Cuban Television: After the first personal contacts and official negotiations and after signing the documents, to what extent have the hopes you pinned on this meeting been fulfilled? And what issues have still to be discussed?
Vladimir Putin: This was not our first meeting. The first time I met the Cuban leader was in New York some time ago, and we had a chance then to cover practically all the problems facing our states. I think all the expectations with which we have come here have been fulfilled. They have been fulfilled because our experts have prepared good documents and, as you see, everything has been signed and everything went without a hitch. I think these documents are very important. They include the Protocol on Mutual Trade, the Treaty on Legal Assistance and the Treaty on Credit Relations. In general, everything we have planned has been fulfilled. We agreed on some very important things during the talks, in the process of negotiations today. We agreed that proceeding from good will and a high level of relations between our states, relations between Cuba and the Russian Federation would be based on the principles of international law, mutual benefit and respect of sovereignty. This is of fundamental importance. Also importantly, we have agreed to give a new impetus to work on the outstanding issues that have piled up during the past years. We should have a clear idea of what part of our relations has a future and what can be regarded as problems of yesterday. We should identify the most effective and interesting common ground and not only the most interesting individual projects, but areas of bilateral cooperation. I am sure that the meetings with the Cuban leader today and tomorrow will contribute to solving that task. So, I would like to repeat that we are very satisfied with what we have done during our work in Havana so far. Thank you.
Granma: You have voiced your objection to the uni-polar world. How can Russia contribute to ensuring a multi-polar character of international relations?
Vladimir Putin: Unipolarity, which we so actively and very reasonably oppose, is nothing but an attempt to monopolise international relations, an attempt to establish absolute domination in international relations. Such attempts happened more than once in world history. World history offers many such examples. How they all ended is well known. We are absolutely convinced that there can be no monopoly on world domination in the modern world. I am sure this position is shared by an overwhelming majority of international players. On this we have the support of a significant number – if not all – of Latin American countries, including Cuba. We believe that our active cooperation on the issue can and will contribute to creating a democratic world order today. This position has a historical future, and we count on constructive interaction on the issue with our Cuban friends.
Interfax: Mr Castro, Mr Putin, Russian-Cuban relations have been far from ideal in recent years. How do you see our relations in the 21st century, by what principles will they be guided and, if I may ask, how did the negotiations go on a purely personal level?
Vladimir Putin: You have said that the level of relations between Russia and Cuba has recently not been high. Well, yes and no. Our mutual trade has reached almost $1 billion, 930 million to be exact. This is not so bad for relations between Russia and Cuba. But there are also questions that call for particularly close attention to resolve them. Problems have accumulated over the past 10 years. They stem from the fact that in the past the Soviet Union invested heavily in the Cuban economy. Many unfinished projects have remained, costing billions of dollars. We should make up our minds what to do about it, and Russia’s policy will be aimed at bridging the gap between the so-called “golden billion” and the rest of humankind. In other words, we will approach such issues with due account of the high level of relations between Russia and Cuba and the traditional friendship between our countries. To be sure, we will build our relations – as we are going to tell the Cuban leadership – proceeding not only from the fundamental principles of international law, but using all the modern financial, technological and other instruments. We will build our relations as sovereign states on the basis of the instruments that other states use in their mutual relations. I am sure that, given respect for mutual interests, we will succeed. I have not the slightest doubt about it.