HAVANA TIMES — Delegates from Cuba and the European Union met in Brussels on Thursday (June 25) to discuss the EU’s concerns about the observance of human rights in Cuba in the context of the EU’s “common position” toward the island.
The meeting was described by the EU as its first High-Level Human Rights Dialogue meeting with Cuba. The EU was represented by its Special Representative on Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, and Cuba by the Director-General of the Cuban Ministry for Multilateral Issues and International Law of Foreign Affairs, Pedro Núñez Mosquera.
A statement released by the EU after the meeting described it as “a frank and respectful preliminary exchange on issues of substance, with a view to build trust, enhance mutual understanding and develop cooperation.”
In diplomatic parlance, a “frank” encounter is a blunt exchange of views, so “frank and respectful” could be interpreted as blunt but polite.
The EU’s “common position” on Cuba, as stated in 1996, aims “to encourage a process of [Cuban] transition to pluralist democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as a sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people. […]
“The [EU] considers that full cooperation with Cuba will depend upon improvements in human rights and political freedom,” the position statement adds.
The press release (see below) issued Thursday states that “among the issues discussed [by Lambrinidis and Núñez] were gender and violence against women, children’s rights, sustainable development in the context of the post-2015 agenda, health, education, freedom of expression and association, migration and rule of law.”
In a press release prior to the meeting, the EU’s External Action Service recalled that, during a formal dialogue on April 22, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez “agreed on starting to work towards establishing a structured EU-Cuba Human Rights Dialogue.” (Both appear in photo at top.)
Lambrinidis and Núñez agreed on Thursday that the dialogue should take place on an annual basis and “should cover all human rights issues brought to the table by any of the parties.”
On June 10, Mogherini met in Brussels with Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel in the course of the summit between the EU and CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
That meeting was held in private.
First EU-Cuba high level human rights dialogue meeting on 25th June
On 25th June, the EU and Cuba held their first human rights dialogue meeting in Brussels.
The EU delegation was headed by EU Special Representative on Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis. Director General for Multilateral Issues and International Law of the Cuban Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mr Pedro Nuñez Mosquera, represented the Cuban side.
The discussions focused on the modalities for the pursuit of this dialogue, to be based on universal human rights standards, including its objectives, principles, format and procedures. Both sides agreed on the objectives for the dialogue of improving mutual understanding on human rights issues, exchanging experiences and best practices as well as seeking to identify potential areas of cooperation between the EU and Cuba. They agreed that dialogue should, in principle, take place on an annual basis. It should cover all human rights issues brought to the table by any of the parties.
Both sides also exchanged views on the basic human rights principles, such as universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, as well as the role of UN bodies on human rights and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council.
The EU and Cuba also addressed subjects of mutual interest in order to identify potential areas for future discussion and cooperation, both bilateral and in the context of multilateral fora. Among the issues discussed were gender and violence against women, children’s rights, sustainable development in the context of the post-2015 agenda, health, education, freedom of expression and association, migration and rule of law.
The talks demonstrated the commitment of the EU and Cuba to deepen their relations in order to support respect for human rights. They allowed for a frank and respectful preliminary exchange on issues of substance with a view to build trust, enhance mutual understanding and develop cooperation.