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Miguel Díaz-Canel, President of Cuba

Deep Friendship And Fraternity Between Two Nations

I felt great emotion, not just due to the warmth and friendliness of my official reception, but also due to the welcome I received from the people on the streets and boulevards traversed by the convoy of the Cuban delegation. The meeting at our Embassy with the Serbian Movement for Solidarity with Cuba, as well as with Cubans who are resident in this country, was another unforgettable moment during this visit ~ Miguel Diaz-Canel

Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel visited Serbia last summer, thereby ending a hiatus in top level bilateral visits that had lasted several decades. Noting that strong ties between the two countries had initially been forged by Josip Broz Tito and Fidel Castro, he said that the desire exists today to fortify that relationship on the basis of mutual trust, but also to expand cooperation to encompass multiple areas, including agriculture, healthcare, culture and sport. Speaking in this interview for CorD Magazine, the Cuban President said that his country will not change its stance opposing Kosovo’s unilaterally proclaimed independence.

Respected President Diaz-Canel, your recent visit to Serbia was announced as the first presidential visit in almost 40 years, while it also coincided with celebrations commemorating the 120th anniversary of bilateral relations between our two countries. How is Serbia viewed today from the perspective of Cuba?

— From the Cuban perspective, Serbia is a friendly country with which we maintain excellent political relations that we also work to strengthen. This is a nation with a government that works intensively to preserve its independence and territorial integrity, in defence of the interests of the people. It likewise exerts great efforts to maintain national and regional peace and stability and to achieve economic development under complex geopolitical conditions.

You seem to have been satisfied with the way you were received in Belgrade, and not only when it comes to the official reception. Did you really observe support from the people on the streets of Belgrade?

— I felt great emotion, not just due to the warmth and friendliness of my official reception, but also due to the welcome I received from the people on the streets and boulevards traversed by the convoy of the Cuban delegation.

Cuba will, in accordance with the norms of international law, maintain its principled position that’s based on respect for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia and its right to sovereignty over the whole of its territory

The meeting at our Embassy with the Serbian Movement for Solidarity with Cuba, as well as with Cubans who are resident in this country, was another unforgettable moment during this visit, and one that proved the deep friendship and fraternity between both peoples, support for Cuba against the blockade of the United States and the patriotic sentiment of the community in Serbia towards the Cuban people and nation.

A high level of understanding exists between Cuba and Serbia at the political level. How would you respond to calls from some world and European capitals insisting that countries that have recognised the independence of Kosovo must change their stance?

— Cuba will, in accordance with the norms of international law, maintain its principled position that’s based on respect for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia and its right to sovereignty over the whole of its territory.

You spoke in Belgrade about the need to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation. In which fields do you see the greatest opportunities to do so?

— The main fields in which opportunities exist to develop economic-commercial relations include agriculture, tourism, healthcare, the biopharmaceutical industry, science, culture and Cusport. The governmental agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture, which was signed in Belgrade during my visit, forms part of a series of agreements that have been signed in recent years with the aim of advancing bilateral cooperation.

President Aleksandar Vučić spoke of the possibility of Cuba being able to buy foodstuffs like wheat and corn in Serbia, which would enable us to diversify our sources for importing these products, after evaluating transport routes. In addition to this, encouragement was given to reinitiate the sessions of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission that used to exist between our two countries, in order to ensure the resumption of joint work in the noted sectors.

Serbian citizens have long been familiar with the scope of Cuba’s national healthcare system, but particularly since the period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you see opportunities to cooperate with Serbia in healthcare?

— Opportunities for cooperation in this area indeed exist, for example in primary healthcare and in providing medical services to patients suffering from lung cancer, medicines for the treatment of which are producing in our country.

We advocate for a diplomatic and realistic solution to the current crisis in Europe that would guarantee the security and sovereignty of all, and that would resolve genuine humanitarian problems

We maintain contacts with Serbian Health Minister Danica Grujičić, in order to evaluate the existing scope and characteristics of our cooperation, also doing so via agencies for the registration of medical treatments and medical devices, and through the biopharmaceutical industries of both countries.

What do you expect from the agreements that were signed by the Cuban and Serbian delegations during your visit and which relate to the lifting of travel visas for diplomats and cooperation in agricultural sectors?

— Those are two extremely important agreements, the successful concluding of which included intensive work on both sides, and I think they create many opportunities to develop cooperation between both countries.

From the Cuban perspective, how do you view the critical point of the European crisis that is Ukraine, which has the potential to escalate into a global conflict and is regularly being compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962?

— We can’t compare the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and the current global conflict, because their historical, geopolitical- economic and global contexts differ; while they each had their own causes and characteristics, and their development was different.

The conflict in Ukraine has serious international and regional security implications. The United States’ efforts to continue expanding NATO progressively towards the borders of the Russian Federation led to a scenario with unpredictable implications that could have been avoided.

Ever-increasing inflows of weapons, aggressive rhetoric and unilateral sanctions only contribute to deepening the causes of the conflict.

Cuba, as a country that defends international law, remains committed to the Charter of the United Nations and will always defend peace, rejects the unilateral sanctions against the Russian Federation and the intention to subject this country to isolation in international organisations.

We advocate for a diplomatic and realistic solution to the current crisis in Europe that would guarantee the security and sovereignty of all, and that would resolve genuine humanitarian problems.

COOPERATION

Opportunities for cooperation exist in primary healthcare and in providing medical services to patients suffering from lung cancer, medicines for the treatment of which we are producing

TRADE EXCHANGE

The main fields in which opportunities exist to develop economic-commercial relations include agriculture, tourism, healthcare, the biopharmaceutical industry, science, culture and sport

UKRAINE

We can’t compare the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and the current global conflict, because their historical, geopolitical-economic and global contexts differ