TRANSCRIPT OF REMARKS BY H.E. PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME AT THE SWEARING IN CEREMONY OF MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATIONS – EUGENE GASANA KIGALI, 23 November 2012

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I would like to greet and thank you before I proceed with today’s task of officially confirming Ambassador Gasana to his new position. I wish him success in his duties, building on the good work he has been doing for this country.

If you remember well, we have been longtime members of the United Nations together with more than 190 other nations. We are now going to be members of the UN Security Council for the second time in 20 years. In 1994, we were members of the UN Security Council. In these two scenarios, we see a lot that illustrates injustice and also justice. We see justice that has no limits whatsoever, where people abuse powers accorded them. In 1994, if you remember the Government then was committing genocide, Rwanda was a sitting member of the Security Council and Rwandan representatives used that position to block any intervention to save lives of people – and this was accepted as justice.

Today, 18 years later, we are living in a new Rwanda. We have a new Rwanda, a country which is different from what it used to be when it was last represented in the United National Security Council, when it was killing its own people. This is a new Rwanda. Our officials should therefore represent us with that new spirit; anchored in our history. Our history should always guide us towards what we want to be, it should guide us in all we do. It should guide us in knowing what we don’t want to be or don’t want to do. So Rwanda’s seat at UN Security Council is an opportunity to show that the new Rwanda, the country we are building, is different from what it was when last represented 18 years ago.

Currently, we are going through hard times, but I’m sure we will emerge victorious. We all know there are people who don’t want Rwanda to change from what it was 18 years ago. But that contrast exists and it should be obvious to everyone that the current Rwanda is different from what it was back then, and this is a fact. No one can say the two situations are similar. For whoever wants to make Rwanda the villain, we are not the villain of this region, we are not; we won’t be, we can’t be, we can’t be made to be by anybody. I repeat it, with what is going on around us, Rwanda is not playing any negative role in any way in this region, and you cannot turn this into a fact because it is not. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat lies about us, it won’t make it a fact and we won’t accept it. We are not causing problems for our neighbors; it’s not true at all.

We are not responsible for the problems in this region. It’s not true. I want to challenge you to go and check the list of those they call experts who compile their reports and those who commission them to go and bring them the information they want. Some of them are people who openly deny our history and that of this region. These are the people who have been chosen to write reports about us. This is not a report based on facts and evidence. Instead, those commissioning the report determine the kind of information they want before asking the so called experts to go and get information that confirms what they perceive. This is how it is.

Now, this is what it means: every day we learn lessons that teach that the truth is no longer important in the world we live in today. Its rather about how people perceive things and the way they want to see things. Perception comes before the truth.

The facts, the evidence don’t matter. It’s the perception. Well, the perception matters because you can create your perception, very easily. It’s up to you to determine how you want to see things. But many times, or sometimes, you can’t decide the facts; you can’t create them where they are not. We want to be people who can deal with both. With facts and evidence and perception at the same time, they all matter, that’s fine. But I don’t want to make one more important than the other. At least not to pursue one and leave the other, I have to deal with both. We will deal with both.

I will not back away from telling the truth, even if the people I am telling decide not to listen. Telling them what is true is my responsibility so long as I know I am telling the truth. I cannot turn around the truth because people want to understand things in their own way. It’s your right to understand my truth the way you want to understand it but it’s my responsibility to tell the truth..

In Kinyarwanda there is a saying “kugaruzwa umuheto” – to be used as a servant by someone because they have more than you have. In this new Rwanda it can’t be, it’s not possible. If I live in your house and I am fed by you and because of this you want me to accept to be someone else, I would rather die of hunger. The new Rwandans should not accept this, our predecessors may have done it but that’s up to them.

Saying “if you want this, do this”, even when it’s wrong, , for their interests in exchange for their help. I can’t and I am not this kind of person. All of you should do the same. Flexibility exists but there should be limits. Flexibility does not mean we should be led around like cows, we are not cows, we own cows. Those of you who want to be cows; that is your business, be cows. Those who don’t want to be, be with me and let’s fight back. We can be poor materially but we are not poor spiritually and intellectually. It’s a belief, it’s the thinking, it’s an ideology, it should be a fact about us, it should be real, otherwise you live for nothing else if you don’t make it real. We can’t be made to dance around by everybody who thinks that they are better or they have more than us. No way.

So, as we assume our responsibilities for ourselves, for this region, for our continent and as part of the global community, this is who we are and this is who we should be. We should exercise that responsibility without fear and without favor.
We are a small country but we are not a small people. Where we may not be able to change things for the good of everyone, we will speak out. At least we will speak out, the voice matters, the truth matters to us. We will even tell anybody what they don’t want to hear that we believe is a fact. It doesn’t matter. You can turn around and twist things and want to penalise this small country, but but not small people, and we will go through that. We will live with that.
We shall continue to be who we are and we shall become who we want to become. But where the Ambassador-Minister is going to represent us, maybe we won’t be able to change many things. As I said earlier, we are a small country but we are not a small people. We must speak out. We must tell the truth, we must say how we see things and then debate can follow. We must never be shy and keep silent on things that matter.
That is our responsibility, not only the Ambassador’s and those he works with but for everyone here. He is there on our behalf and he represents our country and our values. We know what our responsibilities are and we should know what we share with other nations.
I would like once again to congratulate the Ambassador and wish him a productive mission abroad as he will represents our country, keeping in mind that we are a dignified nation, of great people that are eager to listen to what others have to say.
I thank you for your kind attention.

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