Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba on the occasion of Africa Day to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (African Union)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear African brothers and sisters,
I am glad to address you on the occasion of Africa Day while visiting the African continent for the second time in less than a year. This shows our true commitment to a new era of Ukrainian-African relations. We came to talk as equals and work as partners.
Despite being geographically distant, Ukraine and Africa share deep historical ties. We have always shared and supported the aspirations of African nations towards independence, unity, and progress. As a co-founder of the United Nations, Ukraine has consistently defended and promoted the interests of African nations within the UN.
Over many decades, Ukrainian specialists from various fields helped construct hundreds of infrastructure facilities in dozens of African countries. Processing plants, hydroelectric power stations, ports, bridges, roads, hospitals, and schools.
Ukraine has also been proud to host thousands of African students. Many of them have become prominent political, business, and social leaders in their nations. We will be happy to welcome more young Africans who want to study and work in Ukraine.
In the past, not only students but also brave fighters of African national liberation movements were trained on Ukrainian soil. From 1965 to the 1980s, many of them were trained in Ukraine for the needs of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, the South West Africa People's Organization in Namibia, the Zimbabwe African People's Union, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the Liberation Front of Mozambique, and the African National Congress in South Africa. This is our shared history. We are proud of it and won’t let anyone steal this common past from us.
Mozambican revolutionary and the first president of independent Mozambique, Samora Machel, once said: "International solidarity is not an act of charity: it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective”. These wise words remain fully relevant today.
Ukraine has always been committed to maintaining peace in Africa and has significantly contributed to relevant global efforts. More than 300 Ukrainian blue helmets performed tasks within four UN missions in Africa: in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Abyei Area, and Mali.
Ukrainian sailors have participated in international collective actions to counter maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.
As of February 2022, 80% of Ukrainian peacekeepers abroad were deployed in African countries.
We know the price of peace and the importance of maintaining it.
Today, Ukraine is reinvigorating its foreign policy toward Africa aimed at a Ukrainian-African renaissance.
We have recently adopted our first African strategy and intensified our political dialogue with many countries on the continent. This year, we are going to establish new embassies in different parts of the continent and plan to hold the first Ukraine-Africa Summit. I invite the leaders of your countries to take part in this important event.
We want to develop a new quality of partnership based on three mutual principles: mutual respect, mutual interests, and mutual benefits.
For more than a year, Ukraine has been fighting a defensive war for its freedom and independence against Russian invaders. This is not a border dispute, but a war of aggression. Russia tries to establish control over Ukraine because it does not recognize our right to exist as a sovereign nation and choose our path of peaceful and prosperous development.
Angola’s President João Lourenço gave a precise definition of the current situation based on the similar experience of his country. He said: “If we fought against the interventionists in the past, we understand that everyone else has the same right. And we do not understand how those people, who then helped us fight against the invaders, today annexed four regions of the neighboring state.”
Ukrainians are a nation that fights for justice, against oppression, and against human rights violations. Supporting Ukraine is not about being pro-Western or anti-Western. It is about respecting the UN Charter, international law and order, as well as the right of every nation to choose its own peaceful path of development.
We are hearing calls for peace from various countries and leaders. We support them as such and think they need to be directed first and foremost to Russia as the country that started this war.
No other nation in the world wants peace more than Ukraine. But we know that real peace needs to be just and sustainable. We are open to discussing any peace initiative if it respects two principles: does not suggest territorial concessions and does not lead to a frozen conflict instead of peace.
Ukraine has a clear plan in this regard. It is called President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula. This war is happening on Ukraine’s soil, so we consider it natural that a Ukrainian peace plan should be at the core of the peace effort. We invite African countries to join the implementation of the formula.
Food security is a significant element of the formula, and the one especially important for African nations.
Even during this dark time of war, Ukraine spares no effort to maintain its role as a food security guarantor for Africa and many other regions of the world.
Despite Russia’s naval blockade of our sea ports, we have managed to partially unblock Ukrainian exports with the help of the UN and Turkiye. We have actively defended the initiative from Russian attempts to ruin it ever since. Its latest extension was a sign of relief both for our farmers and our customers abroad, including in Africa.
Within the initiative, an overall of 123 ships with more than 3 million tons of agricultural products have already been sent to the countries in Africa: Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Tunisia, Somalia, and Algeria.
Our efforts are not limited to exports. We are also providing humanitarian aid under President Zelenskyy’s “Grain from Ukraine” program. We have already sent 6 ships with a cargo of 170 thousand tons of wheat to Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen within this program. More ships are being prepared. No family in Africa should suffer because of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Brothers and sisters,
Our united voice should be strong in all international fora and within international organizations. And if they need to be reformed for that, including the UN Security Council, then we need to do so. We call for a more representative and democratic Security Council in which Africa, like all other world regions, will be represented. Ukraine also supports the idea of the African Union becoming a permanent member of the G20.
This is what I mean by mutual respect, mutual interests, and mutual benefits. By working together and supporting each other, we can achieve a lot. By talking to each other as equals and with respect, we can understand each other better.
This is why I am here, in Africa. To talk directly, without intermediaries. To treat each other individually, not as abstract regions or numbers on the voting screen of the General Assembly.
I am confident that in such a respectful manner we will be able to form new kinds of relationships and realize the full potential of a Ukrainian-African Renaissance for the benefit of all of our nations.
Happy Africa Day!