Sunday, 14 July 2013. PDF Print E-mail
Open door for cooperation between Serbia and Cuba in the medical and pharmaceutical fields
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Ivan MrkicSerbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivan Mrkic paid an official visit to Cuba last week, after it had been postponed several times. Great importance has been attached to this visit, since this was the first bilateral visit paid by Minister Mrkic to a Latin American country and the first bilateral visit by Serbian Government officials to Havana. During the two-day visit, Serbian Foreign Minister was received by Cuban Vice President, President of the Parliament, Minister of Foreign Trade and Investments, whereas his host was the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The talks between Foreign Minister Mrkic and Cuban officials were specific and focused on projects aimed at benefiting both countries, primarily in the fields of medicine, pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, agriculture and economy. The result of the visit by Serbian Foreign Minister to Havana was reaching an agreement on the exchange of visits by trade delegations of the two countries, finalization of a number of agreements facilitating cooperation in the areas of health, fight against illicit drug trafficking, justice and culture. Plans were made regarding Serbia's participation at the forthcoming trade fair in Havana, to be attended by companies from more than 70 countries. Preparations were made for Serbia's accelerated participation in significant projects on the treatment of cancer, diabetes, etc.

Cuba is one of the leading countries in genetic engineering and biotechnology research, because its achievements in these areas are extraordinary and recognized world-wide. The scientific results accomplished in this area are Cuba's major export product, generating considerable revenue. Earnings from medical products and services exceed those from sugar cane exports. Cuban scientists have created a drug against gangrene, whose application would dramatically reduce the number of amputations in Serbian hospitals, caused by this serious disease. Currently, some 4,000 such interventions are carried out in Serbia, annually. Cancer-treatment drugs are made available in Serbia through various uncontrolled channels, accompanied by a multitude of undesirable consequences suffered by our patients, because of the lack of an insight by the state into the procurement system. The possibilities of cooperation between Cuban and Serbian scientists aimed at ensuring joint production of medication against the most serious diseases were also discussed.

The visit provided an opportunity for seeking specific terms and conditions for the purpose of settlement of Cuban debt to Serbian companies, through possible joint venture agreements.

The visit was realized in line with Serbia's foreign policy commitment to strengthen its cooperation with Latin American countries. It took place in the framework of the activities initiated through the participation of Serbia's highest-level delegation, headed by President of the Republic Tomislav Nikolic, in the First Summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the EU, held in Santiago, in January 2013. The holding of this meeting affirmed the interest on the part of the EU and its individual Member States to promote their cooperation with the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is globally recognized by its surging economic growth and political relevance. This is where Serbia also sees its own interests, particularly in view of its positive heritage in the relations with these countries. Politically very important is the support of these countries – 33 of them, to Serbia's positions regarding Kosovo and Metohija, because practically one third (21 countries) have not recognized the independence of Kosovo.

Cuba is a country of indisputable political authority in the regional frameworks; it is the current Chair of CELAC and an active member of regional groups like ALBA, ACS, ALADI. Its position serves as a reference to many states in the region when taking their stand towards the issue of Kosovo and Metohija.

Cuba has been a tested friend of Serbian people over a number of decades, including the period when Serbia was bombed. Together with other Latin American countries, Cuba is undergoing historical socio-political and economic changes, which enables us to make a strong appearance on that continent, particularly in the economic area.

We celebrated, a few days ago, the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations with Cuba, marked in Serbia by a number of joint activities and cultural events.