HAVANA TIMES — The foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) meeting in Brussels today approved offering to Cuba to negotiate an accord that would strengthen relations between the two parties, reported dpa news.
The ministers approved the basis for negotiations on an agreement of “cooperation and political dialogue,” which would not include commercial privileges.
Diplomatic sources said that it was not negotiating a partnership agreement, but simply to “establish the current policy.”
“I hope that Cuba accepts the offer,” said Catherine Ashton, the head of European diplomacy.
At the same time, she warned that the block will not change its previous policy, particularly in regard to human rights and said that the issue will affect negotiations.
“Precisely because we support reform and modernization in Cuba, we have consistently expressed our concerns about human rights, which remain the core of our relationship,” Ashton said.
The EU common position on Cuba, passed in 1996, which conditions EU collaboration with Havana to an improvement of the situation of human rights, remains in effect.
This position can only be waived by a unanimous vote of the 28 EU governments.
Since 2008 the EU has assisted Cuba with 80 million euros, mainly in reconstruction aid after hurricanes.