Hugo Chavez’s visit to reinforce Venezuela’s ties with Russia
Andrei Klimov, deputy head of the lower house committee on foreign affairs, comments on the upcoming visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez later this month as part of his international tour.
Which priorities do you think will dominate the two countries’ relations over the next few years?
It doesn’t pay to make political forecasts. Right now, Russian-Venezuelan relations have very good prospects. However, there is a chance that this collaboration may slow down or suffer disruption following a change in power in Venezuela. That is why interstate relations should never be built upon personal ties with specific political leaders, but on a more solid foundation.
Russia has such relations based on institutional interaction with Germany, France, Italy and other countries. It is essential for our national interests that no reshuffles or political changes, however hypothetical, whatever the country, should significantly alter the course of our relations.
It is worth noting that Russia tries not to skew its cooperation towards major countries in various parts of the world, be it in Africa, Latin America or North America. We are determined to use each international contact as effectively as possible to further Russia’s national and strategic international interests.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s working visit to Venezuela last April culminated in a series of bilateral agreements. Do you think those initiatives will receive a boost during Hugo Chavez’s visit in October?
Hugo Chavez is in fact coming to Russia to evaluate what has been done on this and discuss new plans and initiatives. Bilateral military-technical cooperation is on the rise now, as are joint oil and gas projects; political cooperation within the UN is also an important element in our relations. Vladimir Putin’s April talks largely focused on economic projects. At the same time, contact with any country’s president always covers a broader range of issues, including political ones. Therefore, I think Chavez’s visit to Moscow will also address foreign political cooperation, not only specific economic projects.
Russia and Venezuela are both major oil exporters; how do you see their future bilateral cooperation in this area?
Russia and Venezuela are solid, civilized partners in the oil and gas sector. I know several leaders of Russian oil companies personally, and I am aware of their international ambitions. I also remember our political leaders’ statements insisting that Russia should do everything it can to integrate with the global economy.
It follows that we must study all possible cooperation schemes, in oil and gas production and processing, and in potential exports to third countries. This should strengthen both our companies’ positions and Russia’s geostrategic status, consequently making the world more interdependent, which is a good thing.
U.S. political analysts have been using the term VIRUS lately to describe what they see as an alliance between Venezuela, Iran and Russia, which allegedly threatens the United States and the West as a whole. Do you think this is a viable theory?
I would call it a brilliant PR stunt, which shows that U.S. political analysts take quite a creative approach. As for the political situation, I would simply continue cooperation across all areas without paying any attention to whatever terms they choose to use. Iran is our neighbor, and Russia is determined to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbors. As for Venezuela, Russia is developing cooperation with that country for different reasons.
In international politics, it is important to be able to distinguish between important and unimportant aspects of international relations. If someone dubs us a “virus,” well that’s up to them. The term I would probably use of them is “paranoid,” but I am no specialist in making such diagnoses.