2 april, 2010 23:20  

Prime Minister Putin and President Chavez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela give a joint news conference following Russian-Venezuelan talks


Russia and Venezuela are strengthening their industrial, transport, high-tech and agricultural ties. “We intend to expand our cooperation with Venezuela, focusing on high-tech projects,” said Mr Putin. The Russian Prime Minister also stressed that the ultimate goal of Russian-Venezuelan relations is “to improve the lives of the people of our countries.”

Vladimir Putin At a joint news conference following Russian-Venezuelan talks

Vladimir Putin's opening remarks:

First of all I would like to thank the Venezuelan President and all our friends for the invitation and for today's work together.

The official part of today's visit began with the wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the illustrious son of the people of Venezuela, Simon Bolivar.

Bolivar was not just a fighter against colonialism in Latin America; his whole life is a shining example for many countries and peoples around the world, an example of the fight against poverty and inequality, an example of the fight for freedom. Yet even today, many years after Bolivar lived, the world is still not perfect. There are still many powers that have continued, literally since the times of colonialism, to take advantage of other peoples and to dictate to other peoples their own ideological clichés and hackneyed phrases, primarily to further their own, sometimes selfish, interests.

To this day, force is used in international affairs, increasingly so in various regions of the world. Other instruments of inequality are also used, including unfair rules for world trade and, more recently, global financial machinations.

Our aim is to make the world more democratic. Our aim is to create a balanced, multi-polar world, and to ensure that all can communicate as equals and feel secure in such a world. And security in this balanced world must not be based on the force of arms, but on international law.

In this context, cooperation between Russia and Venezuela takes on special significance.

Russia has supported the struggle for Latin American independence from the very beginning. The president has brought up another outstanding son of Venezuela, Miranda. In her time, the Russian Empress Catherine II issued a decree allowing him to wear the uniform of a colonel in the Russian army. At the time, this was an act of moral and political support for Miranda and the Latin American struggle for independence, and we have a document in our archives in which Miranda expresses his gratitude for the honour bestowed on him. I would like to present a copy of that document to the president.

Today Russia and Venezuela are strengthening our industrial, transport, high-tech and agricultural ties. You have witnessed the signing of agreements in these vital areas.

We will continue to support and strengthen Venezuela's defence capabilities. As you know, Russia has already provided Venezuela the world's most effective and powerful warplane, the heavy Su-30 fighter, as well as other military hardware. At prices far below world prices, I would like to emphasise.

And today we are launching another major project: the joint development of the Junin-6 oilfield in the Orinoco River basin. Documents to that effect have also been signed here.

Gazprom has been active in the Venezuelan natural gas industry for several years now. The company is currently implementing two large-scale projects.

Russian KAMAZ trucks are already being exported to Venezuela. As you have heard, we have reached an agreement for the first shipment of Lada cars. And in the future, we expect to be able to build assembly plants for Russian cars in Venezuela.

Furthermore, we intend to expand our cooperation with Venezuela, focusing on high-tech projects.

To go back to Junin, I would like to tell you that under the contract signed between the Russian company involved in that project and the Venezuelan national company PDVSA, the Russian party has pledged to pay $1 billion for a so-called entry fee for participation in this project. I would like to hand over the documents for the first, $600 million tranche of that bonus.

Also, an agreement has practically been reached for Russian involvement in some other energy projects, for which the bonus will also be $1 billion.

Moreover, as has already been said, we are also ready to increase our cultural ties, in sports and education and by exchanging cultural delegations. We will provide assistance with any personnel training programmes. We have a great deal of work to do together, the ultimate goal of which is to improve the lives of the people in our countries. Of course, the challenge is great, but God rewards those who persevere, as Bolivar said in his time. And this is how we intend to act.

Finally, we will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Victory over Nazism together, and it is a great pleasure for me to be in Caracas on the eve of another momentous date: the bicentenary of the beginning of the struggle for Latin American independence. I would like to express my solidarity with you, my friend Hugo, and all the people of Venezuela on this momentous date.

Thank you for your attention.

* * * 

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin answered journalists' questions during joint news conference with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Question: If we think back, several years ago cooperation between Russia and Venezuela began with defence cooperation, that is, arms sales. Then we moved into the field of energy and oil.

Judging from the number of agreements signed today - and I have information that this work will continue - Russia and Venezuela are working together in a large number of areas.

I am wondering whether we can pull this off, I mean our countries, especially considering that a backlog and serious problems have built up in trade between Russia and Venezuela.

