Russia awards SA Ambassador for role in BRICS initiatives, ‘order of friendship’

South Africa’s BRICS Ambassador Anil Sooklal received the Order of Friendship from the Russian Federation.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov presents the Order of Friendship to Ambassador Anil Sooklal. Picture:Supplied

Published Feb 4, 2024

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South Africa’s BRICS Ambassador Professor Anil Sooklal was awarded the Order of Friendship by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in that country last week.

Lavrov, speaking during a meeting of BRICS Sherpas, said he was carrying out an important mission on instructions from the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

“I would like to award the Order of Friendship to Ambassador Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General responsible for Asia and the Middle East at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation of the Republic of South Africa and South Africa’s BRICS Sherpa.

“We know the Ambassador as a principled and skilled diplomat, who firmly and sincerely believes in the need for collective development and prosperity of the entire humankind. He staunchly adheres to the sacred BRICS principles of openness, equality and consensus.”

Lavrov said Sooklal played an important role in many important BRICS initiatives, including the launch of outreach-format meetings between the five and leaders of like-minded nations, and the creation of the New Development Bank and the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre.

“It is no secret that Mr Anil Sooklal is a great friend of all countries represented here. He has visited Russia multiple times, and is familiar with every aspect of our national traditions.

“To a large extent, this is due to the BRICS events held during Russia’s chairmanship years. He is a real veteran, endowed with youthful enthusiasm and energy, which, I am sure, will help promote many BRICS initiatives. We appreciate his disposition and his contribution to strengthening the strategic partnership between South Africa and Russia,” Lavrov said.

Sooklal said the award was a career highlight and recognition for his and South Africa’s role in helping to turn BRICS into such a global power.

“The award was signed by President Putin and handed to me by Minister Lavrov.

“It was a moving moment for me and I am highly appreciative of Russia’s recognition, not only of my role but also of South Africa’s positive role in global initiatives,” said Sooklal.

The Mercury