Russian FM rep on Russian-Cuban relations

Walter Lippmann walterlx at
Mon Mar 24 21:14:44 MST 2003

A RIA interview with the official spokesman
for the Russian Foreign Ministry,
Alexander Yakovenko, ahead of a visit to
Moscow by Foreign Minister
Felipe Perez Roque of Cuba


Q.: Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque of Cuba will be
visiting Moscow on March 22 through 25. What are the
relations between our two countries like nowadays?

A.: Cuba is one of Russia's key partners in Latin America.
We are satisfied with the fact that Russo-Cuban relations
are gaining momentum and becoming increasingly intensive and
that there is active political dialogue based on mutual
trust, as well as wide-ranging economic, cultural, and
scientific contacts.

We are nearly through with the adjustment of our cooperation
to the political and economic realities of the modern day.
We have been able to create favorable political
prerequisites for the advancement of the whole spectrum of
Russo-Cuban relations.

Bilateral political relations are on the rise. Since the
mid-1990s, we have exchanged many official visits at top and
senior levels; our foreign ministers have had yearly
meetings on the sidelines of UN General Assembly sessions.
The central event in the Russo-Cuban relationship in the
past decade has been President Vladimir Putin's Dec. 14-17,
2000 visit to Havana. And there have been six
foreign-ministerial meetings since 1996.

Of special importance to us are the ongoing bilateral
consultations between the two foreign ministries. These
consultations let us exchange views and coordinate actions
on the most pressing problems of the international and the
bilateral agendas.

We expect the forthcoming Moscow talks with Mr. Perez to let
us make headway in our key cooperation areas and to
demonstrate the importance of Russo-Cuban interaction as an
important factor of stability and predictability in the face
of modern global challenges.

Q.: In which areas is Russo-Cuban cooperation the most
intense now?

A.: Our economic and trade cooperation is a success. Cuba
ranks second, after Brazil, among Russia's trade partners in
Latin America. Our mutual trade reached 540 million dollars
in 2002.

Moscow does not think, however, that our economic
cooperation potential is being used to the full. Of much
importance in this connection are efforts, political and
economic alike, that are made by the Russo-Cuban
Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Scientific and
Technological Cooperation. By the way, the commission's next
session is tentatively set for the latter half of 2003.

Russia and Cuba maintain active dialogue on human rights.
They both deem it inadmissible to politicize related matters
and to use double standards in judging human rights abuses.
We attach a lot of importance to continued cooperation in
this area, including within the framework of the UN Human
Rights Commission's annual sessions.

Q.: How do Russia and Cuba interact in the international

A.: The two countries have similar or identical stances on a
whole number of global political issues. Most importantly,
they hold close views on the construction of a fair and
stable world order, one based on multi-polarity, on the
supremacy of the international law, and on the pivotal role
of the United Nations in maintaining world peace and
security. This is the premise for our approaches to
resolving conflicts and crises in hotspots across the globe,
including in the Gulf.

Our nations are both aware of the importance of
collaborative efforts in countering challenges and threats
of the new generation-such as global terrorism, drug
trafficking, and organized crime. The Russian side is
appreciative of Cuba's commitment to settling those
extremely acute problems of modern life. And it is
interested in further interaction, at the bilateral and the
multilateral basis alike.

Moscow praises Havana's meaningful activity in the
Non-Aligned Movement and its efforts to maintain the
organization as a neutral observer of world processes. In
this context, we regard the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in
Kuala Lumpur this past February as an indication of the
member nations' striving to find a niche in the new global
environment, relying on the time-tested principles of the UN
Charter. We are interested in promoting close cooperation
with Cuba, given its clout in the Non-Aligned Movement and
the fact that it will soon take over as that organization's

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