HAVANA – Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and the top European Union representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, on Thursday in Havana identified areas of cooperation to strengthen the bilateral relationship under a new legal framework which has been in force since November.
“We have every intention of moving forward within the contractual framework we’ve established by common agreement and the will to move forward with its implementation,” said the Cuban minister upon welcoming Mogherini to the Foreign Ministry in the Cuban capital.
Rodriguez emphasized that the agreement, reached in 2016 but which entered into force on Nov. 1, is a “demonstration of the good will and reciprocal respect that will allow moving forward to mutual advantage above and beyond our differences.”
Meanwhile, the EU’s representative for foreign affairs and security policy, who arrived in Cuba on an official visit on Wednesday, said that the approval of the accord for political dialogue and cooperation opens a “new chapter” in the relationship, providing “new opportunities to expand and deepen the links.”
“We see potential in areas like cooperation on development, trade and investment, but also in political dialogue, which for us is extremely important at a time when we want to strengthen global consensus to overcome potential differences,” said the Italian diplomat.
Mogherini and Rodriguez at their meeting also discussed the issues that will be handled in the first EU-Cuban council, the mechanism for bilateral contacts that will be implemented under the accord’s legal framework and scheduled for this year’s first quarter in Brussels.
The Italian met on Wednesday with the ministers of foreign trade and foreign investment as well as Culture, Rodrigo Malmierca and Abel Prieto, respectively, as well as visiting in historic Old Havana several buildings restored with European funds.
Before her meeting with the foreign minister, she also visited the Capitol, the new seat of the Cuban National Assembly, accompanied by its president, Esteban Lazo, with whom she spoke about the level of consensus among eurodiplomats for supporting the pact with Cuba.
Before returning to Brussels, Mogherini will hold a press conference and authorities are not ruling out a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro.
Although the agreement reached in March 2016 is in provisional force, to be fully implemented it must be approved by the parliaments of the 28 EU members, and so far only seven of those nations have done so.