You are here

Maduro in Belarus: I feel being among friends here

Belarus and Venezuela intend to make a breakthrough in relations in the next two years. This is the outcome of the negotiations between Alexander Lukashenko and the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Nicolaas Maduro, which took place on October 5 in the Palace of Independence.

The parties considered the widest range of issues, from the work of joint assembly production to cooperation in the agrarian sector. Venezuela also plans to expand cooperation with Belarus in the field of oil production and refining. There is an interest in the construction of agro-towns along the Belarusian model.

Nicholas Maduro is an extraordinary politician who will celebrate his 55th birthday in November. In his career he was a deputy, chairman of the unicameral parliament of Venezuela, foreign minister and deputy head of the Council of Ministers. A confidant and successor to Hugo Chavez, he became president in 2013.

This politician was fond of rock music at school and worked as a driver of a city bus after studying.

The ceremony was held in accordance with the protocol. Without waiting for the official start of the talks, the presidents start a conversation. Alexander Lukashenko and Nicholas Maduro are well acquainted and have already met in the status of heads of state.

The Venezuelan leader flew to Minsk with his wife. Cilia Flores was once a member of human rights defenders of Hugo Chavez.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
Dear Nicholas! I am glad to welcome you here in Belarus, in a friendly country. Your delegation, very respectful one, leaves the country, visits the states of their friends in hard time. This suggests that order necessary for the people is being restored in Venezuela.

I think, dear President, there is no need for me to talk about our feelings for the Venezuelan people, for you personally - we have more than a decade of history of relationships.

We have always cherished feelings of the highest gratitude and respect for you, your people, and your state.

You and I had a great mutual friend Hugo Chávez, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us. I think that the essence of our current meeting with you is that we need to resolutely make a good new step forward in the development of our relations. We are ready for this.

Nicholas Maduro, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela:
I am very pleased to be here - we know that we are among real friends. Venezuela is taking new steps in the economy. In this work, Venezuela and Belarus should identify concrete areas for cooperation. We have already had great successes, we want to restore these achievements step by step. And we came with hope to do it.

We cannot but admit that Venezuela is not having the best of times today. Alexander Lukashenko urges not to dramatize the situation. Belarus also went through a difficult stage in the 1990s. He is sure that Venezuela will survive it successfully. Belarus strongly condemns all sorts of sanctions and interference in the internal affairs of the sovereign state. As for bilateral relations, the results of recent times were not encouraging.

The trade turnover has sharply decreased and Belarusian assembly manufactures have stalled.

Leonid Zayats, Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus:
There are requests to build our agro-towns. in five more places. It is necessary to accompany the production of products technologically and processing in order to enter the food market of Venezuela with those types of food that are now imported.

In addition, a contract for the supply of 5,000 tons of dry whole vitaminized milk is currently under consideration.

Venezuela needs not only food and experience of Belarus, but also Belarusian technology and industrial potential. Contracts for the purchase of components are concluded. The scheme of deliveries to assembly manufactures has been developed also.

Vitaly Vovk, Minister of Industry of the Republic of Belarus:
We are interested in products produced by Venezuela - it's hot briquetted iron, aluminum, silumin, which we still buy outside of our country.

In the near future we will agree and mutual deliveries will commence, and our joint ventures will resume work.

One of the strongest trumps of Venezuela for a long time was black gold. Nicholas Maduro proposes new rules of the game in the oil market, another mechanism of price formation. At the heart of it is a kind of basket of currencies. In Venezuela itself, it includes the yuan, the ruble, the euro and the dollar. Thus, it is proposed to stop speculation. However, the proposals of the current Venezuelan government do not end here. Oil crises (jumps in raw material prices) push the country to diversify incomes. Nicholas Maduro is a devotee of a different, post-oil model of building the economy.

Eulogio Del Pino, Minister of Petroleum and Mining of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela:
The country is now restructuring itself to diversify production, so as not to depend only on oil production and sales. Venezuela has many different natural resources, and, apart from oil, it can be gas production, extraction of minerals, and hydro resources. President Maduro and the government have identified 15 major areas on which to develop the country's economy.

Belarus and Venezuela have already cooperated in the oil sphere. They plan to enter a new stage, more active, and they also see the potential for relations in the post-oil model.

Alexander Lukashenko:
According to Belarusian technology, production of road construction equipment was organized in Venezuela, the largest brick factory in Latin America was opened; together we built hundreds of thousands of square meters of housing for poor citizens of Venezuela. This is a good basis for our further actions. Starting this once, we definitely hit the target, developing the real sector of the economy. Today it is in demand in Venezuela as never before, and when the president said about a new stage of his development in Venezuela, I realized that we were right having chosen this path after discussing it together with Chavez and Nicholas. We are ready to continue this journey together with you in Venezuela.

We are ready to put everything we have on the altar of victory in this difficult situation.

Belarus counts on Venezuela as a strategic, close partner in Latin America. In turn, if necessary, Belarus will provide this partner with all possible support. Alexander Lukashenko announced his readiness to pay a return visit in order to give impetus to relations.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Nicholas, do you remember our talks - Chavez, me and you? Then we were in a very difficult situation and you lent us our shoulder. Do you remember these big problems with hydrocarbons and so on? We were also brought under sanctions. You lend us your shoulder. We have not forgotten this.

So let us together today think about how to quickly solve the problems that exist in Venezuela.

I am ready to fly to Venezuela, and we will consider this plan with the president once again and approve it. But we also agreed that in developing this plan, we should never stop and wait for something. We must work in the areas on which we need to work today concluding specific contracts. Life should not stop, especially during a crisis period and in difficult times.

The two presidents more than once noted the friendly nature of relations.

Nicholas Maduro:
I think that the decision to start a new stage in the field of energy, finance, industry, agriculture, construction, and engineering, based on the success that we have already achieved, is the best solution that we could adopt. We must promote it in practice.

The presidents exchanged gifts: the President of Belarus gave his colleague a tapestry with the image of Mir Castle. He also gifted the first lady a set of table linen with embroidered elements of the Slutsk belt drawing. Nicholas Maduro brought Alexander Lukashenko a picture depicting a view of Caracas.

Leaving the Palace of Independence, the Venezuelan leader went to its alley. There, according to a tradition, high guests together with Alexander Lukashenko planted a tree.

Then the President of Venezuela laid a wreath at the Victory Monument. But there was also one more item in the visit program. On October 5, a monument to the national hero of Venezuela was opened in the Belarusian capital. Nicholas Maduro with his delegation honored the memory of Simon Bolivar.

Maduro in Belarus: I feel being among friends here