HAVANA – Spain’s acting foreign minister said on Saturday that Spain “needs to play a leadership role” in negotiations between the European Union and Cuba stemming from an agreement to normalize relations.
“Spain is looking to accompany the rapprochement process between Cuba and the European Union. The agreement between the EU and Cuba has just been signed. Now the dialogue between the two sides continues and Spain must play a leadership role in that negotiation,” Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told members of the Spanish media.
Spain’s top diplomat stressed that his nation’s role in the Caribbean island’s current scenario “is what it’s always been: very close bilateral relations and a certain leadership mission in the European Union for obvious historical, cultural and affinity reasons.”
“A long time ago, the pope (John Paul II) said the world was opening to Cuba and Cuba was opening to the world. And little by little we’re seeing that that opening is occurring,” he added.
Garcia-Margallo arrived Friday night in Cuba for his second official visit to the island and will begin the official portion of his trip on Monday when he meets with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, and other ministers.
Negotiations for the new accord, signed in March, began in 2014 and were aimed at normalizing a relationship constrained since 1996 by the EU’s so-called Common Position, which made improved ties between the bloc and Havana contingent on democratization and respect for human rights on the Communist-ruled island.
The agreement still must be ratified by the European Parliament.