WE believe that nuclear energy is the future, says Bolivian President Evo Morales. During bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Thursday, President Morales said Bolivia was determined to expand cooperation with Russian companies.
“Today, we have signed a package of agreements on issues related to energy, hydrocarbons, lithium deposits and many other items,” he said.
President Morales said during his 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,” he said.
President Morales said the support of President Putin and the Government of the Russian Federation was 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,” he said. “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.”
President Morales said the signed memorandums and agreements would become a new landmark in the development of Bolivia-Russia cooperation.
“They will make it possible to create new jobs inside the country and attract investment in the economy, thereby promoting economic growth,” he said.
“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.”
President Morales said Bolivia and Russia work together in multiple energy-related sectors further noting that cooperation is expanding in the nuclear sector with many Bolivian students study at Russian universities.
“We believe that nuclear energy is the future; therefore, we are determined to expand cooperation with Russian companies,” said President Morales.
And President Putin said Russia and Bolivia shared more than 120 years of bilateral diplomatic relations “that have been developing quite successfully in recent years.”
“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,” he said.
“…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.”
He said Bolivia was Russia’s long-standing partner in Latin America.
“During the talks we focused on economic cooperation, agreeing with Mr Morales to take concrete steps to expand mutual trade and investment. Energy is an important sector in bilateral cooperation,” he said. “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.”
President Putin said the centre would 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.”
He viewed agriculture as an attractive and promising area of cooperation.
“I hope that Bolivia’s agricultural produce, including livestock produce, beef, will soon find their way to the Russian market,” he said.
President Putin said Russian businesses were interested in developing Bolivian deposits, including deposits of lithium and other valuable resources, using high-efficiency and clean technologies. He also said Russian automobiles were in demand on the Bolivian market. He said Russian companies would participate in Bolivia’s programme to switch its cargo and passenger transport to natural gas fuel. President Putin announced that a Russian-Bolivian fertiliser company would begin operating shortly. He congratulated President Morales on receiving an honorary doctorate from the Russian People’s Friendship University, 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,” said President Putin.