Vladimir Putin: Colleagues and friends, a cordial welcome to you in the capital of Russia.
We see your visit, Mr President, as proof of your serious interest in developing our interaction in all areas. You can count on full understanding of this approach to the development of bilateral relations on our side.
We see Venezuela as an influential and authoritative country in Latin America and a serious member of the club of oil powers. We see our cooperation as a key element of interaction with Latin America as a whole. Political contacts have become regular: we have stable links between Parliaments of the two countries, a parliamentary group of Venezuelan-Russian friendship was created by the National Assembly of Venezuela in October 1996 and in February this year a similar group was formed in our legislative body.
We had a very frank talk with Mr President, which lasted more than an hour. We touched on practically all the issues of bilateral cooperation and a wide range of international problems.
Our colleagues now have a chance to make their contribution to the discussion of these issues of mutual interest for both our countries: interaction on the international arena, bilateral relations in the energy and many other fields, agriculture and industrial production, science, technology, personnel training and education.
We appreciate the Venezuelan President’s decision to come to the Russian Federation. I am sure it will be a good impetus for the development of bilateral relations. I would like to take this opportunity and, in your presence, once again to thank the President of Venezuela for accepting the Russian invitation and arriving in Russia with such a representative delegation. Mr Chavez belongs to a new generation of Latin American politicians, politicians who have a very clear and very concrete idea of the national interests of their states and consistently uphold them.
Venezuela currently holds the chairmanship of one of the most representative and important international organisations, OPEC. Russia is also a major producer of energy resources, oil and gas. But this is not the only reason for the two sides to be mutually interested in developing cooperation between them. We share a common wish to see the modern world on the threshold of the new millennium more democratic and safe. We want our partners to be able to develop like us, to be able to pursue their multi-lateral relations for the benefit of their peoples. The world must be much more just than it is today.
At the focus of our discussion today were practical pragmatic issues. We have a considerable interest in the integration processes on the Latin American continent. The President and I discussed the participation of our country in these processes which are in many ways spearheaded by Venezuela.
I would like to thank my colleague for the frank and substantive discussion of all the above mentioned themes. I am sure that the visit by Mr Chavez to Russia will be useful and will give a good impetus to our bilateral relations.
Question: How does the Russian President see Venezuela’s participation in the processes of Latin American integration? And how could Venezuela contribute to these processes?
Vladimir Putin: I am absolutely sure that Venezuela can play a very important role in several key areas of development in the modern world. It applies to the coordination of our efforts with Venezuela and other Latin American countries towards creating a modern multi-polar world. Above all, we are talking about the political sphere. We have been told about some of the initiatives of your President and we believe that they are very mature and well-grounded. These include initiatives in the sphere of Latin American integration. Another area is Venezuela’s participation together with other countries, including Russia, in creating conditions that will counter the modern threats confronting the humankind today. They include the war on crime, the war on drug-trafficking, the war on terror and other scourges of our time.
Venezuela’s participation in building up bilateral relations between Latin American countries and other countries is very important. It paves the way for the solution of another strategic task, building of a modern democratic world order in the sphere of economic relations.
There are some other areas in which the participation of Venezuela would be considerable, but I think I have named the main areas. If we make progress in these areas, we will solve the main task and give a boost to the material well-being of our peoples.
Question: Are you ready to coordinate your energy policy, including on the international arena? Could you give some details of this problem?
Vladimir Putin: It is a priority sphere of cooperation for us and it is highly specific. Such interaction is not only possible, it is vital for us because Venezuela is the current President of OPEC and Russia is a major oil producer in the world. Because Venezuela and Russia are both countries in whose economies that sector is the key sector, the character of cooperation is as follows: first, coordinating our policies in the sphere of pricing, second, investment activities, and third, broad exchange of information in this sphere. We have a common approach to the problem of pricing. We believe that prices should be acceptable for consumers of petroleum products who must be able to forecast developments in this sphere and forecast the development of their own economies, on the one hand; and on the other hand, oil prices, of course, must be fair for the producers.
Today we agreed with the proposal Mr President put forward during the talks to make some additions to our joint statement: we have agreed to set up a high-level working commission to discuss this and other problems of bilateral cooperation. It is a very important initiative and I would like to thank Mr President for it.