Venezuelan leader Chavez declares Belarus strategic alliance

Venezuela's president said Tuesday his country and Belarus had established a strategic alliance.

The outspoken South American leader is on a tour of eastern Europe in a bid to expand ties with the region, which is home to some of the world's leading defense-industry plants and has considerable mineral wealth.

"In [these] two fruitful days, we have created a real strategic alliance between our countries," Hugo Chavez told an audience at Belarus's military academy on the last day of his visit.

Chavez, who was elected president in 1998, said cooperation in technology, industry, energy and the military sphere could be built up.

"It is vital to defend the homeland to counter external and internal threats to national projects

that imperialists are worried about because they are successful," Chavez said, adding that the two countries' national projects were designed to create a multipolar world.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in turn said Belarus and Venezuela had many common interests and one main goal: to raise their living standards and ensure peaceful conditions to implement creative plans.

"A natural urge to depart from the unipolar model of the global order to a community of equal partners is becoming an irresistible consolidating factor," said Lukashenko.

The controversial leader, who like Chavez has often been criticized by Washington, said similar political transformations based upon the interests of the people rather than those of transnational corporations were under way in both countries.

"They are trying to impose on us an alien ideology and morals, pseudo-economic reforms resulting in the population growing poor for the sake of a bunch of fat cats," Lukashenko said.

He said when people opposed this tendency, the country was usually accused of a lack of democracy and human rights abuses.

Lukashenko said he hoped Venezuela and Belarus would implement all their plans in the interests of both countries' development and prosperity.

Upon completing his visit to Belarus, Chavez will continue his tour with a visit to Russia.

[Source: Russian Information Agency (Novosti), Minks, 25Jul06]

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