The Strategist

EU signs first ever cooperation pact with Cuba

12/12/2016 - 13:02

The European Union and Cuba signed an agreement on political dialogue and cooperation with aim to normalize relations between the West and the island state, reports AFP. Ceremony of the agreement signing took place in Brussels. The document was signed by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

The agreement will be submitted for ratification in the European Parliament Soon. "Relations between the EU and Cuba are at a crossroads", - stressed Mogherini, adding that Brussels and Havana have "strong historical, economic and cultural ties." Head of the EU diplomacy also stated that she is "looking forward" to development of relations between Cuba and the EU.

Change of President in the United States will not affect relations of Cuba and the European Union. Brussels will continue to express concern about extraterritorial effect of US sanctions against Cuba, added Mogherini.

"Events in Washington, which will take place in late January, will not affect relations between the EU and Cuba," - Mogherini told reporters after signing of the first-ever agreement on political dialogue and cooperation between the European Union and Cuba.

She said that now the European Union and Cuba "for the first time have a formal framework of bilateral relations."

"The EU has expressed concern about extraterritorial effect of US sanctions against Cuba, we will continue to do so", - said Head of European diplomacy.

Agreement between the EU and Cuba defines common positions of the parties on a number of potential areas of cooperation, from trade and dialogue on sectoral policies to political dialogue, foreign affairs and institutions, and human rights.

Course of action to improve relations with Havana was proposed by incumbent US President Barack Obama. In March 2016, he visited the island, and then removed the economic blockade against Cuba, organized after the 1959 revolution. In turn, negotiations between Havana and Brussels passed seven rounds. They started in April 2014 and came to an end in March 2016.

Last week, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno said last week that Cuba welcomed the EU's decision to abandon the "common position" and the restrictive policy in relation to it.

In a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the diplomat stressed that Havana, "in particular, recognizes importance of political value of the solution, which allows completely abolishing the so-called common position of 1996".

This policy was unilaterally imposed on Cuba 20 years ago at request of conservative Spanish government of José María Aznar. The strategy tied any progress in relations with the island to progress in human rights.

Since that position was adopted, Cuba "strongly rejected" it because of its "selective and discriminatory" character, recalled the official. "As shown by recent positive development of Cuba's relations with the European Union and its member States, the one-sided policy has de facto been overcome", - he said.

"For Cuba, it was important that this relic of the past, contrary to principles of equality, reciprocity and respect, has been completely canceled", - said Moreno. According to him, decision of the international community "create favorable conditions" for signing the bilateral agreement, which for the first time lays legal basis "for development of political dialogue and cooperation, including trade."