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Siberia Baikal Irkutsk
At the Center of Everything

19 August 2019

At the beginning of August, in the very center of the Eurasian continent, in Siberia near Lake Baikal in Irkutsk, rASiA Baikal 2019, a marathon of business events was held.

Photo: Ralph Simon, Chief Executive and Alexander Shulgin, Visionary, investor, composer

There were no major international forums and conferences in this place before, the nearest events were held one thousand kilometers to the west and four thousand kilometers to the east in Vladivostok. The initiator of the project, a recognized visionary, international investor and composer Alexander Shulgin understood that he was taking a risk: "I considered this idea as a startup. The first season went by and we created a working model for multifunctional collaboration between local entrepreneurs and innovators, but also cooperation between colleagues from all five continents and from BRICS countries. A successful investor who has invested in more than a hundred companies, including world-famous brands, was right this time. The events were a great success. More than a thousand participants, more than a hundred foreign experts and leaders from 44 countries, more than 50 speakers from 23 countries came to Irkutsk to start a new era in Siberia.


Hungarian Universities Scholarships

19 August 2019

The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme which is available for students from 70 countries worldwide is the Hungarian Government’s contribution to academic excellence said Mr Andras Kiraly, Ambassador of Hungary to South Africa.

He was speaking at reception, held at the Embassy of Hungary in Pretoria, for a group of 52 South African students who were awarded the prestigious scholarship.

Photo: (l-r) Thabile Diphofa, Mr Andras Kiraly, Ambassador of Hungary, Siphesihle Nene, Mabore Thema and Lehlohonolo Diale

The programme is in its third year and is gaining in popularity as students returning to South Africa share their experiences of this country in Central Europe that is steeped in history. “Focus on your studies and ask for assistance, especially the newcomers to our beautiful, diverse and culturally rich country,” encouraged Ambassador Kiraly.


Linking Korea’s Development to Africa

15 August 2019

Korea‘s (ROK) investment on the African continent is just 2% of its global total, said Deputy Speaker of the Korean National Assembly, Mr Lee Ju Young.  He was speaking to The Diplomatic Society while leading a delegation of senior Korean parliamentarians and experienced politicians, to engage in comprehensive discussions with South African business and government, to identify opportunities for trade, tourism and investment to overcome challenges to fast track and increase existing current cooperation and interactions.

Photo: Mr Kirtan Bhana, founding editor of The Diplomatic Society interviewing Mr Lee Ju YoungDeputy Speaker of the Korean National Assembly


Walking in the Footsteps of Giants - ASEAN

8 August 2019

As current Chair of the ASEAN Pretoria Committee, Mr Thai-Keong Chua, High Commissioner of Singapore hosted a luncheon in celebration of the 52nd Anniversary of ASEAN. Gracing the occasion was Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of SA International Relations and Cooperation who said he was "a bit boastful" in sharing with the ASEAN members the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. He, however said that Africa is walking in the footsteps of giants, as ASEAN has been a free trade block since 1992.

Photo: Mr Dzulazhar Musa, Deputy High Commissioner of Malaysia, Mr Salman Al Farisi, Ambassador of Indonesia, Mr Joseph Gerard B. Angeles, Ambassador of Philippines, Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of SA International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Thai-Keong Chua, High Commissioner of Singapore, Mr U Myint Swe, Ambassador of Myanmar, Mr Vu Van Dzung, Ambassador of Vietnam and Mr Komate Kamalanavin, Ambassador of Thailand

Mr Thai-Keong Chua, High Commissioner of Singapore addressing guests said that the members of ASEAN are a diverse group of countries and are richer because of their differences.  “The ASEAN model is based first and foremost on mutual respect and self-respect.  We reject any one race, religion, ideology or state that claims a superior knowledge of human or divine truth or absolute right.  Diversity and differences do not have to be surrendered as precondition for closer political, economic and social integration.”


Connecting Africa from Cairo to Cape Town

29 July 2019

The Embassy of Egypt in Pretoria celebrated the 67th anniversary of the revolution of July 23, 1952. At a celebratory reception, Mr Sherif Issa, Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa, addressing guests said that the dream of the road linking Cairo, Egypt’s capital in the north to Cape Town, Africa’s south most metropolis, was reaching near completion. This among others is a clear indication of a new united, integrated and interdependent Africa.

