Azerbaijan, Baku, 13 November / Trend corr. R.Novruzov / Interview of Trend with Deputy Director for European Affairs at Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs Santiago Perez Benitez:
Question: What is your estimate to the further development of relations between Cuba and Azerbaijan? What are the prospects of relations from economic and political standpoint?
Answer: I think that we do have solid prospects of relations between Cuba and Azerbaijan. But before going to the future I would like to go to the past. We have a very solid fundament for relations between Cuba and Azerbaijan. There were so many Cubans who studied in Azerbaijan, and so many Azerbaijani specialists who work in Cuba. All that has created mutual sympathies between Cuban and Azerbaijani people. In September 2006 there was the visit of Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, to Cuba. And I think that from that point on it has been quite quick and solid development of our bilateral relations. There was taken a decision of opening an embassy of Azerbaijan in Havana and Cuban embassy in Baku. And I think that the opening of those embassies have made an impulse on our bilateral relations.
This visit of mine here is a part of inter-ministerial consultations. We are planning to have the second joint session of the intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation. The first one was made last year in Havana. So, it was the beginning of the joint session mechanism. We are regarding different aspects in economic cooperation. We are regarding the economic cooperation the field of tourism. There is to be the visit of the minister of culture and tourism of Azerbaijan to Cuba. We are interested in exchange of views with Azerbaijani authorities in the field of tourism. We would be very glad if there were investments of Azerbaijan in Cuban industry which is very rapidly developing. We are very much interested in the field of energy. I would say that 70 percent of Cuban energy cadres for the oil and gas industry were prepared here in Azerbaijan.
Question: What meetings have you held in Azerbaijan?
Answer: My visit is part of the regular inter-ministerial cooperation and consultations between Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I would have some interviews here in your ministry to exchange views on the international agenda and also in the field of bilateral cooperation. We give very much importance to the existing mechanisms. We do not want to have only episodic relations with Azerbaijan. We are very much interested in long-term cooperation, long-term strategic relationships.
Question: What is the position of official Havana on settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan?
Answer: We have always said officially that we support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Cuba, as majority of the international community, is in favor of peaceful solution of this conflict.
Question: Is there any work between Azerbaijan and Cuba so that Azerbaijan could support Cuba at UN on lifting the US embargo?
Answer: We are very much grateful to Azerbaijan for support. During these years we have presented 17 times this resolution. It is a resolution against the economic and financial blockade of the United States towards Cuba. We have received the support of 185 countries in the world, including Azerbaijan, who have supported Cuba, because our point is that it is not a bilateral issue between the United States and Cuba. Mainly it is an international problem, because the US Government is having a lot of extraterritorial reach within this blockade. They are after Cuban transactions with our partners all over the world; they are making a lot of pressures to financial institutions not to lend anything to Cuba. The United States tried to isolate Cuba by this embargo. Remember, 185 countries, while there are 192 countries in the world, supported Cuba. This is a signal to the US Administration that they have to change. Cuba is a small country which is opposing one of the biggest countries in the world, and we do not give up.
The correspondent can be contacted at email@example.com