Interview of President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko to the Venezolana de Televisión TV Channel
W. Martínez (author and host of the Dossier program)
First of all, I would like to thank you for receiving us, for the interview.
Our country is open for the entire world. This characterizes our President Hugo Chávez. But at the same time we see that Venezuela has established especially close and cordial relations with Belarus. In your opinion, what can be singled out in our relations of friendship, cooperation?
We can single out a lot of things. But let us begin with something simple. We have very friendly, fraternal relations of the two leaders. There is no rejection between Chávez and Lukashenko.
Hugo Chávez is a great person indeed. I think that as a person he has no drawbacks. He is simple, he can be trusted, he is very friendly. But the main thing is that this courageous man is ready to support you in the most difficult moment. You must admit that not everyone can do it. And it is very important.
Of course, relations with the President of Venezuela have a positive impact on all the avenues of cooperation between Venezuela and Belarus.
At the beginning of our cooperation solutions of the presidents were fundamental. Everything depended on whether we would decide to cooperate in the fields that were crucial for the two states. If we do, we will cooperate. If we had not found common interests, including in the economy, and had not decided on close cooperation, there would have been no cooperation.
This is, so to speak, the subjective side of our relations. One should not think that your President and I are a kind of philanthropists, that we work for charitable causes. We do not. The objective foundation of our cooperation is in the economy. We need each other.
Our economies are complementary. We have something that you do not, you have something that we need. That is what impelled our cooperation.
Now let us focus on the main thing: what distinguishes us from other countries. Venezuela cooperates and has cooperated with many countries. Venezuela is a super-rich country. You have the largest oil deposits in the world. You have huge reserves of natural gas. Other resources (metals and so on) are in large quantities in Venezuela.
When other countries tried to get hold of a lot of natural resources at the lowest price, President Hugo Chávez and I agreed that when buying and extracting natural resources in compliance with your laws, we will take an active part in creating the industrial basis of your state.
We are ready to assist you in making your economy less dependent on raw materials, creating strong agricultural and industrial complexes in your country. As your friends, we said that from now on Venezuela is, like, a part of Belarus, and Belarus is a part of Venezuela. Several years ago I promised my friend Hugo Chávez that everything he will like in Belarus we will create in Venezuela.
Our country and our economy differ from others by the availability of cutting-edge technologies. We agreed with President Hugo Chávez to use these technologies to build enterprises in Venezuela with a view to make your economy less dependent on resources, to develop the country’s agricultural and industrial complexes.
When Hugo Chávez comes to Belarus, the country is open for him. He can visit everything he wants. He says: “I want this to be built in Venezuela”. We go to Venezuela, build plants, create agricultural associations, and help develop Venezuela so that it can become an industrial state, the leading state in Latin America.
The problem of such countries as Venezuela is that the lion’s share of their foreign currency proceeds comes from selling raw materials and extracting natural resources. This is their problem. But Hugo Chávez said: “I want the money from the oil and gas complex, from the extraction of natural resources to be used for the benefit of the Venezuelan people. I want to funnel this money into building enterprises that will work for the benefit of the people of Venezuela”.
You understand that he has made a great economic decision. This allowed within a short period of time to set up a number of companies to produce important commodities and build a lot of houses in Venezuela.
Therefore, we implement the decision of Hugo Chávez to diversify your economy. And I am confident that within this five-year period we will achieve bigger results, striking results which will transform Venezuela. We came to you not to just to take what we need, to buy it, and so on. We came to you with an open heart to help you build the new industrial society.
In the near future you are going to visit Venezuela. For sure, you will have a busy schedule. Could you please brief us on some events you are going to participate in?
I endeavour to implement the project of Hugo Chávez, in which I did not believe at the time. However, this project proved feasible.
Speaking of our interests, I considered Venezuela a huge platform to work in entire Latin America. I suggested my friend Hugo Chávez to view Belarus, which is located in the center of Europe, as a platform to develop into Europe. This was our goal. But you know Hugo Chávez. He is a man of big soul, big heart and great ideas. He once told me: “You know I feel sorry for the Cubans. I feel sorry for the people of Nicaragua who are in a very difficult situation. Nicaragua, where our true friends won. In Ecuador the situation is developing in a right way. It would be great to join efforts to help our friends in these countries using your modern technologies”.