Will we be able to meet this challenge? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Our trade has declined precisely because our relations were lop-sided, lacking diversity and the serious foundations provided by long-term contracts. Therefore, what we are doing today can be seen as only the beginning of our full-scale economic cooperation.

This is the antidote to the global economic and financial crises. The more diverse our relations the less they will be affected by international financial and economic problems.

I do not have the slightest doubt that if we follow the path we set forth today, it will bring success, as I have said, and will create a solid base that will safeguard us against international economic upheavals.

Question: Mr Chavez, you said that last year Venezuela asked Russia for a loan of $2.2 billion to buy military hardware. How much of that loan has already been disbursed? And how do you think Washington will see this increase in your arsenal? And also, how will your cooperation in the field of nuclear technology be perceived?

And a question for Prime Minister Putin: do you see relations with Venezuela as a kind of bridge to other Latin American countries?

Vladimir Putin: I think almost everybody here knows the figures, though perhaps not everybody. So allow me to remind you. If one combines all annual military spending by all countries in the world - all! - it is still less than the United States of America's annual military budget. All the countries of the world spend less on arms than the US.

Therefore, I consider the questions as to whether strengthening the defences of small states can threaten anyone to be improper. We have good relations with the United States and, thank God, we have nothing to complain about in our relations with Britain. If the US does not want to supply weapons to some countries, including Venezuela, this is good for us. Let them go on not supplying weapons. Nature abhors a vacuum.

Regarding loans. Yes, Venezuela has asked us for a $2.2 billion loan.

The Russian Ministry of Finance has considered and studied the request together with our colleagues from Venezuela. During the talks today, I told the president that Russia is ready to make the financial resources available.

So far Venezuela has not availed itself of the offer and has not taken or used a single dollar of the loan offered.

Question: I have a question about the Junin-6 oilfield. A number of documents were signed today, and I would like to know more details. Will the venture being created be able to jointly develop other fields?

And going back to the loan: will Venezuela take a more active role in working to receive this loan? And when does it want to receive the loan? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You sound just like Kudrin, the Russian Minister of Finance.

Venezuela has made the request and we are ready to honour it. But they have not yet taken the loan; they do not need it for now. They will take it when they need it.

As for Junin-6, this is one of the largest oilfields in the world. We are grateful to the Venezuelan government for allowing us access to it. Moreover, Russia has created a national consortium of our leading oil companies, all of which are present here today.

Our share is 40% and Venezuela's is 60%. We believe that work in this oilfield will go on for decades - 30 years, maybe 40 years. When it hits full capacity, it will produce 400 to 450 million barrels a year, or 5,000 barrels a day. This is a huge amount, a huge recovery rate. This is a major project.

We also discussed other oilfields today. Our partners told us that they are ready to increase cooperation, because the proposed terms for such cooperation suit our Venezuelan partners. And I repeat - as I said in my opening remarks -- if work gets off to a good start, Russia will pay an additional bonus of $1 billion for entry into these fields.

Question: Good evening, Prime Minister, President Chavez. I have two questions. The first is for Prime Minister Putin. We would like to know what are your commitments in the joint fight against terrorism?

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the charges against Venezuela of supporting terrorism and our cooperation on this issue. As you know, Russia has long led the fight against international terrorism and has repeatedly been targeted by terrorists, including quite recently.

We have a collected a considerable amount of information on terrorism, the sponsors of terrorism and so on, and we do not have and have never had any information that Venezuela is supporting terrorism in any way. If it were otherwise, I would not be here today, despite all the benefits of economic cooperation. Number one.

Number two. We are grateful to President Chavez for the sympathy he has expressed to Russian President Medvedev in connection with the recent tragic events in the Moscow metro and Dagestan.

We will strengthen our counterterrorism cooperation, in particular by increasing communication between our security services and law-enforcement bodies.

I would like to apologise to the journalist from Great Britain. I have not answered one part of his question. He asked whether we see Russia's cooperation with Venezuela as a bridge for building relations with other countries in the region. Up to a point, yes. If, for example, one of our companies builds a modern production facility to make railway tracks, it does more than simply create additional jobs in Venezuela. We believe it could promote our products in Venezuela's neighbouring countries, especially in countries with which Venezuela is working to become further integrated, as President Chavez just mentioned.

And we are also working directly with many countries in the region. We consider it to be a promising region. President Medvedev will soon visit Brazil and Argentina. We will work with all Latin American countries.

Thank you.