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'Ramaphosa showed unique diplomatic mastery' — Putin praises Cyril's negotiation skills at Brics summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a press conference during the 15th BRICS Summit, via video link in Moscow, Russia, August 24, 2023.
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a press conference during the 15th BRICS Summit, via video link in Moscow, Russia, August 24, 2023.
Image: Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin/Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa for displaying “unique diplomatic mastery” during difficult negotiations at the Brics summit.

Ramaphosa, who chaired the 15th Brics summit in Johannesburg, played a key role in many of the discussions that took place, including talks on the addition of new member states.

This was after at least 20 countries expressed interest in joining the group of five member countries — Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

The Brics countries also discussed technicalities around moving away from the dollar as the main trading currency, with the aim of introducing either a multiple currency trade or a Brics currency.

Though it appears there was no decision on de-dollarisation, member states agreed on six countries joining the Brics family.

Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will become permanent members of Brics from January next year.

Putin used his closing remarks to praise Ramaphosa for using his negotiations skills to steer the talks.

He participated in the summit virtually as he could not attend in person due to the international warrant of arrest issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

“I would like to thank our South African friends for the efforts they have made during our joint work,” said Putin.

“I would like to note, as it turned out this was challenging work and President Ramaphosa showed unique diplomatic mastery as we negotiated all the positions including when it comes to Brics expansion.”

Ramaphosa is known for being a skilled negotiator going back to his days as the secretary-general of the National Union of Mines (NUM).

He also played a key role in the difficult Codesa talks as well as the drafting of the South African constitution in the early 90s.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also hailed the manner in which Ramaphosa handled the talks.

“The last time I participated in a Brics meeting was in 2010 and I am deeply impressed with the maturity of Brics and the results we managed to reach,” said Lula.

He said there had been those who were sceptical about the diversity of the Brics countries being a hindrance during talks, especially when South Africa joined in 2011, but said “the experience demonstrates the contrary”.

“Brics offers us a source for creative solutions for the challenges we face. The relevance of Brics is confirmed by the growing interest of other countries to join our group.”

Lula also hinted it was likely more countries would be invited to join the Brics bloc in the future.

He said leaders had agreed on criteria that would be used for consideration to admit new countries.

“Now the GDP of Brics is going up to 37% of the GDP in terms of its purchasing power and 46% in terms of the world population,” said Lula.

“Brics will continue [to be] open to new members and for that we also approved criteria procedures for future members. We also approved the creation of a working group so we can study the adoption of unitary currency as reference for the Brics. This measure could increase our options for means of payments and reduce our vulnerabilities.”


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