I thought, what were the roots of these aspirations of Hugo Chávez? I asked him: “Why are you so concerned about other states and other peoples when you have to solve a dime a dozen of problems in Venezuela, including with the help of Belarus? What underlies your aspiration?” He answered: “You know Venezuela will not hold out in Latin America alone. It will not survive. It will be crushed if it is alone. Thus, it is important to create the belt of fraternal countries, true friends around Venezuela”. This is a great idea! This is right.
I not only believed in this idea, I was stricken by such thinking and decided that Belarus should do its utmost to help implement this project.
A year passed. We were working in this direction. We looked for ways to implement it. What is the place of Belarus in this project? We had to build an economic foundation. If not, it will be nothing but a good idea. We need an economic foundation. And we have been working on it for a year.
Therefore, I will visit Cuba. I am going to discuss cooperation of the three states: Belarus, Venezuela and Cuba. It is worth saying that Hugo Chávez has done a lot to arrange this visit to Cuba and to implement the project. He has worked through many issues with Cuba.
We can have a lot of cooperation programs with Cuba and Venezuela, trilateral programs, from extraction of hydrocarbons to development of medicine and healthcare. Thus, my first destination is Cuba.
Then I will arrive in the beautiful city of Caracas, Venezuela. There we will discuss a wide range of issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Then I will visit Ecuador. We have a busy schedule. Once again, we will focus on trilateral cooperation between Ecuador, Venezuela and Belarus.
We are working on other cooperation avenues, namely Nicaragua and Caribbean states. Hugo Chávez has done a lot to promote our dialogue with Brazil, Argentina, Chile. So to speak, he helped us pave the way to Latin America, acquainted us with the main players of this continent so that we could come to Latin America and establish cooperation. We have a lot to offer to Latin America.
The relations you have spoken about destroy preconceived ideas about interstate relations. But speaking about cooperation, I think, there are 140 projects in the Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation that are already underway. In your opinion, what can be added to them in the near future?
Yes, there are a lot of projects. And the biggest projects are the ones to construct plants in Venezuela. I should say, it was not only us who built these plants with our own hands. The main objective was as follows. Hugo Chávez asked me: “Please help build these plants using modern technologies and teach Venezuelans to work there”. These plants were mainly constructed by your people under the supervision of our specialists and engineers. Your people came to Belarus, learned how to build these plants in Belarus. We, in turn, trained specialists who will operate these plants.
He visited our big companies and said: “What if we had such facilities?” I told him: “What is the problem? Let us built them”. Thus, in two years we set up the plant to manufacture tractors, automobiles, road and construction equipment, bricks in Venezuela. We are ready to continue developing chemistry, petrol chemistry in Venezuela, building plants to produce household equipment, TV sets similar to those that exist in Belarus. We are ready to relocate them, build new plants in Venezuela.
But this is the second stage. We began with the main aspect, without which there can be to industry in Venezuela, there can be no economy. Is it possible to promote agriculture without tractors? It is impossible, especially, in such a big country as Venezuela. Can the country exist without automobile equipment, freight transportation? It cannot. Can we build houses without bricks? We cannot. The problem of housing is very important in Venezuela. Therefore, we started with these industries.
The projects to build an electric power plant, a heat power plant, gas pipelines, a lot of houses in Venezuela are in the pipeline.
Perhaps, if Venezuela is interested we will further develop the production of natural resources, including phosphorites. We are keen to produce nitrogen fertilizers in Venezuela. If we develop these facilities in your country (I mean the production of phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers), we will create a huge center to mix nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium fertilizers in Venezuela and sell them in entire Latin America, taking into account that we produce potassium fertilizers in Belarus. The demand for fertilizers is huge.
