11 july 2012

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev meets with Raúl Castro, President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers of Cuba

“I think that in recent years we have significantly strengthened the potential of Russian-Cuban relations,” Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that “we must exploit the potential of our relations carefully and rationally.”

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Dmitry Medvedev: Esteemed Mr President! I am very glad that we are meeting again and that we have an opportunity to discuss various aspects of Russian-Cuban cooperation.

When we met in Brazil recently, we agreed on your visit to the Russian Federation. I am very glad that you are making this visit. We have good reason to exchange viewpoints and stances on current international issues, and our bilateral issues, of course. I have fond memories of my visit to Cuba, and your warm welcome, the reception you gave to the Russian delegation. I remember our unforgettable meeting in Zavidovo and your visit to Russia.

I think that in recent years we have significantly strengthened the potential of Russian-Cuban relations. The international economy and finance are in a very difficult situation. Unfortunately, there are very many contradictions in international relations, which influences and affects the domestic situation in our countries. With this in mind, I believe we must exploit the potential of our relations carefully and rationally, developing them both on the economic and humanitarian levels. We must hold regular consultations on all issues. Once again I warmly welcome you.

Raul Castro (through interpreter): Thank you very much, comrade Prime Minister Medvedev. I believe this meeting is very important, as it gives us the opportunity to continue the conversations we started during your tenure as Russian President and Vladimir Putin’s tenure as Prime Minister. We discussed the state of our relations, as well as a number of international issues. 

I would like to thank you, because at the summit in Rio, it was me who suggested this short working visit to Russia as it coincided with my trips to China and Vietnam and Russia is more or less on the way. And in just a few hours you responded positively to our proposal.

And now we are here, in the beautiful city of Moscow. I think it looks even younger now. I have visited Moscow at different times of the year, but winter is my favourite season here. We were in Moscow in the winter of 2009 and had an opportunity to share those moments with you. Since in Cuba it’s summer all year round, I wanted to take that opportunity to see the beauty of Moscow, which I was able to do on the way from the airport to the city.   

Our visit to China and Vietnam was very successful. Just as with Russia, we have been maintaining very good relations with these two countries over the past 50 years. And as I said, I just could not miss this opportunity to come to Russia, which is so dear to our hearts, and to meet with you.

Today at 10 a.m. I met with Army General Patrushev (Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council Secretary), and following our meeting here, I will be meeting with President Vladimir Putin. And at 6 p.m. I have a meeting with my first Soviet friend comrade Nikolai Leonov, whom I first met in 1953.

Back then he had just graduated from the Institute of International Relations and was about to start work at the Russian Embassy in Mexico. And I was a young university student attending a congress in Vienna, the capital of Austria. We stayed in the Russian zone there and that was the first time that I saw Soviet soldiers, most of them were Russians. We have been good friends ever since.    

I want to meet with him since we are both over 80 years old now and this may be our last opportunity to see one another. I want relations between the people of Cuba and Russia to be just as good as my friendship with Nikolai Leonov, so that we stick together both in good times and in bad times.     

Dmitry Medvedev: We will be always together. The only thing that I could not arrange for you this time, comrade President, is snow. It’s summer now. 

Raul Castro: Then I’ll see it on TV or will have to come to Russia in winter.

Dmitry Medvedev: As agreed, we are expecting you in Sochi for the Olympics.

Raul Castro: Thank you very much, I accept the invitation.