Russian President Vladimir Putin has held face-to-face talks with Umaro Sissoco Embalo, President of Guinea-Bissau and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) focusing on developing economic and trade relations as well as assisting in maintaining peace and security in Guinea-Bissau.
During the meeting, Putin noted that 400 million people live in ECOWAS states, and their joint GDP stands at $550 billion, adding that their trade volume with Russia is “rather hefty.”
“And, most importantly, the trade volume growth rate is very good. We hope that a significant contribution will be made to the development of relations both with your country and members of the organization, and the entire African continent in general during your presidency in ECOWAS,” Russian President underscored.
With approximately 1.8 million population, Guinea-Bissau faces challenges of ensuring security and more than two-thirds lives below the poverty line. Guinea-Bissau, like many African states, has had political problems. With this mind, Umaro Embalo therefore emphasized Russia’s mutual contribution in promoting security not only in Guinea-Bissau but also throughout West Africa.
Umaru Embalo said: “Guinea-Bissau is historically an unshakable partner of Russia and the Soviet Union. I would also like to say that we are partners and would like to discuss security issues in West Africa. We would like to discuss with each other the most important things among which is the role that you play in the world.”
Putin hopes to develop and boost trade relations with West Africa which 400 million people as next natural step in the relations. Putin and Embalo discussed Russia’s interaction with ECOWAS, including preparations for the 2nd Russia-Africa summit, due in St. Petersburg next July 2023.
In September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with the leader of Guinea-Bissau on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly where they discussed bilateral interaction and prospects for fostering it. Lavrov and Embalo expressed their support for enhancing bilateral political dialogue and expanding economic ties.
Embalo has held the presidential post in Guinea-Bissau since January 2020, while he was the country’s prime minister from November 2016 through January 2018. The politician was educated in Portugal, Spain and other countries and specializes in international relations (Africa and the Middle East). He underwent further training in defense and security, and, according to some reports, he used to be advisor to Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Long before that when Foreign Minister Lavrov held a meeting with his counterpart from Guinea-Bissau Suzi Carla Barbosa in Moscow, both also acknowledged strengthening political dialogue and in most diverse areas of economic cooperation. This includes businessmen undertaking trips from Guinea-Bissau to Russia and from Russia to Guinea-Bissau.
The areas of interest mentioned in this respect included exploration of natural resources, construction of infrastructure facilities, as well as development of agriculture and fisheries.
Sharing borders with Guinea (to southeast), Gambia and Senegal (to the north), Guinea-Bissau attained its independence in September 1973. Guinea-Bissau follows a non-aligned foreign policy and seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and organizations. Besides, the Eсonomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.