We have already launched the project to set up joint trading facilities in order to sell products we produce jointly with Venezuela. In order to manufacture goods in Caracas and sell them in Latin America, we create a vast logistics network.
We will participate in the upgrade of your facilities in all areas, not only in trade, industry, agriculture, but also in the military-technical industry. There are no closed topics in the cooperation between Venezuela and Belarus.
Of course, our main concern is agriculture. Hugo Chávez set the goal for us both. We should not import food to Venezuela. We should produce it in Venezuela. I agreed. And we started to create agricultural cooperatives and farms in Venezuela. The first farm of the kind becomes operational this year. I hope, in the future it will work at full capacity. This is an ultramodern enterprise to produce necessary food for Venezuela. Hugo Chávez and I are planning to open dozens of such farms in the country.
However, the country cannot develop without good education and science. According to Hugo Chávez, “Venezuela should have everything that you have, we need all your achievements in education (our education is very good) and science”.
He visited our leading universities. He met with many leading specialists of the Academy of Sciences. He pointed out the industries which are to be developed in Venezuela. I am working on it.
I want to reiterate that such relation between the two countries is not a ready commodity. But at the same time we should not forget that there are transnational corporations, governments who patronize them. Of course, they often dislike when the two countries, such as Belarus and Venezuela, become closer. They are concerned about it. What do you think about this problem?
This is right. There are those who dislike it. It happens not only because we are ideologically different. This is not the only reason.
Hugo Chávez and I are people of one ideology. Those who are against us propagate a different ideology. However, this is not the question of ideology. The problem is in the economy. Many corporations, countries and governments would like to have Venezuela as a source of raw materials thus it is dependent on others. They are not interested in the development of economy, industry, science, culture, education because Venezuela becomes absolutely independent. This is what global corporations want.
What is the importance of Venezuela for Belarus? Of course, our country has good economy, education, science. But we do not have natural resources which other countries have, including Venezuela. Thus, we depend of the import of raw materials from other countries. When we unite with Venezuela, there will be no dependence. Some do not like our economic independence. Therefore, we support each other. We are fraternal countries that do not have claims to each other. We do not have common history. Such countries create an alliance independent from other countries, relatively independent.
Moreover, dozens of countries like us. They are watching over our successes. Maybe, we will manage to create a new, independent alliance of counties. I do not mean that it will dictate terms in the world. No. There will be a club of friends who will protect their interests in the world.
However, one should bear in mind that when cooperating with Venezuela, Belarus also relies on such major world players as Russia, China, Iran, many countries in Asia and Africa. We have close ties with these countries. So one way or another, cooperation involves other powerful states, and this gives us confidence in the future .
This is the policy and the way of cooperation corporations and governments will have to take into account. I reiterate that w e are not against anyone. We are not going to interfere or fight with anyone. We want to ensure the independence and prosperity of our own states and peoples .
If we are together, if we are determined to realize our plans, nobody will make us change the way.
There are zones of influence in the world. I think, today some figures in the Middle East is trying to rewrite history of those countries, especially Arab and Mediterranean countries. They did it in Lybia, now, perhaps, they are going to use the same scenario to rewrite the history of Syria. Can you comment on the situation?
This is true that there are zones of influence of powers that be in the world. Let us assume that there are zones of influence of America, the European Union. But there are zones they cannot influence. They would like to turn these zones into the zones of influence. Indeed, they would like to rewrite history and bring these Arab states under total control. They want them to be under control in the future. Therefore, they started from the zones of influence.
It was as easy as ABC in Tunisia and Egypt. It was more difficult in Libya.
Perhaps, you noticed that they did not disturb Jordan Israel and others. They switched over to Syria. Previously they interfered with Iraq, then Iran. It is not so easy. Leadership of these countries started to resist. And the global community understood the essence of their plan. After the events in Libya and Egypt, some allies of those who try to put these countries into disorder realized that the result was different from what they expected. They understood that it was possible to negotiate with Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak. It will be much more difficult to come to an agreement or even talk to those who came to power in these countries. They got a dose of their own medicine.
It is still unclear what will be the outcome of the battle in this zone rich in hydrocarbons and resources.
