation. “It is quite possible that the first mission, a business mission, from Crimea to Burkina Faso will take place this year. Of course, the parties are working to fill the activities of the joint trade and economic commission,” the ambassador added. Russia and the African country also plan to cooperate in such a strategically important area as the use of peaceful nuclear energy. In March, the Russian corporation Rosatom signed a roadmap with Burkina Faso. “The road map defines specific steps to create the human resources potential of the West African country in the field of peaceful nuclear energy, develop nuclear infrastructure and create a positive public opinion regarding nuclear energy in Burkina Faso and other African countries. The parties expect to build a nuclear power plant by 2030,” the ambassador shared the details. Opinion Russia’s Influence to Be Positive for African People, Head of Russian House in Burkina Faso Says 30 March, 17:07 Cooperation between the countries is also growing in the cultural and educational spheres. On the anniversary of the victory over Germany in World War II, on May 9, an exhibition “10 Years of War in Donbass” was opened in Burkina Faso, which tells about “the atrocities and inhumane attitude of the Kiev authorities and the genocide of the Russian people” in the region, Martynov explained. He added that in exploring this exhibition, Burkinabe can relate it in a parallel to their own history. “The collective West diligently hides the truth about the war crimes of the Kiev regime and the real events in the Donbass. Local [Burkinabe] residents can find direct parallels between the events in Donbass and the policies pursued by France and other Western countries to prevent the free development of African countries,” the diplomat said. Ambitious projects are also planned in the field of education. In December last year, Vadim Lobov, the president of the Russian Synergy Corporation, which owns the university of the same name, agreed with the Prime Minister of Burkina Faso to open a branch of Synergy University in Burkina Faso. In addition to opening a branch, the university will be involved in a number of other projects. “The university will join the project to create virtual universities in Burkina Faso, which specialize in online education. Russia will provide its digital platforms for this. The university will train teaching staff to work in the digital, educational spheres, participate in the creation of a national career guidance system and testing future teachers, creating school education in Burkina Faso, online school education, helping Burkinabe people choose a profession,” said Martynov. Such initiatives, the diplomat noted, will help not only strengthen relations between the two countries in the humanitarian sphere, but will also “help in the development of digital technologies and the national education system of Burkina Faso.” “We [the embassy] will do our best to promote this project,” Martynov promised. Based on all of the above, there is a trend that both the government and the people of Burkina Faso (and not only of this country) have an increasingly positive attitude towards Russia. Sputnik Africa asked the ambassador what could be the reason for this. Martynov believed that this is due to Russia’s “open” and “non-discriminatory” approach to cooperation with Africa. “Russia’s policy towards African states has always remained and was based on the principles of non-interference, mutual respect and honest cooperation. Our strong stance towards Western states exhibiting neo-colonial ambitions has long been known to the African world. The Burkinabe people see and understand that well,” the diplomat concluded.

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First Stage of Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapon Drills Kicks Off in Russia’s Southern Military District

In early May, Russian Defense Ministry revealed that missile formations of Russia’s Southern Military District and Navy forces were preparing to hold drills to practice the use of non-strategic nuclear weapons in the near future. Russia’s Southern Military District has begun the first stage of an exercise involving practical training in the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons, the Defence Ministry said. “In accordance with the instructions of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, the first stage of the drills has begun in the Southern Military District under the leadership of the General Staff of the armed forces of the Russian Federation with practical testing of the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons,” the statement said. The drills with the non-strategic nuclear weapons train for receipt of special munitions and equipment of launch vehicles, the ministry added. “As part of this stage, the personnel of the missile formations of the Southern Military District are completing combat training tasks for obtaining special ammunition for the Iskander operational and tactical missile system, equipping them with launch vehicles and covertly advancing to the designated positional area to prepare for missile launches,” the ministry explained, adding that the Russian aviation is training with the equipment of special combat units of aircraft destruction, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.

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