Diplomacy&Beyond: Julio César Cancio Ferrer

Diplomacy & Beyond talk series hosted H.E. Julio César Cancio Ferrer, ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The discussion was moderated by Beatriz Isaac. The topics of the talk were concentrated on career in diplomacy, the importance of cultural diplomacy, Cuban-US and Cuban-Hungarian relations.

Number of participants: 37

Date: 22 March 2016 | Tue | 6 pm

Venue: Kodolányi János University of Applied Sciences (1139 Budapest, Frangepán u. 50–56.)

Photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1138920726172275.1073741835.389448327786189&type=3

Summary: On 22nd March 2016, Institute for Cultural Relations Policy in partnership with Kodolányi János University continued its series of Diplomacy & Beyond events by inviting Julio César Cancio Ferrer, ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Hungary. The talk was moderated by Beatriz Isaac from ICRP and it was held for around one hour with the format of question-answer after which the audience could ask own questions.
The discussion was focused in the first part on the personal career of Ambassador Julio César Cancio Ferrer who told that in Cuba diplomats are for the career, not as a career. Aged 15 years old when the revolution began the ambassador engaged in the fight against the government for the next 2 years. One day when his battalion was in combat in Havana he received a letter saying that he was selected to be responsible for the external relations in the diplomatic corps of the revolution. In this way, diplomacy was the one choosing him, not the other way around and now 54 years of diplomatic career have passed since then. According to his words, a good job in diplomacy is the blend between a strong preparation during studies, understanding the working process of diplomacy, learning from superiors and never stop learning. The most challenging part of being an ambassador nowadays when the world faces a lot of corruption, is maintaining ethics and understanding the country of the diplomatic mission with an open mind and tolerance is essential. The key to manage being ambassador in Hungary and accredited in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the same time is to establish good communication and regular visits.
The discussion continued with the topic of relations between the USA and Cuba. In this regard, the ambassador stated that due to the USA dominated the continent for 300 years and the past events in history, reaching independence was difficult. Cuba was forced at a certain point to accept any help offered after a long war and a revolution in order to sustain itself as a country. The Cuban people did not want to have a consumer society and socialism was indentified with national independence. Respecting Cuban independence, accepting the liberty for Cuba to take own decisions can mean the beginning of normalizing the relations with USA. Respecting human rights and the responsibility of the state towards the people are serious matters to Cuba, while USA has difficulties in these sectors. He argued that the efforts and achievements of president Barack Obama towards Cuba are appreciated and he has more power for taking measures. This is why Cuba held talks with Obama to go forward as much as possible with the measures concerning Cuba so that the new president could not stop what was done until now. It is hard to say what will happen in November and who will be the next American president.
About relations between Hungary and Cuba, the ambassador said that Cuban people feel grateful towards the Hungarians. During the Revolution, Hungarian doctors came in Cuba when medical work force was needed and Hungarian professionals prevented universities form closing. After the political regime change, relations soured but have been recovered and multiple cooperation is planned especially in education. When asked about Cuban-EU relations and if they are related with USA, he said that there has been a dialogue and negotiations are held for establishing cooperation and lifting the embargo so that relations could normalize. Cuba had bonds in different fields with many countries in the EU but not with the organizations itself. Receiving a question about how to fight with corruption, the ambassador said that several aspects are involved in this matter such as the reason for stealing and that is for possessing things and the reason for wanting to poses things is because of living in a society where people are valued for what they have and not for what they are. Thus, corruption will end when the consumer society will end and human beings are valued for what they are. Humanity is in danger because it keeps asking for more resources than the nature can give for satisfying artificial needs. The obsession of possessing leads to corruption, but young people can change the harm made by previous generations.
Asked about Barack’s Obama visit to Cuba and the reason why Raul Castro did not go to the airport for welcoming the American president, the ambassador stated that according to the Cuban protocol the airport arrival is part of the travel and the visit starts at the palace with the guard of honor. The external ministers are responsible for receiving the guests at the airport. The most important was that everything needed was negotiated and although there were speculations about this issue, it was just a matter of protocol.

Cosmina Emilia Manda