But it is unclear today. Tomorrow these peoples will be independent, will win. They, but not someone without, will rule over their countries. These zones of influence, their zones will turn into the zones of influences of these countries. This is an objective process. It cannon be even slowed down.
Moreover, this process, these nations, for instance Syria, have a lot of influential friends to rely on. These are Russia, China, Iran. These countries are very rich. There is a conflict of interests of huge states in these zones of influence or non-influence. If this process does not stop, if it is not stopped, the outcome may be devastating for the entire world.
Three years ago my friend Hugo Chávez said: “Venezuela is a rich country. Due to our independent policy they will not leave us alone. And we should protect our riches, our state, our people and our independence. That is why, as difficult as it may be, I should form the Armed Forces able to protect Venezuela and its people”.
The issue of survival is important for Venezuela. Hugo Chávez, as a military man, realized it and did a lot in this field. I am well aware of this problem.
What you have just said characterizes the situation which exists between Venezuela and Columbia. A famous American congressman has devised Plan Columbia aimed at curbing drug smuggling from South America and particularly from Columbia. For this purpose, American troops should be stationed in the region. In fact, the United States have already deployed seven military bases in Columbia, the closest neighbour of Venezuela. This is how they react on our protest.
This is an important matter. It is their policy. It can be seen on the example of Afghanistan what such policy may result in. NATO launched the war in Afghanistan in order to create a zone of influence in the region under a glib excuse of fight against drug smuggling. What is the outcome? They virtually devastated the country but did not win.
Look at this problem with the eyes of Columbians. Do you think that all people in Columbia unanimously back the policy of the United States of America and other countries which are eager to have influence in the region? Of course, Columbia still depends on this policy, these states, which deploy military bases there.
But the Columbian people understand that it is dependence. Columbians, as well as Venezuelans and Ecuadorians want to live in independent countries. The Columbian elite understand and draw parallels with Afghanistan. They see what happened in Afghanistan. No one wants such future for Columbia. Therefore, the Columbian nation needs time to get rid of this dependence and start implementing the independent policy.
Today Columbia is surrounded by other states, namely Venezuela and Ecuador. Columbians see other policy. The example of Venezuela, Ecuador and other countries has an influence on the Columbian society. Thus, the leadership of Columbia and its people will have to take this example into consideration.
But we need to go our own way and demonstrate through peaceful means that the country can live in peace and accord and be an independent place, but not the springboard for holding neighboring countries under control.
The Columbian people realize that there is another danger. If you pose threat for other countries you are always under control, under attention of these states. Venezuela, Ecuador and other states will always aim at dangerous zones. Hardly will Columbia agree to live in a fishbowl of other countries. Hardly do the Columbian people agree to be the object of these views aimed at protecting dignity of peoples of Venezuela and Ecuador. Why should Columbia and the Columbian people be a base coin for superpowers? Why do big empires use Columbians to protect their interests? I think, we should take this into account.
Of course, we live in the world where everything is associated with communication technologies. When something happens it is made public immediately. I want to emphasize that this meeting, this interview is very important.
It is worth saying again that this cooperation is very important for the two countries.
It is a big pleasure to talk to you, such a great leader. You are like Hugo Chávez who never conceals anything, never uses roundabout words and always calls a spade a spade. It is very important to speak like that because the world is in financial, economic and other crises. The real crisis exists. But one should also take into account how it affects mass media. Thus, it is very important that you express your opinion of the matter, too.
You are absolutely right. Hugo Chávez and I are brothers because we are open. We are honest with our people, with other nations. We are determined to pursue this policy.
And this policy needs only time to win.
The policy of Hugo Chávez is the policy of the future. He is a great person. He showed the entire American nation living on two continents that one can think and live in a different way. One can live honestly and sincerely. This policy is invincible because it is fair.
As for Belarus, you should be confident that we will always be your friends. The Belarusian people are different from others because they remember those who do good.
Our policy is directed towards the future. We are eager to implement all our ideas. Please see the Russian version of this site for the verbatim of the interview.