On the sidelines of the first Sudanese Arts and Culture Exhibition and Forum currently taking place in Moscow, the SMC held an interview with Sudanese ambassador to Moscow Nadir Yousif. During the interview he spoke of the level of cooperation between the two countries and ways to improve them, as well as the US blockade and sanctions and international justice.
What is the current level of cooperation between Sudan and Russia, especially with the fact that both countries are suffering blockade and international sanctions?
There is currently coordination between Sudan and Russia at the international arena and the United Nations Security Council. There is also a similarity on a number of issues. For example the issue of sanctions and the international criminal court. There is a continuous coordination among diplomatic delegations in New York.
Sudan enjoys Russian support. As you know Russia is a great country and a permanent member at the UNSC and stands very bravely and transparently against the ICC. This is cooperation based on principles, and because it is against blockade and sanctions. We hope that the Russian support will lead towards establishing a more just international system. And we are always looking for justice and believe that it should be void of the double standards or any special treatment. I think Russia can play that role, because it’s a great country and a member of the UNSC.
What does it mean for Sudan when Russia blocked the inclusion of a paragraph from a UN report that urges banning gold produced from Sudan?
As I mentioned Russia acts from a fundamental principle and we are happy for the Russian voice inside the UNSC because it represents a chance at international justice. We as a country are victim to unjust for over 10 years. Repeated and unfair sanctions and blockade in a manner that is very provoking. In the recent period Russian is starting to understand what’s been happening to Sudan and against Sudan. And how there is an absence of justice. Russia is also understanding the importance that all the agreements from the UNSC are in tandem with international law and justice.
In your opinion, what are the motives behind the US move to ban gold exports?
The issue of blockade against Sudan’s gold which some powers had tried to pass. Aims at crippling the Sudanese economy. It is known that for Sudan , gold is one of the main economic sources of revenue for Sudan, and the reason behind this was to strangle the Sudanese economy. We thank Russia for its position and rejection of the injustice.
What is your evaluation of current economic cooperation between Sudan and Russia?
I believe that economic relations between Sudan and Russia are below expectations as you said. Political relations are very good, but we find that ever since the establishment of the joint political committee, there is very good activity. There was no information on the economic situation and the investment opportunities in Sudan. Geographical distance between the two countries and the unavailability of direct flights, as well as poor communication between Russian and Sudanese businessmen all led to poor information. We now see a good turnout by Russian businessmen. In the area of gold [mining] there are more than three Russian companies working in Sudan and in the area of [natural] gas there are two. Yesterday the ministry of electricity signed a memo with a Russian company to establish a power plant at a cost of one billion US dollars.
There are a number of projects that will soon see the light of day, and there are some challenges we are trying to overcome. Among the projects is activities and workshops that introduce to the Russians Sudan’s economy, trade and policy.
Against the deteriorating relations with the US, Will Sudan replace Washington and put Russia as its ally?
Sudan does not replace its relationships, it wants to keep evolving relations with everyone, and does not have a feud with anyone, but there are forces against us. Sudan has the desire to establish balanced relations, Russia takes on initial positions as I mentioned earlier, and what we like in Russia it does not have an agenda but it is working for the interests of everyone and cooperate with openness, and I confirm here that we are keen to have good relations with all the world, east and west.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized meeting between the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan to normalize relations between them, What is the fate of this initiative?
This is an important point. And we thank Russia for this pioneering initiative to support Sudan. And we believe that it is the interest of Russia to achieve peace and stability. Without them it’s difficult to achieve development. Russia is accepted by both countries It made this request through its ministry of foreign affairs.
To what extent can it be said that Russia is currently involved in matters pertaining to Sudan’s regional neighborhood, specifically issues with South Sudan?
Regarding our neighbors in the region, South Sudan is a neighbor and sisterly state, and Russia sees that it has the ability and approval from both sides. As I mentioned, this initiative comes from the Russian foreign ministry and we expect that it will be resumed at any moment, as it is not a replacement for [other] proposed initiatives aiming at realizing peace and stability between Sudan South Sudan. It is rather a prop for existing initiatives. Russia has accordingly expressed a willingness to host any initiative, at anytime to support any cooperation or talks between Sudan and South Sudan and we are in continuous contact with the Russian foreign ministry to advise them of any developments as they occur.