Europe’s top diplomat: EU-Cuba talks aim to promote island’s prosperity, wellbeing
Havana, May 26 (EFE).- The European Union’s top diplomat said here Friday that the focus of talks between an EU delegation and the Cuban government is to bring wellbeing and prosperity to the island’s people.
Josep Borrell made his remarks at the start of an EU-Cuba Joint Council meeting in Havana.
The EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy was received by Cuba’s foreign trade and foreign investment minister, Ricardo Cabrisas, who is heading up the Cuban delegation to the talks.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez had been expected to receive Borrell but was unable to attend due to flu-like symptoms.
The meeting with Rodriguez was to have been one of the highlights of the Spanish politician’s visit, along with Friday’s Joint Council meeting. The two diplomats also had been expected to give a joint statement to the media.
Ahead of Borrell’s visit, which began on Wednesday and ends Saturday, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs had demanded assurance from the EU’s top diplomat that human rights remain a priority of the bloc’s policy toward Cuba.
In particular, they want pressure brought to bear on the Cuban government for its repression of the July 11, 2021, anti-government protests, which were generally peaceful and spontaneous. Several thousand people were arrested and around 700 of those detainees have been convicted and sentenced, in some cases to up to 30 years behind bars.
The EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement was signed in December 2016 and most of the text began to be applied provisionally in November 2017.
That agreement marked the end of the EU’s so-called “Common Position” toward Cuba that the bloc had maintained since 1996 and which had linked all advances in the bilateral relationship to the island’s progress in democratization and human rights.
The accord promotes cooperation in the areas of sustainable development, democracy and human rights, and aims to find shared solutions to global challenges through joint actions in multilateral forums.
Possible areas of common interest to be pursued under that agreement include renewable energies, rural development, the environment, human rights, good governance, security and job creation. EFE