Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro paid a one-day visit to Belarus on 5 October. He met with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko to discuss old agreements and new prospects.
He also took part in the opening of a monument and received some fancy gifts.
Past economic cooperation and its recovery
After formal greetings, the two leaders recalled how fruitful Belarusian-Venezuelan cooperation was in the past and urged its restoration.
According to Alexander Lukashenko, the goal of the meeting between the two presidents was to make a new step in the development of relations.
“We are ready for it,” Lukashenko said.
Maduro, in his turn, remarked that Belarus and Venezuela are not starting from scratch:
“We are entering a new stage. We have strong trust in each other in all the areas, including in food production, agriculture, industry, trade and housing construction.”
In 2016, the trade turnover between Belarus and Venezuela plummeted by 92.6% to $2 million. The main export items were medicines (805.6 thousand dollars) and flour (768.3 thousand dollars).
This year showed some growth. In January-July 2017 Belarusian exports amounted to 5.2 million, including $4.8 million of potash fertilizers export.
Two years and a commission for action plan
Belarus President believes two years will be enough to build up cooperation with Venezuela.
“The export-import ties of Belarus and Venezuela are lagging behind the previous level due to many reasons which do not depend on Venezuela and Belarus,” Lukashenko was quoted by BelTA.
“But the potential of the two countries gives us an opportunity to bolster our relations… First results will be seen within two years, within five years we will try to solve existing problems.”
Alexander Lukashenko noted that a joint commission would reconvene in Minsk in November after a long pause. It will develop an action plan for projects between the two states.
“I am ready to fly to Venezuela to discuss and confirm this plan,” Belarus head said. But the work should start immediately, he added.
Belarusian agrotowns in Venezuela
Venezuela asked Belarus to design five more agrotowns.
The program of construction started a few years ago, Belarusian Agriculture and Food Minister Leonid Zayats told the media.
Belarusian specialists put up 176 residential buildings, built over 20km of roads, and cleared 2,500ha of land from shrubs. However, only one fifth of the program has been fulfilled.
“In order to complete the project Venezuela needs to show its will. Also, funding is necessary,” the Belarusian official said.
The project includes the construction of dairy and poultry farms, a meat-processing plant, milk-processing enterprises, and other facilities.
Simon Bolivar’s sculpture
The cultural part of President’s Maduro visit included opening of a bust of Simon Bolivar in the namesake garden in Minsk.
Representatives of the Belarusian government, the diplomatic corps, and the military attaches representing Latin American countries were invited to attend the unveiling of the Simon Bolivar monument on 5 October.
The sculpure of Bolivar is a gift from Venezuela in honor of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Belarus.
The ceremony was short but crowded – students of several universities were invited to take part in it, too.
Mir Castle and linen as gifts
After the official part the leaders moved to a less formal part and exchanged gifts.
Nicolas Maduro got a tapestry of Mir Castle while his wife was presented with a set of embroidered table linen.
Alexander Lukashenko received a picture with a view of Caracas as a present.
“We will hang it in the Palace of Independence next to Chavez’s gift,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
And, of course, there was the traditional tree-planting ceremony.