EU Set to Normalize Relations with Cuba

Written by | Saturday, January 18th, 2014

The European Union is ready to normalize its relations with Cuba following a ten-year-long disagreement over human rights. Experts and analysts involved in shaping the EU-Cuba ties have reportedly agreed on underlying principles that should govern the review of mutual relations. Mostly post-Communist EU countries, such as Czech Republic or Poland, have opposed redefining Brussels’ ties to Havana due to the country’s poor human rights record. Yet, both countries have recently lifted their objections, which can pave the way for new talks.
Reportedly, Brussels is already preparing documents needed to commence formal negotiations with Havana, which should be officially coined “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement”. The EU suspended relations with Cuba in 2003 after an incident which ended up with 75 dissidents thrown into jail, but all of the imprisoned have since been released. Since the negotiations between the EU and Cuba resumed six years ago, a number of bilateral deals have been agreed on so far, mostly involving about 15 EU member states. Havana has also promised to enhance its human rights considerations.
Earlier in January, Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans called for Brussels to reconsider ties with Cuba. He said it was about the time for the EU to review its stance on the Latin American country and renegotiate its position. It is especially important for the Netherlands to strengthen EU-Cuba bilateral relations given the reforms that were started three years ago by Cuban President Raul Castro. The Netherlands is the second biggest EU trade partner of Cuba after Spain with the value of mutual trade having been almost 800 million USD in 2012.
Brussels’ number one diplomat Catherine Ashton was asked already in 2010 to find a possible way of improving of the EU’s stance towards Havana after dissidents had been released and the Cuban government embarked on economic reforms.

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