Photo: Mr Sherif Issa, Ambassador of Egypt and his spouse Ms. Dina Zeidan with young pilots and members of U-Dream’s Cape to Cairo Program.

As current chair of the African Union, Egypt is committed to achieve the objectives as defined by Agenda 2063 and will hand over chairship to South Africa next year to preside over the Union.


First Meeting of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group

09 August 2019

The First Meeting of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka as the current Coordinating Country for Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) in IORA on 8 – 9 August 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group (WGMSS) was established last year at an Initial Workshop held for this purpose on 4 – 5 September 2018, in Sri Lanka.

The Meeting was preceded by a stimulating panel discussion on ‘’Emerging scenarios related to safety and security in the Indian Ocean” that saw the active participation of MSS experts.



by Marla Mossman, UN Correspondent

Theme: Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality

The world’s people are demanding “transformative change that is fair and sustainable,
 ….” to “kickstart a decade of delivery and action for people and planet.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres call to action was the main point in his address to ministers attending the seventh sessions of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The event gathered some 2,000 representatives from UN member states, civil society, and the private sector at 33 UN-level meetings and over 150 side events. The eight-day Forum, saw ministers from 47 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on their SDG progress so far, bringing the total number of countries that have submitted in-depth reviews to 142 over the past four years, since the SDGs were launched in 2015.

During the two weeks from 9 July, to Monday, 15 July 2019, these High Level meetings were the main UN platform monitoring each States’ actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the opening session Guterres observed that the HLPF was “zeroing-in” on the urgent need for more SDG action “to support empowerment, equality and inclusion” to “ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion”.


Argentina and South Africa

29 July 2019

Located below the tropic of Capricorn latitude on the globe Argentina and South Africa are described as nations of the South.  An open society, a free market economy and respect for human rights are also common values among the respective nations says Ambassador Alberto Pedro D'Alotto, Argentina’s recently accredited Ambassador to South Africa in a conversation with The Diplomatic Society.

Photo: Ambassador Alberto Pedro D’Alotto with Ambassador Ntombizodwa Lallie, Deputy Director General of Americas and Europe, Department of International Relations and Cooperation of SA at the National Day celebration of Argentina

D’Alotto brings a dearth of knowledge and 35 years of experience in international relations to South Africa. 


BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting

26 July 2019

The meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations took place on 26 July 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the representation of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.

Photo: Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia, State Councillor Wang Yi of China, Minister Ernesto Araújo of Brazil, Minister Naledi Pandor of South Africa and General VK Singh of India (Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO)

The Ministers exchanged views on key issues on the international agenda. They also reviewed with satisfaction the progress of BRICS cooperation featuring mutual respect and understanding, equality, solidarity, openness, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. The Ministers agreed to further deepen BRICS three-pillar-driven cooperation in the areas of economy, peace and security and people-to-people exchanges.


Sound SA Russia relations as Petrakov bids farewell

25 July 2019

In 2012 Mikhail Ivanovich Petrakov was posted as Ambassador to South Africa and Lesotho. He returns to Moscow having served 7 years in the South of Africa. His illustrious career as a Russian Diplomat began in 1981 in New Delhi, India 38 years ago. He brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to his Ambassadorship having been posted to several key positions in the Russian Foreign Service. Among these include the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and a multilateral diplomatic position with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which was created after the collapse and dissolution of the former USSR, a challenging time of transition which brought about the formation of 11 new sovereign nations.

In post 1994 South Africa, Ambassador Petrakov found a nation which had to reconcile the support for the common communist ideology of the liberation movements and the ‘rooi gevaar’ (communist threat) policy of the apartheid regime while the Russian nation was in the throes of its own transition.  The growing interactions of the BRICS countries have played a significant, consolidating role in relations between the two countries in the advent of multilateralism which has disrupted a system of policies established at the end of the Second World War.


Japan funds bioplastics project

26 July 2019

The Government of Japan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed a funding agreement for a project to support a transition from conventional plastics to sustainable alternatives in South Africa.

Photo: Japan’s Ambassador to South Africa, Norio Maruyama with Khaled El Mekwad, UNIDO Representative

The Government of Japan announced the funding support of US$1.8m for the UNIDO project during the G20 Osaka summit in June when the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, held a summit meeting with the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. The initiative supports the G20’s Blue Ocean Vision which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050.

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July/August 2019









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