The following is the speech given by Marcelino Medina González, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, to more than 200 guests at the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.
The First Deputy Minister and his delegation are on a working visit to Canada from March 4 to 6 for political consultations with Global Affairs Canada. First Deputy Minister Medina’s agenda included a visit to Quebec where he met with Sylvie Barcelo, Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations, La Francophonie and the Quebec-Cuba working group.
“Dear Mr. David Morrison, Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister, and guests.
“It is an honour to be here with you on this night of celebration of the 75th anniversary of uninterrupted bilateral relations between Canada and Cuba.
“We are pleased to have built strong and fruitful exchanges over these years in several sectors, in particular, in the economic-commercial area, culture and tourism.
“There is a long-standing tradition of people-to-people contacts between our two countries. Canada has established itself as Cuba’s main source market for tourists. For nine consecutive years, more than one million Canadian tourists have come to our country every year.
“Canada is one of our main business partners in the world and is one of the largest investors in our country. Official cooperation remains active with projects in priority sectors for the country’s economic and social development. Investments by major Canadian companies are found in the sectors of mining, energy, oil and gas, agri-food industry and tourism.
“The good state of our bilateral relations is based on mutual respect and sovereign equality. The political dialogue at different levels and the broad exchange of visits that have taken place in the last few years have allowed us to work together and to continue developing our relations for mutual benefit and to keep a constructive understanding, even when we have different points of view on some issues of the international agenda.
“Cubans shall not forget that Canada was among the few countries that didn’t break diplomatic relations with Cuba in the 1960s, we won’t forget that Canada has been there for us promoting relations with our country, even in difficult circumstances.
“We appreciate Canada’s strong position regarding the blockade by the United States and the implementation of extraterritorial measures; and against the implementation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which has damaged our people so much.
“We deeply appreciate the solidarity of the Canadian people towards our country in defense of our sovereignty. Many of the successes that our country has achieved in all these long years, would have not been possible without the support of solidarity organizations from around the globe, including the Canadian solidarity, a number of whose representatives are here.
“In the context of this celebration, we reiterate our willingness to keep on working to further expand, strengthen and diversify the political dialogue and bilateral ties with the Canadian government so that we can capitalize on all the potential both our countries have.
“We are certain that the Canadian government and the business community will continue to play a critical role in our country’s plans for economic development.
“In honour to the historic ties between our peoples and governments, I invite you to celebrate together the 75th anniversary of our relations.
Thank you very much.”
The speech given by First Deputy Minister Medina was first published on the website of the Embassy of Cuba in Canada.