Ortega, Medvedev renew Soviet-era ties

19.12.2008 - 08:00

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on December 18 on his first visit to Moscow in over two decades. “Russia wants to build robust, full-fledged and long-term relations with all of Latin America and such important partners as Nicaragua, in particular,” Medvedev said.

The meeting of the two Presidents comes after Medvedev's recent tour of the Latin American countries during which the Russian President tried to revive ties that existed between the Soviet Union and several countries in Central and Latin America. Ortega, 63, was a firm ally of the Soviet Union after gaining the presidency and fending off US-backed efforts to unseat him in the 1980s. He left office in 1990, but was re-elected in 2006.

Memorandums of understanding were adopted between the countries' agriculture ministries, and between the Russian Federal Space Agency and Nicaragua's Telecommunications and Postal Service Institute (Telcor). Several other departments of the two countries also signed agreements.

Medvedev said after the talks that the main goal in bilateral affairs is to develop trade and economic ties. "Over recent years, trade has considerably declined," while in Soviet times trade totaled hundreds of millions of dollars, Medvedev said, RIA Novosti reported. "Our task is to give an impetus to the development of economic relations, from a new basis."

Medvedev and Ortega said in a joint statement released after the meeting that the Russian president accepted the Nicaraguan president's proposal to study the possibilities of participation by Russia's state and private sectors in an enterprise to build an inter-ocean canal in Nicaragua. The proposed canal would be able to accommodate ships larger than those that can pass through the Panama canal even after its enlargement.

During the meeting with Ortega on December 18, Medvedev pledged Russian support for Nicaragua and investment particularly in the country's oil and gas drilling sector.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin also told reporters that Russia plans to develop hydro and geothermal power in Nicaragua.

The statement also said Medvedev had accepted an invitation from his Nicaraguan counterpart to pay an official visit to the country. Last week, Russia sent three warships to dock in Nicaragua's harbors in order to secure the country's waters from possible threats. Nicaragua is the only country other than Russia to have recognised the rebel regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after a war this summer. Moscow's offensive was condemned by Western countries.