Dear Mr. Chairperson of the African Union,
Dear Mr. Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and gentlemen !
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you. To speak to you in extraordinary circumstances when Africa is in fact held hostage. Hostage to those who started the war against our state. Yes, this is war. Russia’s war against Ukraine. It is not a crisis, nor a conflict, as it is sometimes defined even today. This is a brutal and aggressive war – Russian troops have come to our land and want to subjugate our people.
This war may seem very far away for you and your countries. But the catastrophic rise in food prices has already brought it back to millions of African families. As well as many families in Asia, Europe, Latin America.
Without the Russian war, the people of Africa would not have suffered a catastrophic rise in food prices
The unjust level of food prices caused by the Russian war is painfully felt on all continents. Unfortunately, this may be a particular problem for your countries. We have to take into account various factors: population growth on the African continent, the ongoing economic recovery after the pandemic, the lack of national financial resources in many countries to buy food at much higher prices…
Given the physical scarcity in the global market, some African countries face particular challenges in maintaining needed food supplies. But why and when did this problem arise? I point out that such a problem simply did not exist on February 23 of this year. Yes, unusual inflationary processes have already taken place in different parts of the world. Many countries have already allocated huge sums of money to support the economy in the crisis caused by Covid-19.
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However, nothing looked like a food shortage. The crisis began on February 24, when the Russian fleet blocked Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The sea route is the main one for our agricultural exports. And Ukrainian agricultural exports are one of the foundations of the stability of the world food market. Ukraine is one of the main suppliers of wheat, sunflower oil and corn. According to expert estimates, the lives of around 400 million people in different countries depend on our food exports.
And without the Russian war against Ukraine, there would simply be no shortage in the food market. Without the war against Russia, our farmers and agricultural enterprises could have achieved record harvests this year. Without the Russian war, the peoples of Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the world would not have suffered a catastrophic increase in food prices. There would simply not be such a catastrophic rise in prices.
Ukrainian president @ZelenskyyUa addressed the @_AfricanUnion Assembly today. We reiterated the AU position of the urgent need for dialogue to end the conflict to allow peace to return to the Region and to restore global stability. pic.twitter.com/1RaIIp2UbC
— Moussa Faki Mahamat (@AUC_MoussaFaki) June 20, 2022
Ladies and gentlemen !
This situation shows how connected everything is in the world. A war in Europe, namely Russia’s attempt to take over our lands and turn Ukraine into a Russian colony, has led to deteriorating access to food and a growing threat of famine.
Of course, we defend ourselves and will defend our independence until we win this war. And, of course, we are already trying to build new supply logistics. Currently, we have more than 25 million tons of grain in silos, which is expected by traditional consumers of Ukrainian products. We are establishing exports by rail and via ports in neighboring countries – so that last year’s harvest and this year’s harvest can reach consumers.
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But on new routes it is possible to export a much smaller volume and for much longer. This results in a much more expensive supply. We are conducting complex multi-level negotiations to unblock our ports. But you see, there is no progress yet. Because no real tool has yet been found to ensure that Russia does not attack them again. This is why the food crisis in the world will continue as long as this colonial war of Russia against our state continues and our ports are blocked.
Ukraine was also one of the main European fertilizer producers. And now the production is actually stopped because of the war. Some manufacturers do not have the raw materials and the ability to work – due to the threat of Russian missile strikes and other consequences of hostilities. Some Ukrainian companies are already in combat zones and simply destroyed by Russian troops. Have you heard about it from your Russian partners with whom you stay in contact? Did they tell you about it? I’m sure they tell you completely different things.
The stability of your countries depends on the stability in Ukraine and in our region
But, in fact, they need this crisis. They deliberately make it worse. Because they are trying to use you and the suffering of your peoples to pressure the democratic countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. I emphasize that the sanctions policy is only intended to prevent Russia from trying to enslave Ukraine.
Ladies and gentlemen !
We all see that the current global security architecture and international organizations are not yet able to influence the aggressor state to end this war and restore international security. Did the UN Security Council work? No. Moreover, your voice in the UN Security Council – the voice of Africa – has not been fully heard.
But today’s globalized world is impossible to imagine without Africa, just as it is impossible to imagine Africa without our globalized world. And it is right for the African Union to be active on principle, defending the interests of all the inhabitants of your continent. However, your voice must be strong enough in all international structures. And if they are to be reformed for this, including the UN Security Council, then it must be done.
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That is why, for example, on April 5, in my address to the UN Security Council, I proposed to convene a world conference on reform and transformation of the UN in Kyiv, of course, after this Russian war and our victory. I also launched a new policy of Ukraine towards Africa. It was during my tenure that the first Strategy for the Development of Relations of Ukraine with African States was approved. The dialogue with all the countries of the continent will be intensified. The Special Representative of Ukraine for Africa will also take up his post in the near future.
I want us to understand each other perfectly and to interact without intermediaries – for our common interests. And the fact that there are such interests is quite evident after February 24th. Because the stability of your countries depends on the stability in Ukraine and in our region.
We must free our people from the threats artificially created by any state that wants to subjugate us
Following my instructions, the first regional tour of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to the states of sub-Saharan Africa is being prepared. Of course, we must also develop interparliamentary dialogue. To this end, I initiate visits to African countries by representatives of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine [le Parlement]. And I invite you to visit our country now to renew our bilateral ties. And I propose to start preparing – according to our common will – a major political and economic conference “Ukraine – Africa”.
In many countries of the African Union, Ukraine is well known economically and in the educational field. Our ties are, in fact, very old. Our specialists have been building businesses in your countries since Soviet times. Your students have studied at our universities.
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We have always contributed to maintaining peace on the African continent. Until February 24, more than 300 Ukrainian peacekeepers carried out tasks in six UN missions. And our national contingent, including the 18th Helicopter Detachment, was an important part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And it is on the basis of these relations which have existed for many years that we must build a new political history. We can do it. We must free our people from the threats artificially created for us by any state that simply wants to subjugate us, use our resources, our land.
Our number one task now is to finally rid ourselves of the threat of hunger. In the 21st century, such a threat simply cannot exist – thanks to Ukraine, thanks to our agricultural sector. We cover any shortfalls, we produce so that there is enough food for each of your countries – all the consumers we work with. If it hadn’t been for the war with Russia, you would now be in a different position – completely safe. Therefore, in order to avoid starvation, the efforts of states like Russia to return to the aggressive policy of colonialism must cease.
The time of empires is over. People have the right to live – and to have everything for life.
Thanks ! Glory to Ukraine!