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Cuba, EU to sign first bilateral agreement

By Ians English

Havana, Dec 12 Cuba and the EU will sign on Monday a bilateral Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, after two decades of frosty ties.


The document will be signed in Brussels by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mogherini, who is also the vice-president of the European Commission, was here in March as part of the negotiation process.

"We are at a real turning point in relations between the EU and Cuba. Through this new agreement, the EU shows its willingness to support the process of economic and social modernisation in Cuba, and I hope we will continue to advance in our bilateral relations," said Mogherini.

Abelardo Moreno, Deputy Foreign Minister of Cuba, led the negotiations with the EU since 2014.

Moreno said this agreement "will provide for the first time relations between the two parties with a reciprocal, respectful and mutually advantageous contractual framework for the development of political dialogue and cooperation."

Since 1996, the EU had adopted a common position pushed by Spain, which conditions relations with Cuba to the encouragement of democracy and respect for human rights.

This led to a prolonged distance created between Brussels and Havana, with the Cuban government maintaining this was a "selective and discriminatory" policy.

However, after Venezuela, the EU is Cuba's second-largest trading partner, its main foreign investor and the important provider of cooperation funds.

The EU has invested heavily in Cuba, especially in the electricity, water, healthcare, food and agriculture sectors.

Monday's agreement will remain provisional until it is ratified by the European Parliament as well as by each of the member countries.

It will engage the EU to relations with Cuba only in areas under Brussels' jurisdiction, such as development and trade.


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