The government of Botswana will not present any explanation to the Republic of Russia regarding a recent tele-meeting between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

This was revealed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Lemogang Kwape. He said President Masisi has not said anything unusual as he has indicated that Botswana stands with the people of Ukraine.

According to Dr. Kwape, there is no need for the government of Botswana to approach the Russian Embassy in Botswana to try and explain or put into context what the President of Ukraine associated with the words uttered by President Masisi in their meeting.

He said discussions by Botswana with other countries, Russia included, are always continuing.

“Let us not dwell too much onto the use of words which the author or anyone for that matter has not raised concern about but only MP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang is worried about,” Dr. Kwape said when responding to concerns raised by MPs on the words the President of Ukraine claimed were uttered by President Masisi.

Zelensky stated on his official Tweeter Account, “had the first conversation in the history of bilateral relations with President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, thanked him for condemning Russia’s actions.”

MPs expressed concern that the words attributed to Masisi are worrisome and might annoy Russia and compromise bilateral relations. The MP for Gaborone Central Mangwegape Healy had asked the minister to give a brief overview of the discussion between the two presidents and in particular: why the statements from the two Presidents following their interaction appear to be different; and for the

Minister, to state Botswana’s foreign policy on armed conflicts and what processes the country follows in terms of interventions or engagements with affected states.

Dr. Kwape stated that the tele-meeting between the two Heads of State took place on 8th August 2022, at the request of President Zelensky. He said it was coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, subsequent to the Working Visit to Botswana by the Ambassador of Ukraine, Liubov Abravitova on the 27th of July 2022.

He pointed out that during the said Working Visit, Botswana and Ukraine deliberated on issues of mutual interest including, the strengthening of bilateral relations particularly through the conclusion of outstanding MoUs such as in political consultation, as well as, cooperation in the agriculture sector.

The tele-meeting between the two Presidents, he said, provided an opportunity for further discussion on issues of mutual interest between Botswana and Ukraine including, exploring ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation.

“Among others, the two statements issued by the Presidents reiterated appreciation of the cordial relations that exist between Botswana and Ukraine. For his part, the President’s statement, further underscored solidarity with the people of Ukraine, while reiterating the need for the cessation of hostilities to enable a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

“The President also emphasised the need for the resumption of grain exports, to ensure food security, particularly on the African continent. These are issues upon which both Presidents agreed during their deliberations,” Minister Kwape said.

He told the MPs that Botswana’s foreign policy regarding armed conflicts is guided by the principles of good neighbourliness, peaceful co-existence, and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

As a respected member of the international community, Botswana attaches great importance to peace and security including human security as embodied in the United Nations (UN) instruments and decisions including the UN Charter and other international peace and security undertakings.

In line with the UN Charter and her own strong belief in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means; Botswana will continue to contribute to international peace and security by advocating for the peaceful resolution of conflicts, collaborative dialogue, and diplomacy through regional and international mechanisms, added Dr. Kwape.

The minister said as guided by the UN Charter, Botswana stands ready to assist in peacekeeping efforts. According to Dr. Kwape as a country, Botswana has previously contributed to peace operations in the region, and currently “we are supporting the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM).”

He revealed that the drafting of the Botswana Foreign Policy document has been completed. The draft policy, he said is currently undergoing due diligence and validation.

He said there were two resolutions at the UN, one at Security Council and the other at the General Assembly.

“We were cosponsors of those resolutions. Those resolutions were talking exactly to what I was talking about, peaceful resolution of conflict where it exists. A resolution was put forward, co-sponsored by Botswana at the Security Council, and vetoed as Russia has the right to veto the resolution, but was passed in the General Assembly by 144 members. Now at a multilateral level, the position of Botswana is very clear”, Dr. Kwape.