Mali’s Foreign Affairs minister, Abdoulaye Diop points out that the visit by his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, stems from a mutual desire to deepen diplomatic relations.Diop, who received his Russian counterpart on Tuesday morning, stressed the “historic character” of this 48-hour visit, the first time that the head of the Russian diplomatic corps is on Malian soil.
According to Diop, Lavrov’s visit “is part of the new dynamic, initiated by the government, consisting of expanding and diversifying Mali’s partnerships for an effective response, and in sincerity, to the challenges we face.”
He said his country’s decision to strengthen cooperation with Russia is to demonstrate that it is free to decide with whom to work on the basis of the essential pillars defined by the head of the transition, namely respect for Mali’s sovereignty, respect for strategic choices and the choice of her partners, but also taking into account the West African nation’s interests in all decisions.
Thus, the Malian Minister of Foreign Affairs insisted that “Russia is here at Mali’s request..and it is responding effectively to Mali’s needs in terms of strengthening the capacities of its defence and security forces in the fight against terrorism”.
What is important, Diop added, is to see “how to work together to fight against jihadism,” recalling that “in some cases, terrorism is manufactured to destabilise our countries.”
In this sense, he deplored the instrumentalisation and politicisation of human rights for hidden or barely hidden political agendas often aiming “to overthrow the regime in order to achieve a certain number of objectives.”
The day before Sergei Lavrov’s visit, Mali expelled the director of the human rights division of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for having chosen Aminata Dicko to speak on behalf of Malian civil society during the recent review of the UN Secretary General’s report on Mali.
In her intervention by video conference, she denounced violations thought to have been committed against Fulani civilians by the army and its Russian auxiliaries.
In his speech, the Malian Foreign Minister also welcomed the ‘interest’ that Russia has shown in ‘regularly supplying Mali with basic necessities in a particularly difficult context.’
“You have taken important decisions to allow Mali to access large quantities of fertiliser, wheat and also hydrocarbons,” said Diop.
“We intend to work in general to strengthen economic and trade cooperation” he said.
Finally, Abdoulaye Diop expressed his solidarity with Russia, which is undergoing sanctions from Western countries in response to the war with Ukraine.
“Sanctions do not fundamentally solve the problems. You have to sit down and have a dialogue. We need to identify the causes of the problems and provide solutions, but also avoid selectivity in dealing with international issues,” he said.