HAVANA._ At a recent third round of talks between Cuba and the European Union (EU), aimed at establishing a Political Dialogue and Bilateral Cooperation Accord, progress was made on several levels in culture, education, health and agriculture.

The talks, as was also the case in the previous ones, were undertaken constructively, positively and with absolute honesty that “has facilitated the advances already made,” deputy Cuban Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, has said.

This latest round, held in Havana last month, specifically focused on issues relating to cooperation and dialogue about sectoral policies.

Cuban Foreign Ministry officials said that the agreement with the EU was being considered in great detail as it would establish the framework for future negotiations.

At a recent third round of talks between Cuba and the European Union (EU), aimed at establishing a Political Dialogue and Bilateral Cooperation Accord, progress was made on several levels in culture, education, health and agriculture.The delegation representing the European block was led by Christian Leffler, executive director for the Americas of the European Foreign Action Service, who felt that substantial progress had been made during this most recent round of talks.

At the talks, the European side expressed its views on issues dealing with political dialogue, economic relations and trade, all of which will be addressed in the upcoming rounds.

This new stage will include the following issues in its agenda: national and international policy, governance, human rights, the rule of law, peace, security, the fight against terrorism, and joint efforts to confront global challenges.

According to Leffler, such a presentation will permit exchanges of ideas between both parties during the coming months, meaning that many issues will have been addressed before the next round of talks starts.

Previous rounds had proceeded along  similar lines; a system deemed to be very effective because it identifies interpretation problems and acknowledges sensitive subjects in topics of mutual interest.

Leffler pointed out that there was no fixed timeline or deadline by which agreements must be reached as long as a legal basis, which backs up this agreement for at least fifteen years, is in place.

Because of the so called “common position,” a restrictive policy on interaction with Cuba adopted by the EU in 1996, the Caribbean island is one of the few nations that do not have an agreement of this kind with the European Union.

While a bilateral agreement is being negotiated, the EU will maintain its “common position” policy on Cuba which can only be revoked by a unanimous agreement of all 28 member-states.

Back in October 2008, both sides decided to restart unconditional and non-discriminatory political dialogue and cooperation on a reciprocal basis, while fully respecting sovereignty of nationstates.

In April 2014 Havana hosted the first meeting while the second was held in Brussels, Belgium, four months later.

The first round was to map out the talks process and devise a broad outline for the future accord.

The second round focused on issues relating to political dialogue and cooperation based on mutual respect for differences in order to reach a better understanding and pave the way to convergence.

EU REPRESENTATIVES IN CUBA TO FORGE CLOSER TIES

The EU high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, considered last March’s visit as very positive, adding that the mission of strengthening ties with Cuba had been accomplished.

In a press briefing, Mogherini said that very good grounds for further cooperation had been identified at meetings with Cuban authorities, noting that there had been points on which both parties had agreed.

During her official visit she was received by Cuban president Raúl Castro and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez with whom she exchanged ideas on climate change, the post-2015 agenda for global development, and cooperation in renewable energy production.

The senior official said that “there is a high level of reciprocated trust between Cuba and the EU.”

She commented that Cuba and the EU were currently negotiating a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Accord, of which the third round of talks had concluded. She added that both sides are interested in concluding this process as soon as possible in order to be able to begin cooperation within this framework.

Mogherini stressed that, “the signing of this accord is key to working together on a more solid basis.”

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