Mogherini plans Cuba visit as accord nears
By EurActiv.com with EFE 9:37 (updated: 9:38)
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is set to
visit Cuba next week for talks that could finalize an agreement on
normalizing relations, Havana said on Thursday (3 March).
“Obviously it will be another very important visit, very important in
the current situation,” Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno
The European Union suspended relations with Havana in 2003 over a
crackdown on journalists and activists, but both sides are now pushing a
new accord in the wake of a historic rapprochement between Washington
The seventh round of talks are expected to hammer out final points on
the agreement, including effort to reach a consensus on human rights,
according to European diplomatic sources.
Sources of the European delegation in Cuba could not specify if the
purpose of the visit is the signature of the bilateral agreement with
Cuba, the only country in Latin America with which the EU has no such
“We are very hopeful for this round. We believe we can make substantive
progress,” said Moreno, who is leading the negotiations together with
his counterpart, the Secretary-General for Economic and Global the
European External Action Service EU delegation, Christian Leffler.
Leffler said that the European side trusts “the joint will to advance
towards an agreement to provide a framework and platform for a new
relationship between Cuba and the EU”.
In this round of talks, the parties will address deeper political issues
such as human rights, migration and the risks of weapons proliferation.
The previous round, held in December in Brussels, closed the economic
and trade chapter.
Mogherini visited Cuba in March 2015, the first such visit to the island
by a senior EU representative. On this occasion, she decided with Cuban
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez to speed up talks and sign the
agreement before the end of 2015, a period that was later prolonged by
The subsequent visit of Rodríguez to the European Commission’s
headquarters in Brussels in April 2015 helped trigger high-level
dialogue and begin discussions on human rights, an issue on which deeper
Mogherini’s second visit takes place ten days before the historic trip
to Cuba of US President Barack Obama, the first by a president of that
country in 88 years and seeks to strengthen the normalization of
relations between the two countries, which began in 2015.
On the restoration of relations with the US, Mogherini stated during her
previous trip to Cuba that this was a process independent of the
dialogue between the island and the EU, which kept “strong and
historical ties since 25 years”.
The signing of the agreement on political dialogue and cooperation also
seeks to put an end to the “common position”, the restrictive EU policy
in force since 1996, which was promoted by the then-Prime Minister of
Spain, José María Aznar, which limited dialogue with the island to
advances on rights and freedoms.
However, this policy did not prevent dialogue with Cuba since 2008, when
half of the bloc’s countries signed bilateral cooperation agreements,
and the Commission allocated more than 110 million dollars in aid to Havana.
Moreover, in the past year, three member state leaders visited Cuba:
French President François Hollande, Austrian President Heinz Fischer,
and, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Since 1996, EU policy toward Cuba has been guided by the Common
Position, which rules out full relations with Havana until it makes
reforms in areas such as more diverse political participation and
freedom of expression.
The EU suspended talks with Cuba in 2003 after Havana launched jailed 75
dissidents in a direct response to calls for liberalisation and greater
respect for human rights.
It was only in 2008 that the EU started lifting some sanctions
unilaterally, the year Fidel Castro retired from the presidency
permanently and power passed to his younger brother, Raul.
Source: Mogherini plans Cuba visit as accord nears – EurActiv.com –