EU-Cuba diplomats meet to strengthen bilateral relations

World Today

Officials from the European Union and Cuba held their second meeting of the Joint Council on Monday in Havana.

Their goal is to strengthen bilateral relations. CGTN’s Luis Chirino reports from the Cuban capital.

The meeting was headed by European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini and by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Mogherini arrived in Cuba over the weekend and was officially welcomed by Rodriguez at the foreign ministry building.

The council members discussed how to further advance the implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, signed by both parties in 2016 and currently under provisional implementation.

Following the session, the top European Union diplomat and the Cuban foreign minister addressed the media.

“Our accord can help boost economic cooperation including trade and investment, and as Cuba boosts modernization, this accord can support such changes in the benefit of the Cuban people,” said Mogherini.

The European Union is Cuba’s largest trading partner and investor. Last year, E.U. trade approached more than three billion dollars with the island.

Meanwhile, the Cuban foreign minister said that ‘this second joint council opens a new stage in Cuba-European Union relations, with its outcome favoring bilateral links.’

The E.U. is Cuba’s major trade and investment partner in areas such as construction and agriculture. Cooperation involves renewable energy, climate change mitigation, and economic modernization.

The 28 strong bloc was the source of one-fourth of all tourists that visited the island the first half of this year.

The gathering also reaffirmed the European Union’s position on the U.S. policy of sanctions against companies trading with Cuba.

“The European Union rejects the full enactment of the U.S.’s Helms-Burton Law and considers as illegal the extraterritorial implementation of unilateral coercive measures and will resort to all appropriate measures to protect its legitimate interests, its citizens and companies,” said Mogherini.

For both, the European Union and Cuba this second joint council stresses the fact that despite their differences, the two parties can build a strong political and commercial relationship based on common interests.