By The New Times
The integration of regions and communities does not happen just because of slogans, but by doing the right thing, President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame was speaking at the annual diplomatic corps luncheon which he hosted on Wednesday, January 29, at the Kigali Convention Centre.
The annual luncheon attracts all accredited diplomats representing countries and international organisations to Rwanda and senior government officials, among others, and it takes place at the beginning of the year.
“We can have as many lectures for as long as you want about integration, but integration of regions and communities does not happen just because you are making a slogan about it. No, it happens because you are doing the right thing which actually needs to be done in order for that to be realised,” Kagame said while referring to neighbouring Uganda.
“Treat your neighbour as you want to be treated. Not just hunt people from the neighbouring country so badly, and then go back and say these border issues are rubbish and nonsense. No, what is nonsense is what you do to your neighbour that actually creates that barrier,” Kagame added.
As opposed to focusing on the travel advisory which has been referred to as ‘border closure’, Kagame said much focus ought to be on the issues that led to the current status quo as well as ways to address them.
While regional integration is important, the Head of State said that it has to be backed by good-neighbourly relations and cooperation.
“But there is much more to be done and we should be prepared to do our part, and I think the Luanda process will continue to be an important framework to address these issues, facilitated by the President of Angola and assisted by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s President,” he said.
He expressed the country’s willingness to continue cooperation with other nations, including complying with the Luanda Agreement which seeks to restore normalcy to ties between the Rwanda and Uganda.
Kagame said a meeting is scheduled in coming days in Luanda to review progress in the implementation of the agreement and review reasons for lack thereof.
“Recently the progress is that some of the people who have been held for months or years were released, nine of them,” the President said.
However, the President said that despite the progress, it was still too early to lift the travel advisory issued against Uganda (as has been requested by Uganda) as Rwanda cannot yet guarantee her citizens of their safety while in the neighbouring country.
Speaking on Rwanda’s development plans for the upcoming year, the President said that this year, Rwanda will continue pursuing her development ambitions including those enshrined in Vision 2050.
Vision 2050 is Rwanda’s long term development strategy that will carry on from Vision 2020.
Among the broad goals of the development plan include achieving an upper-middle income status of $4,000 annual per capita income by 2035 and a high-income status ($12,000 annual per capita income) by 2050.
In the build-up to the year 2020 whereby Rwanda was implementing the Vision 2020, a 20 year development blueprint set in 2000, Kagame said that there has been valuable lessons.
“Along the way, we have gained valuable capabilities and learned many things through experience for our ambitions to transform Rwanda to a high-income country by 2050,” the President said.
Kagame also called for increased international cooperation in the face of issues and challenges such as climate change, security and economic uncertainty among others.
“There continues to be political shifts in parts of the world where Rwanda and Africa are no longer immune nor indifferent. At the same time, we must sustain international collaboration on issues that affect us all,” he said.
Referring to the recent announcement of exemption of visa fees for citizens of Commonwealth, African Union and La Francophonie member countries, the President added that it will also be extended to a number of nations that are not members of the three organizations.
He said that the soon to be effected waiver on visa fees will also benefit citizens of select nations outside the three bodies as Rwanda seeks to ease access to the country.
“We intend to make it easier to visit Rwanda by exempting citizens of the African Union, Commonwealth and Francophonie. We are going to do it with some other countries that are not members of the three organizations. We have taken care of that…we want all people to visit us,” Kagame said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Vincent Biruta, said that 2019 had been a good year in international relations with Rwanda featuring in significant cooperation avenues such as G7, G20 and Tokyo International Conference of Africa’s Development among others.
Biruta noted that Rwanda was still active in spearheading institution reforms for the African Union which has so far seen a reduction in the body’s budget by 20 per cent and increased contributions as well as mobilized Peace Fund which so far has raised about $140M.
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Rwanda, Guy Nestor Itoua, said that the country has been a good partner on the international scene and has been active in global aspects such as Continental Free Trade Area, Ebola response, and climate change, among others.
Itoua, who is the envoy of Republic of Congo to Rwanda also noted that Rwanda is a model for other countries in aspects such as gender equality efforts as well as youth empowerment.
Source: By The New Times