Valentina Matvienko: We will promote the implementation of Russian-Cuban projects and help develop ties between the regions in the two countries

The Federation Council Speaker met with President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko met with First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez. The officials discussed the main areas of bilateral cooperation.

Valentina Matvienko noted that the Cuban president’s visit to Moscow would give an impetus to the multifaceted strategic partnership of the two countries.

The Federation Council Speaker said the established trust-based ties between heads of state of the two countries were important for developing interstate cooperation.

“In conditions of unprecedented foreign pressure, the Cuban state continues, with dignity, to pursue its interests and make important changes. Millions of people in the world are inspired by the striving of Cubans for freedom and their resolve to uphold their own development path. We value long-term historical relations of friendship between our people,” emphasised Valentina Matvienko.

Regarding the unwavering support for the Cuban people, she mentioned the Federation Council’s statement adopted last November in support of the UN General Assembly’s anti-blockade resolution.

The president of Cuba emphasised the intensity of bilateral contacts and called for the expansion of the political dialogue. “Despite sanctions and restrictions related to the coronavirus, Russia and Cuba have preserved a high level in their relations and continue to build it up.”

Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez thanked the Federation Council for the solidarity in countering the blockade of Cuba. “We are also supporting Russia’s efforts towards a multipolar world,” he said.

The participants focused on inter-parliamentary interaction as a key element of interstate relations. Ms Matvienko noted the importance of the upcoming visit to Moscow by President of the National Assembly of People's Power, and Council of State of the Republic of Cuba Juan Esteban Lazo Hernandez.

Ms Matvienko said the MPs would continue promoting joint projects. She cited a successful example of their contribution – the introduction of an annual government quota of 100 education grants for Cuban students at Russian universities. The Speaker noted the Russian Government’s decision to integrate the 100 grants programme into its exclusive support measures for Cubans – transfers, monthly stipends, medical insurance, and dormitory residence into the national state system of grant support for foreign students.

Federation Council Speaker noted the Russian regions’ interest in promoting mutually beneficial ties with Cuba. To illustrate this, she mentioned the participation of Russian companies and regions in the FIHAV 2022 HAVANA International Fair held in Cuba last November.

The President of Cuba mentioned the effort to identify additional opportunities for Russian business investment in the Cuban economy.

The officials also emphasised the big role of the Intergovernmental Russian-Cuban Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation in developing bilateral relations.

Valentina Matvienko considers it important to develop a long-term pattern of cooperation that is immune to foreign influence, which will take into account mutual interests and ensure Cuba’s energy and food security.

She noted the common approaches of the two countries to key issues of world politics and thanked the President of Cuba for his clear position on the developments around Russia. She described it as a “fair, honest and open position that corresponds to the spirit of our relations.”

Speaking about humanitarian assistance, Valentina Matvienko underscored Russia's initiative to establish Russian university affiliates and network university consortiums, a so-called Russian education hub in Latin America. “The Russian Ministry of Education and Science is reviewing an opportunity to create this hub in Cuba where Russian universities are actively operating and have affiliates,” she said.

The Speaker noted that the resumption of direct air service to Varadero and Cayo Coco in October 2022 would promote the development of tourism.

The meeting was attended by Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Grigory Karasin, the head of the group on cooperation of the Federation Council with the Cuban National Assembly of People's Power and Chair of the Committee on the Federal Structure, Regional Policies, Local Self-Government and Northern Affairs Andrey Shevchenko, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security Viktor Bondarev, Chair of the Federation Council Committee on the Rules of Procedure and Parliamentary Governance Vyacheslav Timchenko, member of the Federation Council Committee on the Federal Structure, Regional Policies, Local Self-Government and Northern Affairs Denis Gusev, member of the Federation Council Committee on the Budget and Financial Markets Vadim Dengin and member of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy Olga Khokhlova.

Ms Matvienko and Mr Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez opened an exhibition of Russian paintings “Oh Havana! Transit…” devoted to the 500th anniversary of Havana and a date in bilateral diplomatic relations.

The Speaker said this project was a graphic result of close Russian-Cuban humanitarian contacts and productive cooperation over many years. The exhibition, that travelled to 18 Russian cities and attended by more than a million people, promotes friendship. The Federation Council will promote our cooperation in culture,” Ms Matvienko said.

Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez added that such events reflect the solidarity, friendship and historical ties that unite Russia and Cuba.