MOSCOW, RUSSIA.- Official talks between Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of unquestionable importance, took place in the Great Kremlin Palace.
Greetings from Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, were conveyed by President Díaz-Canel to the leader of this sister nation.
Following the private meeting between the two delegations, the two heads of state signed a joint statement on common positions in the international arena, reflecting the two governments’ high level of agreement on bilateral and global issues. Aspects of the political, economic, and social situation were addressed, as well.
“We propose increasing economic, commercial, and financial ties with the Russian Federation to the excellent level of our political relations,” Díaz-Canel commented to the press, in attendance for the occasion.
“Joint economic projects in the sectors of energy, transportation, metallurgy, and biotechnology are key to our plans for economic development, and still bear great potential,” he indicated.
Díaz-Canel described the talks with President Putin as useful, adding, “They allowed us to confirm the excellent state of bilateral relations.”
He recalled Putin’s productive 2014 visit to Cuba, and noted, “The high level exchanges have been consolidated and broadened,” reflecting the priority which both countries give to these bilateral relations and the intention to continue developing them.
“We are pleased with the level of agreement regarding different issues on the international agenda, particularly the defense of peace and the role of international institutions,” he stressed.
This visit, he said, has great significance for Cuba, “A visit, above all, to convey that within our concept of the continuity of the Cuban Revolution, true to the legacy of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz and Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, also present is the continuity and ongoing strengthening of relations between Cuba and Russia.”
Evoking the deep friendship shared by the two peoples for years, he stated, “I am sure that these conversations will mark a milestone in the development of our relations.”
He recalled that, precisely upon his arrival in Russia, “the first country to support Cuba in confronting the blockade,” the delegation received news of the UN victory, “giving the visit a special meaning.”
The Cuban President added, “I believe that at times chance historical coincidences also mark very important moments for everyone.”
He thanked the Russian government for its firm position against the U.S. economic, commercial, and financial blockade, and went on to emphasize the willingness expressed by President Putin to support the economic updating process underway in Cuba, reflected in the effective participation of the Russian government and enterprises in sectors of key importance to our development plans through 2030 and beyond.
Lastly, he reiterated the invitation to President Putin to make an official visit to Cuba next year, five years after his last trip to the island.
In his remarks, the Russian leader referred to “the holding of negotiations in a constructive, efficient, friendly manner,” which he stated, is “characteristic of talks between Russia and Cuba. Our peoples are traditionally united by ties of friendship, affection, mutual respect, and solidarity.”
He continued saying that the two leaders had assumed the responsibility to “adopt concrete measures to increase trade and expand cooperation in the area of investments,” emphasizing positive experiences in energy, industry, pharmaceuticals, and transportation, including the modernization of Cuba’s railroad system.
“We are ready to support the training of highly qualified Cuban professionals in different fields,” he stated.
He recognized Cuba as a popular destination for Russian tourists, with thousands visiting the island last year.
Referring to the regional and international agenda, Putin reaffirmed the similar visions of the two governments on the majority of key issues, confirming the mutual interest in continuing to coordinate actions in the international arena.
“Russia and Cuba have always advocated for adherence to all key principles of international law established in the UN Charter, including respect for the sovereignty and interests of all states, and the inadmissibility of the use of force, as well as the imposition of unilateral sanctions, and interference in the domestic affairs of a country,” he recalled.
The Russian head of state likewise stressed the country’s intention to expand dialogue with regional organizations and integration associations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A highlight of the day was the conviction of both countries, reaffirmed by President Putin, that “What was agreed upon here will promote cooperation and our ties.”
A FRATERNAL MEETING
November 2 in Moscow was as busy as his days in Cuba for President Díaz-Canel, with several bilateral meetings taking place.
The Russian Federation State Duma – the lower house of the Russian legislature – was the first meeting place, where he held talks with Viacheslav Volodin, chairman of this body. Cuba is grateful to the Duma for several resolutions it has adopted against the U.S. blockade, and others calling for the freedom of our Five Heroes and supporting many other causes.
Díaz-Canel described the meeting in a tweet as another good opportunity to strengthen parliamentary relations.
It was, in fact, Viacheslav Volodin who led the Russian Federation delegation that joined Cubans to mourn the death of Fidel. He spoke in the Plaza de la Revolución at that time, saying, “Fidel has become a symbol of the struggle of many peoples, a struggle that culminated in success. We have the duty to recall that it is thanks to him that Cuba has been able to preserve the most valuable asset any state can have: its independence.
“Fidel’s contribution to the establishment and development of relations between Russia and Cuba is immense. Despite the distances that separate us, despite the problems we have faced, we have been, are, and will be united.”After this meeting came one with Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. A fraternal encounter which served to strengthen the relations that unite this Party and ours.
Around noon, Díaz-Canel was received in the headquarters of the parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, by its speaker Valentina Matviyenko, who welcomed the Cuban President and his delegation saying, “Russia has always held cordial feelings toward the glorious people of Cuba and we will be close forever.”
Díaz-Canel responded saying that her words were very much appreciated, “since we know they come from someone who loves Cuba and has shown this during her efforts leading the Federation Council,” adding, “Russia continues to be a beloved land and we consider the Russian people a sister people.”
A REQUIRED TRIBUTE OUTSIDE THE KREMLIN
“Your name is unknown, your achievement immortal,” reads the granite plaque alongside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Moscow, a few meters from the Kremlin’s walls, visited by President Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and the delegation accompanying him on his international tour.
This is a required tribute, a solemn walk in reverence to history, to the heroism of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives in the struggle against fascism in WWII.
The delegation advanced in front of exquisitely uniformed soldiers, as a somber melody was played, evoking memories of the war’s feats and battles, to honor the honorable, courageous men who made history,
First a floral wreath was placed by the President alongside the monument, then came a moment of silence, and finally, once again the notes of Cuba’s national anthem were heard in Moscow.
Thus, as the monument’s eternal flame flickered in the centre of a bronze star, the emotion erased awareness of the frigid temperatures the delegation had experienced throughout their days in this sister nation.
The Honor Guard marched away, and then the President and his delegation retired as well. As they left, in the background the notes of the July 26 Movement March could be heard, and once again everyone was moved, reminded of the deep ties that unite our people. This visit to an emblematic site was another demonstration of that friendship.