During a press conference held at the end of the visit, Venezuelan President Chavez referred to the meeting as an important indication of the growing Caracas- Moscow relationship and the need to maintain such ties of mutual cooperation.
“It’s a powerful sign to continue strengthening bilateral relations and contribute in the creation of balance and world peace - one of the greatest goals and objectives that we have”, the Venezuelan head of state said.
As part of the ministerial delegation, the Russian team visited a housing project in the military zone of Fort Tiuna in western Caracas where six thousand new apartments are nbeing built as a result of an agreement signed between the two countries.
With respect to the financial sector, the two teams reviewed a joint Russian-Venezuelan bank venture, founded in 2009, that seeks to fund a diversity of bilateral projects with a special emphasis on energy collaboration. The bank, a joint enterprise between Venezuela’s state oil company Pdvsa and Russia’s Gazprom bank, has its headquarters in Moscow and has recently opened its first office in Caracas.
According to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a special message to his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez on Friday, ratifying his contentment with the “deep strategic alliance” that has grown up between Caracas and Moscow.
Venezuela’s chief diplomat referred to the message of Putin as reaffirming “the brotherhood that has been cultivated over more than 10 years between Venezuelan and Russian authorities”.
“Today, we are strategic allies in the construction of new relationships of cooperation and above all, strategic allies in the construction of a peaceful, stable world as the Liberator Simon Bolivar spoke of”, Maduro said in reference to Venezuela’s independence hero at the end of the talks on Friday.
The Russian delegation was the first of its kind to travel to a foreign country since the formation of President Putin’s new cabinet on May 21.
DEFENSE & FLOWERS
At Saturday’s press conference, President Chavez divulged the topics touched upon by the two nations including heightened collaboration in oil exploitation and defense spending.
“The Russian ministerial delegation has been in Venezuela to continue strengthening bilateral relations. There has been a military-technical agreement signed with the approval of a $4 billion loan granted by Moscow so that Venezuela can defend its sovereignty”, Chavez said.
The loan will maintain the tight defense relationship that Caracas has fostered with Moscow over the past eight years – a relationship that Washington has criticized and attempted to obstruct.
On Saturday, the Venezuelan head of state pre-empted any opposition to the defense spending by exerting his nation’s sovereign right and obligation to arm itself.
“Let them say what they want to say. Venezuela has a right to defend herself. We also have the constitutional obligation to maintain our Armed Forces organized and well-supplied. This isn’t to attack anyone. It’s to defend ourselves”, President Chavez declared.
Chavez also reported that agricultural agreements including the export of plantains, coffee, cacao and flowers from the Caribbean nation to Russia were evaluated and reaffirmed during the ministers’ visit to Caracas.