Cuba hopes to reopen consulate in Russia’s second city

Cuba would like to reopen its consulate general in St. Petersburg, Russia, Cuban Ambassador Emilio Lozada García said during a meeting Thursday (May 22) with the mayor of that city, Georgi Poltavchenko.

Cuban Ambassador Emilio Lozada García with St. Petersburg mayor Georgi Poltavchenko. (Photo courtesy of the mayor's office.)
Cuban Ambassador Emilio Lozada García with St. Petersburg mayor Georgi Poltavchenko. (Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office.)

“St. Petersburg is an important city for us. We would like our relations to remain at a high level. We do not exclude the possibility of reopening the consulate general in St. Petersburg,” Lozada said, quoted by The St. Petersburg Journal. “It all depends on the question of finances.”

A Cuban consulate in St. Petersburg closed down when the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991. Cuba has a consulate in Moscow, in the same building as its embassy.

Cuba would also like to open a tourism office, preferably in the same building as the consulate, Lozada said. Official figures from Havana show that 70,401 Russians visited the island in 2013.

The head of St. Petersburg’s Municipal Committee for Tourism Development, Inna Shalyto, assured Lozada that the city government will support the idea. Deputy Mayor Oleg Markov expressed the hope that direct, nonstop air traffic will eventually link his city and Havana.

St. Petersburg “is ready to consider the proposal, find room [for the consulate] and provide preferential conditions for the lease,” said Poltavchenko, who is both mayor and governor of the city. “Thirty years ago, Santiago de Cuba became our sister city. And in 2000 we signed a memorandum of friendship and cooperation with Havana. Petersburg is ready to further develop those relations. We have an opportunity to establish extensive cooperation.”

Lozada invited his host to visit Santiago de Cuba. The mayor accepted and said he will send a small working group first and a large government delegation later.

The meeting was held in the framework of the 2014 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (PMEF), which was inaugurated on Thursday (May 22). The Forum is the largest business gathering in northern Russia.

Known as Leningrad until 1991, St. Petersburg (pop. 5 million) is Russia’s second-largest city, after Moscow. It is also considered to be Russia’s cultural capital.

On Wednesday, Lozada met with the Speaker of St. Petersburg’s Parliament, Vyacheslav Makarov, to discuss the resumption of interparliamentary cooperation.

Thursday’s program of the Forum was devoted to trade between Russia and Latin America. Delegations from Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua were present.

[PHOTO SHOWS: St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and renowned as its cultural capital, lies on the River Neva.]