President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez (translated from Spanish through Russian): How are you?
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Very well.
Mr President, I am very glad to see you in Moscow. You have a very big trip ahead of you – both in our country and elsewhere.
I know that you are already embarked on a pre-election campaign. Judging from what we saw in municipal and parliamentary elections, there are excellent chances for you to win the elections. We wish you success.
I am pleased to note that relations between our countries are developing in a positive way. In absolute terms numbers are still small but, nevertheless, our volume of trade is growing and growing at impressive rates. Our trade is growing at more than 50 percent.
Venezuela is a natural partner for us. Venezuela is the country on the American continent with the largest oil reserves and has the eighth largest gas reserves in the world. This represents enormous potential opportunities. And I am very glad that our companies are involved in searching for joint initiatives in the energy sector. And our companies are not only looking the energy sector but also engineering, outer space and the metallurgical industry. Mr President, I hope, or rather I am confident that your visit will certainly act as an incentive to develop multilateral ties between Venezuela and the Russian Federation.
I hope that you enjoyed visiting various Russian regions. I am expecting to hear your impressions and stories from the trip.
Welcome Mr President!
President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez: Thank you Mr President!
Dear friend, I am very glad to be here for what is already the fourth time. As I just recently said in the all-Russia Library [Margarita Rudomino Foreign Literature Library] – and the director of the library asked me to transfer her best wishes to you – as I said in front of ambassadors and the others present: ‘each trip to Russia is different from the previous one’. As Heraclitus said: ‘you cannot step in the same river twice’. During this trip we were able to understand even more deeply the soul of the Russian people because the first stop in our visit to Russia was Volgograd. The Governor also asked me to transmit greetings to you.
As you know, we visited Belarus. President Lukashenko also asked me to send along his best wishes. I met him for the first time. We developed good relations and a nice friendship.
Yesterday we were in Udmurtiya in a factory that produces automatic Kalashnikovs. We visited a museum there. I saw your picture taken with General Kalashnikov. In fact, you recently visited the region. The President of Udmurtiya also asked me to pass on regards to you. Now he is preparing to open the [VI all-Russia] rural summer games in Izhevsk. Perhaps you will play football there?
Vladimir Putin: I’ll think about it. It’s a good idea.
Hugo Chavez: As I already said, I understood the soul of the Russian people even more deeply.
We visited a major factor that produces oil refining equipment. Workers, managers and technicians in the factory all told us about reestablishing production after the awful situation at the beginning of the 1990s. We learned about an enormous potential that we had not even imagined. For example, we got to know new technologies used to produce drilling equipment and special pumps operated by electric propulsion. And after that we had time to visit a factory that produces dairy products where we tasted locally-produced cheese and yogurt. We were also on a firing range.
My present visit has a much deeper significance. I am fully determined to continue strengthening relations with Russia. And you well know that this stems from my soul, my heart and the vision of the world that I think we both share. We also constantly follow what you are doing in Russia, the proposals you make on the international arena, and your successes. Your successes are Russia’s successes. And despite the distance that separates us we share all of these successes with you. Russia’s steady, firm position, protecting the sovereignty of its people, protecting diplomacy from war – ensuring that wars do not start, protecting peace, a position designed to strengthen a multipolar world, development and integration are all positions we will always share with you. Allow me to tell you in the sincerest possible way that I recognize and highly value all of your achievements. I am confident that you will continue to work indefatigably in this area.
Just now in the [Foreign Literature] Library we recalled Simon Bolivar. We uncovered a bust in his honour. I remembered an oath that Bolivar made in 1805 when he said: ‘I will not fail, and neither my heart nor my hand will fail’. In our struggle we also should not allow either our minds or our hands to get tired. Venezuela will be always with you in this.
As you said, we are ready to expand and strengthen bilateral relations. And in this sense we can continue our efforts towards establishing a multipolar world. I am very grateful for your personal solidarity and Russia’s solidarity.
We are very happy with how joint projects are developing. You probably know that the company Lukoil is working with us on several such projects. Thanks to the Governor’s efforts we met in Volgograd. I think that before the end of the year we will begin drilling oil deposits that have already been opened. And we are almost ready to start drilling on a site in the Orinoco river basin.
As you rightly said, Venezuela posses one of the largest stocks of oil in the world. Prospecting is now underway around the Orinoco river to determine the stocks of hydrocarbons. Approximately 270 billion barrels of oils are estimated to be contained in these stocks. We made the first drilling two months ago together with the Brazilian company Petrobras and it confirmed that there is oil very close to the surface. The results of our drilling were surprising: there was three times more oil than what we had expected. For that reason it seems to us that the volumes of these stocks will amount to much more than the initial estimation of 270 billion barrels.
Vladimir Putin: As far as I know, our company has also won the right to develop a gas deposit in the gulf of Venezuela.
Hugo Chavez: Thank you for reminding me of this because it represents yet one more hand that Russia is holding out to us and in a strategic place, in the gulf. You rightly pointed out that we have the eighth largest gas reserves in the world. But after developing the deposits the volumes of gas certainly seem greater than the initial estimations. We are now implementing a project for a major gas pipeline towards the south and hope that Russia will help us carry out this project.
You know, it has been seven years since I began campaigning for integration in Latin America. And you know how Latin America has changed. I came to visit you as a full member of Mercosur. From a geopolitical point of view this is a very important step. Five years ago not one government wanted Venezuela to become a member of Mercosur and now Lula [da Silva, President of Brazil] and Kirshner [President of Argentina] are our great colleagues.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President, how did you like the demonstration of our aviation technology?
Hugo Chavez: You know, Su planes flew. We were gripped right away. In fact, it was marvelous. I almost gave into the temptation to sit in a plane myself and to fly. And in addition to this I would like to thank you, Mr President, for having liberated us from, shall we say, a blockade. Because there was a moment when our F-16 planes couldn’t fly because of the absence of spare parts. They took away all the radars and we were practically disarmed. And now we have Kalshnikovs.