Erdogan Dispatches the Castroite Delegation at Full Speed

Díaz-Canel and Erdogan. (Cibercuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 24 November 2022 — And Cuban President Díaz-Canel arrived with his entourage to Turkey, including a photographer-reporter on the plane with a more sanchista (Pedro Sánchez)-than-Kennedy aesthetic. This is the third stop of the economic journey that began in Algeria. And of course, as could not be otherwise, the Cuban state press praised and described it as “very fruitful and encouraging” encounter with an unimproved President Erdogan, whose face reflected the serious hardships of the Turkish economy and the political instability of the country.

Let’s take this apart. Recent economic data from Turkey are not good. Inflation in October skyrocketed by 85.5% year-on-year; the unemployment rate, 12.8%, is among the highest in the world. These two data point to a population with low purchasing power with an average salary of 8,000 euros.

Foreign trade, strongly unbalanced by imports, has a coverage rate of 82%, with a trade deficit in GDP of -5.65%. And finally, economic growth throughout this year does not exceed 2.1%. Bad data for one country to offer economic collaboration with another. The rating agencies (Moody’s S&P, Fitch) grant Turkey a B, due to doubts about its financial capacity. As for political instability, the authorities still continue to investigate the terrible attack in Istanbul a few days ago, with notable repercussions for the country’s tourism.

So Díaz-Canel’s advisor, who planned this stage of the economic journey, must not have had access to these statistical data, and if he did, or he didn’t interpret them correctly, or someone told him to forget about them, then It’s not surprising that Díaz-Canel told Erdogan that “relationships between the two countries are maintained on the basis of respect, solidarity and cooperation, for the benefit of both peoples,” and went on to add that, in economic-commercial matters, “Cuba ratifies its willingness to continue working in sectors of mutual interest, such as biotechnology, renewable energies, tourism, agriculture, livestock, health, education, sports and culture.” Or what is the same, “give me something.” Doesn’t matter what, but give me something.

And it seems that Erdogan, with little time for this kind of begging, and driven from Russia by his ally, Putin, valued the visit as “historic” and announced that it will be “a turning point in the ties between the two countries.” But how, and with what?

It seems that he intends to achieve this with investments by Turkish companies already established in Cuba; in particular, with the technical support to the Island in cooperation projects associated with agricultural development, and the realization of joint investments to produce vaccines, taking into account that Cuba and Turkey are countries that have been able to develop their own treatments against COVID-19. And little else.

This offer from Erdogan, of a small amount and little real impact, resulted in the signing of six agreements, of which four are memorandums of understanding: two between the foreign ministries, a third between the central banks of both nations and a fourth between the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and the Turkish Agency for Cooperation and Coordination. Burocracy at full speed.

Erdogan quickly dispatched the Cuban communist delegation. No joke. And Díaz-Canel, seeking to extend the meeting, told the journalists who were waiting for him at the exit, that “we have just had official talks with President Erdogan. It has been a very fruitful and encouraging exchange, in which we have ratified the will to continue strengthening political relations between both countries.”

And coincidentally, no journalist asked him, as a suggestion, if what was addressed at this meeting could not have been agreed upon in a videoconference from Havana, thinking about the agonizing situation that Cubans live in. It doesn’t matter, no one asked about the cost of the trip and this delegation — as has already been seen before in Algeria and Russia — does not skimp on expenses.

Instead of hiding the waste of money for something that was already known to be agreed and closed, Díaz-Canel told journalists that “it’s an honor for us to be here and to be able to respond to the invitation given to us by the most excellent President Erdogan, to visit his country.”

And knowing that this argument for the invitation is limited, he added “it is also a great satisfaction to make this visit in the context of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, which have been maintained uninterruptedly on the basis of respect, solidarity and cooperation, for the benefit of both peoples.” More or less, the same. Superfluous expenditure. A videoconference would have been much more practical.

However, the journey through Turkey was once again pregnant with tourist events and of a low economic profile, such as the meeting of Díaz-Canel with members of the Cuba-Turkey José Martí Friendship Association, founded 20 years ago, and a counterpart to others in Europe, which receive the discreet support of the Cuban foreign ministries.

Díaz-Canel also visited, accompanied by his wife Liz Cuesta, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, and there he again declared something that is uncertain, “the Cuban and Turkish peoples are united by shared values, in recognition of the legacy of the founders of both nations.”

The state press reports that “the tribute had as its prelude a quiet walk along a long and wide path in which the sun reflected off the cream marble of the trail.” That is, more tourism paid for by the Cuban state budget.

Then the entourage entered the tower of Misak-I-Mili, where Díaz-Canel wrote in the book that collects the impressions of those who arrive to meet and pay honors with the consequent reference to Fidel Castro that he described as a “source of inspiration for the Cuban revolution.”

And little else remained to be done in Turkey, on a lightning visit that seems to have lasted much less than in the other two destinations. For whatever reason. Cuban communists don’t give something for nothing.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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