EU-Cuban Relationships on a New Course

Written by | Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
@Eubulletin

The European Union is seeking to revive its relations with Cuba, choosing to launch political negotiations while being attentive to human rights and political reforms in the country. Foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states endorsed a mandate for a political and cooperation deal that would eventually lead to further deepening of the EU-Cuba ties in the area of trade, investment, and economy. Catherine Ashton, the chief of EU foreign policy, said that she hoped Cuba would take up the EU’s offer so that both parties could work on a healthy relationship.
It is expected that it can take up to three years to finalize a “Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement” but despite this prospect, reaching a negotiation mandate for the EU to resume talks between the two has already been the most significant policy shift since Brussels re-established ties with Havana five years ago. In the wake of new developments, many observers and activist groups are concerned about the issues of dissidents and democratization in the Communist state. The EU emphasized it would remain wary about these considerations and concluded that “this is not a policy change from the past”. Ms Ashton added that it is the EU’s aim to develop mutual links to Cuba while concurrently supporting political reform and modernization in the country. As she further stressed, human rights have always been at the heart of similar negotiations and so will they be now.
Brussels interrupted ties to Cuba in 2003 after 75 dissidents had been thrown behind bars by Cuban authorities. When the opponents were released, the EU resumed relations. So far, some EU post-communist countries like the Czech Republic or Poland have vividly opposed the resumption of relations with Cuba.

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