10:04 GMT26 February 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Togo supports a UN Security Council reform to address Africa’s underrepresentation in the body that has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and believes that Russia could help correct this "historic injustice," Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey told Sputnik in an interview.

    "Twelve years after the start of negotiations the international community can no longer ignore current geopolitical reality and in particular the necessity to correct the historic injustice of Africa not represented among the permanent UNSC members and the fact that it is underrepresented among the non-permanent members. The involvement of the five permanent UNSC members is paramount for this reform project to succeed and Russia could help us with it," Dussey, who is currently on a visit to Russia, said.

    The minister stressed that the debate around Africa’s representation has been ongoing for decades, but "nothing changes."

    He therefore expressed doubt that "some of UNSC members are sincere when they say they want to see African states occupy permanent seats in the UNSC."

    Russia has long advocated for expanding representation of developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America in the UN Security Council, noting that this reform was long-overdue. Moscow at the same time calls for balance, so that the body does not become too bloated and sluggish.

    Togo Wants Russia to Assist Agricultural Sector Reform, Economy Digitalization 

    Togo wants Russia to contribute to the agricultural sector reform and digitalization of the national economy, Dussey said.

    "The [2019 Russia-Africa] summit in Sochi gave an opportunity for the African states and Russia to strengthen their political and economic ties and to establish strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships. Our ambition today is to extend this cooperation to such sectors as seaport cooperation, fishing, agriculture, mining and energy, medicine, education and university research, not to forget the digitalization of Togolese administration," Dussey said.

    The foreign minister noted that Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe and Russian President Vladimir Putin laid a new basis for the "excellent" bilateral cooperation at their meeting in Sochi.

    "We have dynamic cooperation: we have eight signed cooperation agreements. There wasn’t much follow-up, but since 2019 we are reinforcing it. That’s why [Russian Foreign] Minister Sergey Lavrov invited me to Saint Petersburg … This is a sign of a new dynamic given to of our cooperation," Dussey continued, assuring that he will discuss means to boost the volume of bilateral trade at the upcoming talks.

    The diplomat praised dynamic cooperation in the educational sphere, recalling that over 800 Togolese officials were educated in Russia and over 100 Togolese students are currently living there.

    According to Dussey, Togo's national development plan is based on three key pillars: transformation of the agricultural sector; making the national capital of Lome an attractive city serving as a door to West Africa; and digitization of the economy.

    "Our agricultural sector is unfortunately is not transformed yet … and transformation of agricultural sector is indispensable for jobs creation. The second very important vector is this. Togo is the only country in West Africa that has a natural deep-water port in the whole Gulf of Guinea. So we want to make Lome, the capital of Togo, an attractive city, which would serve as a gateway to West Africa. We want this port to serve the other landlocked countries, such as Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso. We have a new airport in Lome and the only air company that has pan-African vocation. So as a port and as an airport Lome is a city that serves other cities. We want to make Lome a hub for all the West African states… And for all that we need social cohesion, to attract benefits and gather the fruits of this transformation. In order to succeed in it, we also need to modernize the administration … which is linked to digitalization," Dussey went on to say, stressing that Russia — which has already succeeded in both agriculture and digitization — " could be a real help. "

    The Togolese official specified that he would like to see Russia's investment in his country's food processing industry.

    "Russia has rather advanced technologies in the agricultural sector … Transformation means that we need to put in place small industries, small processing plants. We produce coffee and we want it to be processed on the ground too. This is our plan and we think that Russia has the necessary expertise to either to contribute or to investment. We will make a call for Russian businessmen who would like to invest in food processing industry in Togo," Dussey said.

    Dussey added that Togo wants to ink deal with Russian chamber of commerce and also "organize a Russian economic day in Togo or [a day] on the Togo economic zone here in Russia."

    Togo Wants to Purchase Russian Military Equipment

    Togo would like to purchase Russia's military equipment and also wants the country to contribute to improving security in the port of Lome, Dussey said.

    "Russia is an established investor and we believe that Russia could help us in regard with the development of the port – especially in such a sensitive issue as security of our port. This is very important, as we know that the whole Gulf of Guinea is known for piracy. And the expertise in terms of security is useful for us in order to secure not only the port, but the whole Gulf of Guinea," Dussey said.

    The foreign minister added that Togo is ready to consider purchasing Russian military equipment.

    "We are open to any discussion – be it in terms of training or equipping, indispensable equipment to ensure our internal and external security," Dussey noted.

    "We are open to see in terms of price-quality of the equipment that could be of interest to the Togolese army. We are open to this business with all the countries including Russia," the minister specified.

    Togo Hopes for Russia’s Help in Sahel Region Stabilization

    Togo believes Russia could help improve security in the Sahel region, Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said.

    "We count on Russia – first because Russia is the UNSC [UN Security Council] member. Russia has always stood by the side of the African states, and we believe that Russia has a word to say in the framework of insecurity in the Sahel," Dussey said.

    The foreign minister specified that Russia could provide technical and logistical support.

    "Russia is a strategic partner that could play an important role in the fight against this terror threat bringing its support to the strategy implemented by the G5 Sahel," Dussey said.

    The humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region has raised concerns of the neighboring countries, as the number of people displaced by ongoing violence has increased drastically, to two million, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Reducing the threat posed by armed groups closely linked to the Daesh and al-Qaeda* is one of the main topics on the Russian agenda in Africa, alongside the expansion of trade and economic ties.

    *Daesh and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups banned in Russia

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