EU, Cuba nor­mal­ize ties af­ter decades-long rift

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Euro­pean Union and Cuba yes­ter­day signed a deal to nor­mal­ize ties that had been blocked for decades by hu­man rights con­cerns un­der rev­o­lu­tion­ary icon Fidel Cas­tro. Cuba was the only Latin Amer­i­can coun­try not to have a “di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion” deal with the 28na­tion EU cov­er­ing is­sues such as trade, hu­man rights and mi­gra­tion. But EU min­is­ters last week dropped a pol­icy in place since 1996 which stated that Cuba first had to im­prove its hu­man rights record be­fore get­ting closer links with the bloc.

Yes­ter­day’s ac­cord was signed by Cuban For­eign Min­is­ter Bruno Ro­driguez Par­rilla, EU for­eign af­fairs chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the EU mem­ber states at a Brus­sels cer­e­mony cap­ping years of dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­a­tions. Mogherini of­fered con­do­lences on Cas­tro’s death, telling re­porters it was “only nat­u­ral that we are closer to Cuba as it un­der­goes pro­found change.”

She said she was also “very en­cour­aged” by di­a­logue with Ha­vana on hu­man rights and the ac­cord would help fos­ter Cuba’s so­cial and po­lit­i­cal mod­ern­iza­tion. Cas­tro died last month af­ter more than 50 years at the helm of a self-styled So­cial­ist par­adise re­viled by the West, with Cuba grad­u­ally open­ing up to the world, in­clud­ing bit­ter foe Wash­ing­ton. In 2003, the EU im­posed sanc­tions on Cuba and sus­pended co­op­er­a­tion over a crack­down on jour­nal­ists and ac­tivists and it took un­til 2008 to get talks go­ing again.

Trump elec­tion, no im­pact

Ro­driguez Par­rilla said “we have had a few dif­fer­ences on the way but the re­moval of the (1996 EU) com­mon po­si­tion re-es­tab­lishes nor­mal re­la­tions based on mu­tual re­spect.” Asked what im­pact Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion might have on US pol­icy, he noted an­grily that de­spite eas­ing ten­sions, Wash­ing­ton had kept its eco­nomic em­bargo against Cuba. “EU-Cuba re­la­tions do not go via Wash­ing­ton,” he added.

Mogherini said she saw no rea­son for con­cern al­though Trump’s shock elec­tion vic­tory has stoked doubts in Europe about Wash­ing­ton’s global stance and its cru­cial se­cu­rity guar­an­tee. “De­vel­op­ments in Wash­ing­ton will not af­fect in any way re­la­tions be­tween the EU and Cuba,” she said, stress­ing Brus­sels had and would con­tinue to raise con­cerns about the im­pact of the US eco­nomic block­ade on other coun­tries. She also high­lighted Europe’s wider ties with the re­gion as a whole. “We are talk­ing about a transat­lantic link not only with the United States, but also with Cuba and Latin Amer­ica.”

On the cam­paign trail, Trump had threat­ened to end the thaw in US ties backed by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama un­less Ha­vana made con­ces­sions on hu­man rights and opened up its still largely state-run econ­omy to pri­vate busi­ness. “Eco­nomic links with Europe will con­tinue to be a pri­or­ity for Cuba as we build a so­cial­ist econ­omy,” Ro­driguez Par­rilla said at the sign­ing cer­e­mony. He re­called a speech in 2003 in which Cas­tro hailed the his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance of the EU as a coun­ter­weight to the United States which im­posed the trade em­bargo and other sanc­tions on Cuba af­ter it sided with Moscow in the Cold War. —AFP

BRUS­SELS: Cuba’s For­eign Min­is­ter Bruno Ro­driguez Par­rilla (left) shakes hand with EU for­eign af­fairs and se­cu­rity pol­icy chief, Fed­er­ica Mogherini af­ter sign­ing an EU-Cuba Po­lit­i­cal Di­a­logue and Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment in Brus­sels yes­ter­day. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.