MOSCOW – Visiting Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev said on Thursday that their two countries have embarked on a new phase in bilateral relations.
“It is the first visit of an Ecuadorian president to Russia,” Correa said at the Kremlin after the two heads of state signed what he described as “historic, tremendously important” agreements.
And he urged closer links between Latin America and Russia, saying: “We have been very distant from each other and it’s time to recover the time lost.”
In his comments, Medvedev hailed Ecuador as one of Russia’s “most important partners in Latin America” and said he was certain Correa’s visit “will provide a new impetus” to links between Moscow and Quito.
Noting that bilateral trade reached $1 billion last year, he said he discussed with Correa to need to “optimize” commercial exchange.
Medvedev did not hide his eagerness to sell Russian armaments to Ecuador and said he hoped the contract signed Thursday for the sale of two Mi-171E helicopters to the Ecuadorian army would be “just the start” of “technical-military cooperation” between the two nations.
The Russian leader also hailed an impending agreement to eliminate visa requirements for citizens of each country who wish to travel to the other.
Medvedev said his government and Correa’s see eye-to-eye on international issues and he expressed gratitude to Moscow’s “Ecuadorian partners for their understanding regarding some (Russian) concerns.”
Though the Russian didn’t elaborate, media reports this week suggest that Ecuador is preparing to join Venezuela and Nicaragua in recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two regions that declared independence from Georgia after Tbilisi’s August 2008 armed conflict with Moscow.
The declaration accompanying the accords signed Thursday stresses that the strategic partnership between Russia and Ecuador is not aimed at any state or groups of states, and that it does not herald creation of a military alliance.
Even so, the two countries say they plan to bolster cooperation “in the ambit of security and defense, in particular through active consultations among the relevant institutions.”
On the economic front, Quito and Moscow urge the creation of binational joint ventures and pledge to forge closer connections between their respective banking systems.
Another pact concerns nuclear power, while a memorandum of understanding covers energy cooperation between the two oil-producing nations.
The Russian consortium Rostekhnologii and Ecuador’s Telecommunications Ministry also signed a preliminary agreement on the development of fourth-generation WiMAX mobile phone technology in the South American country. EFE