Morales Defends Nationalization of Energy at EU-Latin America Summit

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday said he would defend his decision to nationalize his country's energy sector, as well as other natural resource industries, at summit talks with the European Union and other Latin American leaders.

"We don't have to negotiate, dialogue or talk (with other countries) whenever it comes to a policy that involves a sovereign decision of state," Morales told reporters ahead of the summit talks.

The EU, as well as other South American nations like Brazil, have been critical of Morales' decision to nationalize his energy sector.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, whose country holds the EU presidency said the EU would ask for clarification "on how these measures are implemented," and how they would affect investments made by European companies. "We need legal security and confidence, because these are the core topics for investors."

Morales gave assurances that if companies abided by Bolivian law, they would not have any problems with their investments in Bolivia.

He said his leftist government "would not limit" nationalization to just its oil and natural gas sector, but also other sectors as well, such as minerals and forestry resources.

"Before Bolivia was considered to be a no-mans land, now it belongs to its own people, particularly its indigenous peoples," Morales said. "We are about to defend our territory, defend our natural resources. The only way to combat poverty is by recovering our natural resources."