9 March 2013, 18:37

Choice of next leader ‘up to Venezuelans’ – Lavrov

Choice of next leader ‘up to Venezuelans’ – Lavrov

Hugo Chavez will remain a towering figure in history, and his legacy will help Russia, of which he was a great friend, and Latin America, where he exerted a powerful influence, build exchanges and ties in all fields.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about this in an interview with Russian national television Saturday after attending a Caracas memorial for the deceased Venezuelan President:

"Russian companies eye opportunities around the world and see Latin American countries, both big and small, as potential investment paradises. Earlier this week, I held my annual meeting with the Russia Ambassadors of Latin American and Caribbean countries. I got an impression that their countries would welcome deeper Russian involvement in their economies."

Hugo Chavez was a powerful promoter of cooperation between Russia and Latin American nations. This resulted in foreign policy proximity and rapid progress on a number of projects in the economy.

Mr Lavrov again:

"Under Chavez, Russia made long-term investments in Venezuela’s oil, gas, mining and defence industries. Developments of this kind make for good relations between states. This equally applies to Russia’s relations with Venezuela and any other world nation."

Venezuela has already sworn in Chavez’s chosen successor Nicolas Maduro as interim President. Early presidential elections are to be scheduled within 30 days. Maduro’s main challenger will be the opposition leader Henrique Capriles. He denies legitimacy to Maduro’s appointment, arguing that the Venezuelan people have never voted for Maduro.

Sergey Lavrov said he is looking forward to fair play in the elections:

"Importantly, joining the chorus of condolences over Chavez’s death, Capriles said that he was a rival, not a foe of the late Venezuelan President. This inspires hope that the campaigning and the elections themselves will unfold and proceed in accordance with the law and the principle of mutual respect."

Russia, Mt Lavrov said, will respect the choice of the Venezuelan people and hopes that other nations will not try to influence Venezuela’s electoral process to their political or economic gain. Moscow is prepared to build productive cooperation with whoever succeeds Hugo Chavez.

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