President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
We are happy to welcome the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, our partner and friend Evo Morales, who is in Russia on an official visit.
We held talks that were constructive and meaningful, beginning in a restricted format and then joined by the heads of agencies and business leaders to discuss Russian-Bolivian ties in all their aspects, as well as to review current international and regional problems.
Let me emphasise that Bolivia is Russia’s long-standing partner in Latin America. Relations between our countries are based on the principles of respect and consideration for each other’s interests. The history of our relations dates back many years. Last year we marked the 120th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Mr Morales and I have just signed a Joint Statement confirming the genuinely strategic nature of Russian-Bolivian cooperation and expressing a firm commitment to further strengthening it in all areas.
During the talks we focused on economic cooperation, agreeing with Mr Morales to take concrete steps to expand mutual trade and investment. Instructions to this effect were issued to the Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Energy is an important sector in bilateral cooperation. Gazprom is proactive in the Bolivian market having invested some $500 million in Bolivia’s oil and gas industry and in developing deposits in the country.
There are good prospects for cooperation on nuclear energy. Rosatom is about to complete a Nuclear Research and Technology Centre in Bolivia. This is a unique project. The nuclear reactor will be built at an altitude of about 4,000 metres above sea level, something that has never been done before anywhere else.
This centre will carry out research on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and the solutions that will be developed there will be relevant for various industrial sectors, geology, healthcare and agriculture.
Let me note by the way that agriculture is an attractive and promising area of cooperation that we view as a priority. We agreed to continue working together in this sphere.
I hope that Bolivia’s agricultural produce, including livestock produce, beef, will soon find their way to the Russian market.
I would like to point out that Russian businesses are interested in developing Bolivian deposits, including deposits of lithium and other valuable resources, using high-efficiency and clean technologies.
Our companies are ready to get involved in infrastructure projects in Bolivia. These projects include expanding the international airport in Santa Cruz with a view to upgrading it to a large logistics centre, and building a transoceanic railway corridor.
Russian automobiles are in demand on the Bolivian market. Russian companies will participate in Bolivia’s programme to switch its cargo and passenger transport to natural gas fuel.
As I said, there are good opportunities for our cooperation in agriculture. Russian and Bolivian veterinary agencies have established constructive collaboration to facilitate mutual supplies of agricultural and animal products. A Russian-Bolivian fertiliser company will begin operating shortly.
We are boosting our bilateral contacts in cultural and educational affairs. Russia supports Bolivia in training highly qualified professionals. The Bolivian University of San Simon opened the first Russian language department in the country. Bolivians study in Russia, primarily at the Russian People’s Friendship University.
It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Mr Morales on receiving an honorary doctorate from this university, which is the alma mater for many citizens of Latin American and African countries.
Mr President, this award recognises your personal contribution to promoting Russian-Bolivian ties in politics, the economy and culture, and strengthening friendship between our nations.
While discussing the global and regional agendas, we noted similarity in the positions of the two countries on the majority of current issues. Russia and Bolivia have always been committed to strict compliance with the key principles of international law enshrined in the United Nations Charter, including respect for the sovereignty and interests of all states, and the unacceptability of pressure or the use of unilateral sanctions.
Given Bolivia’s current presidency in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), we had a detailed discussion of the state of affairs in the Latin American region. We are grateful to the Bolivian leaders for their efforts to promote Russia’s cooperation with regional integration unions. We hope for a resumption of the Russia-CELAC format.
Of course, we discussed the situation in Venezuela. Russia has repeatedly stressed that outside interference in Venezuelan affairs is unacceptable. President Morales upholds the same position.
We hope that the talks between the government of Venezuela and the opposition, which are underway with Norway’s assistance, will result in solutions that are acceptable for all Venezuelans and that will make it possible to normalise the situation in the country.
In conclusion, I would like to thank President Morales and all our Bolivian colleagues for this effective joint work. I am confident that the agreements reached today will serve to further strengthen Russian-Bolivian ties and will benefit our peoples and our states.
I know that during his 13 years in office, Mr Morales has done a lot for his country and his people. Naturally, there are problems, as with any country. But we are also aware of the results that have been achieved thanks to his thoughtful leadership and his attentive attitude to people’s needs.
Once again, I would like to welcome you in Russia and express hope that our work today will lead to further expansion of interaction in the above areas.
Thank you for your attention.
President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia Evo Morales (retranslated): First, I would like to thank the President of the Russian Federation and the Russian Government officials for our productive work, We would like to thank you on behalf of not only the Bolivian Government but also the Bolivian people.
Today, we have signed a package of agreements on issues related to energy, hydrocarbons, lithium deposits and many others items. All this is a result of this important work. But it is even more important that in my 13 years in office, we have been working together for six of these years in economic integration associations, including with Russia. It is because of this that Bolivia is growing as fast as it is now.
The agreements we signed today show, in a way, how far we have come in our relations with fraternal Russia. They make it possible to lay a reliable foundation for further investment in our economy, and allow us to exchange knowledge and technical know-how.
We consider the support of the President and the Government of the Russian Federation to be very important. It is important for many different reasons.
First, it is the President of Russia who leads the efforts to protect international order, prevent the use of force in international affairs and interference in the internal life of other countries, and to uphold the sovereignty of states. We are acting shoulder to shoulder with other states on these issues.
We campaign for common rights, the dignity of each country and each nation because in the final count we want not only our state but the entire world to be plurinational.
We are very different, but we should understand that our power lies in this diversity and we should respect the distinctions and specifics of each individual country. Given this approach, Russia is a truly fraternal country for us.
The signed memorandums and agreements that have just been announced will become a new landmark in the development of our cooperation. They will make it possible to create new jobs inside the country and attract investment in the economy, thereby promoting economic growth.
Indeed, we have discussed many matters, and many of them were related to the energy sector and the gas industry. We are working in very close cooperation with our Russian colleagues in these areas.
We discussed the acquisition of transport vehicles and other matters, including agricultural equipment, the participation of Russian companies in the project to upgrade the international airport in Santa Cruz, and the Bi-oceanic Railway Corridor project.
For Bolivia, the issue of access to the sea and the creation of this corridor is a national priority. We are grateful to our Russian colleagues for joining a national project that matters so much to us.
I strongly believe that the peoples of both countries benefit from this cooperation. We are always happy to work with our Russian colleagues.
Thank you very much.
Question: Excuse me.
Is there ongoing contact between Russia and Ukraine?
Dmitry Medvedev recently met with Yury Boiko and Viktor Medvedchuk, but so far, you have not responded in any way to the proposal of holding talks in a new format with the participation of the United States and England.
Vladimir Putin: I excuse you.
You know, we have never refused to work in any of the proposed formats, including an expanded Normandy format.
Firstly, this Normandy format and top-level meetings have to be carefully prepared, which is obvious.
Secondly, we can discuss this only once the new government is in place and the parliamentary election is held in the country.
Thirdly, I do not know how the other participants in this process are responding to this proposal. For example, Ms Theresa May, as far as I know, will be leaving office as Great Britain’s Prime Minister in a couple of weeks. In what capacity is she invited to this meeting? This is unclear. Has she even agreed to attend?
We do not know what the US Administration thinks about this. The same applies to Germany and France. All these questions will have to be worked out. We never refuse to meet with anyone as long as the meetings are beneficial. But this could also be an interesting format.