President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank President Hugo Chavez for his hospitality and for a constructive and business-like dialogue.
I have an extremely high opinion of the results of our talks. And I am convinced that the current visit will further our mutually beneficial cooperation and will also facilitate the assertion of partner-like relations between the Russian Federation and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Today, we have discussed all the main aspects of business cooperation and its prospects. As of late 2007, Venezuela is one of our key Latin American partners. We are very happy about expanded development and the fact that our trade turnover has already topped $1 billion. I hope we will post even more impressive results in late 2008.
Our today’s talks aimed to consolidate this trend against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, when cooperation in the financial sphere is becoming highly important.
President Chavez and I have exchanged opinions on what should be done in this situation, and how we could cooperate in conditions of tough competition and tackle problems arising in the financial sphere.
In this connection, we attach great significance to the creation of a Russian-Venezuelan bank. President Chavez and I have agreed that an inter-governmental agreement on this subject will be signed in the next two weeks, and that we will soon start forming the bank’s statutory capital and will subsequently launch its work.
We have also discussed financial problems and those linked with the financial crisis in the context of expanding bilateral relations. We have discussed the possibility of using our national currencies, namely, the rouble and the bolivar, for mutual payments and settlements, and for creating national-currency reserves.
Our large-scale investment projects continue to develop successfully. We have just signed a number of extremely important agreements. I believe that they have laid a new foundation for cooperation in every sphere mentioned by them, namely, energy, oil and gas trade, expanded investment cooperation in this area, nuclear energy cooperation and that in the field of air traffic.
Another highly important agreement stipulating short-term visa-free travel to our countries has been signed. This is a very important result. Hopefully, more Venezuelan and Russian citizens will visit each other’s countries, taking advantage of the more liberal visa regime.
Major Russian companies, namely, energy giant Gazprom and crude oil producers LUKoil, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz, have entered the Venezuelan market. They are actively negotiating with Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA. This pool also involves Rosneft. These are very good results.
Substantial prospects are opening up in the ore-mining industry, aluminium and kaolin production, and the engineering and ship-building sectors. We have also witnessed the signing of an agreement stipulating expanded cooperation in the sphere of ship-building, agriculture, transport and air traffic.
I believe there are good prospects for expanding railway traffic and the national railway network. These projects could involve other Russian companies, including transport monopoly Russian Railways.
On the whole, we will do everything possible to promote business activity and to facilitate ties between our economies.
President Hugo Chavez and I have set these objectives to the chiefs of relevant departments in our countries and to the high-level Russian-Venezuelan inter-governmental commission.
I would like to note the commission’s extremely successful work. Its heads deserve every credit for this. It would have been impossible to prepare some of the documents without their hard work.
We have agreed to expand scientific and technical contacts, and have just signed the relevant memos.
We have also discussed other issues, for example, cooperation in space.
In general, I believe that we have a real opportunity to make scientific and technical contacts a key element of cooperation between Russia and Venezuela.
There is one more subject we are seriously engaged in – military-technical cooperation, which we are developing in strict conformity with international legal standards. It goes without saying that we will continue this cooperation. We have exchanged opinions with President Chavez on what we are going to do in this sphere and how.
Apart from business cooperation, humanitarian contacts and ties in culture, science, tourism, and sports are very important as well. I highly appreciate the days of Russian culture in Latin America, which were recently held in Caracas. We are hoping that such events will continue. There are prospects for opening special centres in Latin America, for instance, for the study of the Russian language. I believe that all this will bring our nations closer together, and provide additional incentives for cooperation in other areas. I have also mentioned the agreement on visa-free travel, and this will bring us closer as well.
President Chavez and I have also exchanged opinions on key international issues. I would like to note that our positions are close or identical. We, Russia and Venezuela, proceed from the common striving for a multi-polar and stable world, which is built on the concerted will of its nations. We would like to establish an effective system of global security, which would rest on the supremacy of international law, respect for sovereignty, and due account of the lawful interests and rights of states.
Regrettably, today the world is beset with different problems. We have witnessed serious tragedies. Only recently, a terrorist attack was staged in Mumbai, India, and many people lost their lives. We mourn these losses and believe that such terrorist actions are doing damage to the entire world order, and are a challenge to humanity.
Naturally, we also spoke about ways of overcoming the financial crisis. I have already mentioned this. I think our two countries also have a good potential of cooperation in this respect.
In general, I would like to say that in the last few years our cooperation has grown much stronger, and continues making steady progress. I believe that it has very good prospects. At any rate, Mr President and I have agreed that we will actively work on it, both in Caracas and Moscow. I have again invited my colleague, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chavez to visit Moscow, and still better, other cities. We spoke about St Petersburg. I hope his visit will take place next year.