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Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:42

Mozambique: Ready to Forge Wider Economic Cooperation

MozamAmbassador_MOSCOW, November 10, 2012 (Buziness Africa) - Dr Bernardo Marcelino Cherinda, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mozambique has characterized Russia as a country of immense opportunities. Driven by curiosity and with high desire to learn more about the country where he has been posted, Dr Cherinda has undertaken few trips around Russia and realized that Russia's stable political system, the dynamics of its economy, the high cultural and educational standards collectively constitute a striking proof of its influential position in the global system.

Dr Cherinda, a distinguished scholar who graduated from the University of London, was in 1990 appointed as the Academic Director of the Maputo's Institute of International Affairs, said post-Soviet Russia's image is something which cannot easily be underestimated. Arrived to his diplomatic post with several years of starked experiences behind him, - Dr Cherinda served, among others, as a member of Election Monitoring Committee appointed by the parliament and also worked as Director for Planning and Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Maputo.


In March, Dr Cherinda cheerfully spoke in an interview with Kester Kenn Klomegah in Moscow about some of his impressions, his diplomatic work and future plans that help uplift relations between Russia and Mozambique.


Interview Excerpts:


The Voice: You have been here for more than a year, but how would you assess the present relations between Mozambique and Russia based on your predecessors' work in the previous years? Can you also mention your country's other prioities?

Cherinda: Traditionally the relations between Mozambique and Russia have been excellent. This, I can vividly say, dated as far back as in the 60s when the then Soviet Union played an active role in our political struggle and cooperated with us in other various fields including the economic, social, military and cultural areas. Before my arrival as an ambassador in Moscow, I have always kept track of all major political events and the significant changes that have taken place in Russia and I know that my predecessor, (H.E.) Mr Gregorio Lang'ande, did really an exemplary diplomatic work and our task now is to continue to build on the marked achievements or successes by promoting Mozambique's relations with Russia in all fields.


It will interest you to know that soon after my arrival here, we were able to contract some medical doctors who are presently working in our country. We are also in the process of renewing some of the previous agreements for the mutual benefits of the two the countries. Mozambique is ever prepared to collaborate with Russia in the fight against international terrorism, corruption and other economic crimes that have engulfed the global society.


The Voice: Although we are talking about the present, it s also important to review the past relations and identify what really went wrong. Do you think there were some setbacks in the diplomatic relations with your country?

Cherinda: As I have already briefly pointed out, the Soviet Union had played important roles by showing solidarity in and much needed support for Mozambique's political struggle and for which we are very grateful. That has not changed in the present time neither would I say that there has been a point of departure in the relations between the two countries. In fact, I would rather emphasize that the changes in Russia has provided a greater impetus for us to forge new diversified relations especially in the spheres of economic, mineral exploration, technology, tourism and fishery as well as in health and educational sectors.


By this measure, we are largely counting on the mutual understanding of both countries in order to achieve tremendous positive results. Besides all, Russia continues to train our specialists in medicine, science and technology as it was during the Soviet era. The government of Mozambique is always unreservedly appreciative of this wonderful gesture. The point is that, we will relentlessly work toward more effective friendship and use political dialogue to remove obstacles that might hinder smooth progress and development.


The Voice: What can you say are specific spheres where Russia is now actively involved in your country's economy? And what is the level of economic cooperation between the two countries now?

Cherinda: Russia has gone far with its liberal market reforms and the private sector has rapidly developed. This trend has to reflect in our policies of both countries. Instead of handling cooperation strictly on state levels, we should also strongly encourage private participation in both countries' economies. It's a fact that Mozambique has Oil and Gas project with Russia and this also involves South Africa republic as well. Russia is showing deep interests in many other areas but these have to be worked out gradually.


Soon the two Chambers of Commerce will be signing new agreements this year which is expected to strengthen economic, trade and investment possibilities. We are taking progressive steps to rope in the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs into our activities. I think that there is the need to arrange regular exchange of visits by businessmen, help facilitate their participation in the private sectors as a radical way of reactivating Russia's influence in Mozambique and obviously improving our country's economy. Furthermore, the embassy has been making conscious attempts to link Russian investors to the country to get involved in our small scale and medium size economic partnership development, joint ventures, agro-processing industries, health, education and construction.


On the otherhand, the government of Mozambique has formulated its policies that have created a condusive economic environment to attract more foreign investors. Additionally, Mozambique offers one of the best places for investment in the southern part of Africa and has a democratic government, political and economic stability. Indeed, the level of partnership is steadily growing and given the economic situation, it's our belief that Mozambique and Russian businesses actively interact and cooperate in the economic arena for the overall benefit of the peoples of both countries. We cannot, in the least, doubt the enormous potentials which exist for these.


The Voice: Mozambique has a lot of diversified tourist destinations. How are these patronized by Russians and do Russians investors also showing interests in helping to develop this sector?

Cherinda: The tourism industry is an essentially necessary sphere these days and we will be studying the market further in order to redesign strategies of increasing the number of tourists to our country. Admittedly, the potential is here, judging from the March 24 – 27 International Travel and Tourism fair held in Moscow. By our participation in that fair, it has offered us the opportunity to learn, at first hand, the current trends and demands of the tourism market. All that is required is to effectively network and deal with potential Russians whose specific sparked interests are in Mozambique.


Interesting enough, visiting tourists to South Africa sometimes end up on the beaches and inland lakes of Mozambique which are, of course, comparatively good holiday destinations. From all indications, Russians have shown great interests in our vacation spots, beautiful islands, exotic wildlife, forest reserves, - especially Gorongoza, - and other innumerable historical and cultural spots. We see good prospects for raising Russia-Mozambique tourism business as a major economic area and this will enable Russians open the gateway, travel there and learn more about interesting social culture which we have and to get involved in recreational activities. It's one important factor that will play a role in enhancing mutual understanding of our bilateral relations.


The Voice: Which other strategies or steps your embassy is taking to further raise Mozambique's profile/image among Russians and in Russia?

Cherinda: Considering the vastness of Russia, we still have a lot a to do. Frankly speaking, we have to adopt new radical approach in promoting the attractiveness of Mozambique especially through cultural means, explore all possibilities that are available here to expose and strengthen cooperation in these fields. In the previous years, some consistent efforts had been made in this direction in providing Russians - our hosts – with more substantive information about our social life and traditions so that Russian people get to know better about our cultures.


In future, we intend to promote debates on Mozambique at the Institute for African Studies in Moscow. We have invited academic researchers from the Moscow State Institute of International Affairs to Maputo for two weeks, and Russian enterprises and selected institutions will be participating in the forthcoming International Trade & Investment Fair scheduled for September in Maputo.


And I think it's equally important that we focus seriously on cultural aspects in our foreign activities in order to bridge the widening information gap between the two countries. I am not biased about these; for me, Russia has made the mark and it's respected for their indelible historical achievements, literature and for the human values. These are worth emulating by Mozambique and this makes the job more challenging but at the same time exciting and requires much of new image-making initiatives. Step by step, we will also get through with our comprehensive plans for the next few years ahead of us. (First published in The Voice magazine in The Netherlands)



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