Will the EU be left out of the game…?

December the 17th marked the beginning of a period giving rise to the normalising of Cuban-American relations, thus happily moving away from the strenuous special period endured by the Island after the collapse of the former USSR and the aggravation of the embargo. A willingness to change and for a new political relationship has been voiced, although there are still many issues to be negotiated, as admitted by Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro. Last 17th of December also meant a great leap forward for the success of the Summit of the Americas, which shall advance the bases for dialogue and hemispheric agreements.

Taking down the political and legal scaffolding built throughout more than 50 years will take time and will likely be an arduous task, although both countries’ willingness to seek consensus is unambiguous. It is proven by the political and diplomatic delegations which have travelled to Cuba since the 17th of December. The dynamism of the political and diplomatic movements deployed by Washington and Havana expresses a will which responds to the agenda of mutual interests and good neighbourly relations. However, contacts between the European Union and Cuba seem to be much slower. In my opinion, they should go a step ahead from Cuban-American contacts. At this time, the most pressing for the EU is to speed up the negotiations with Cuba, at a deadlock, and bury the common position for good. The EU must take on a leadership role and create the appropriate conditions for the embargo to be lifted and for the United States to adopt measures in this direction as quickly as possible. Thus, it is necessary and urgent to follow up the initiative for Cuba to be taken out of the list of states sponsors of terrorism. Apart from the fact that its inclusion bears no relation to reality, Cuba has cooperated without hesitation with several requests from Spain in this area. Indeed, our country can attest to the fact that Cuba must be taken out of that list, since Cuban collaboration in the struggle against the terrorist group ETA, although quiet, has always been known. Both in the “lead years” and concerning the laying down of weapons by the terrorist organisation, Cuba has given unfailing support to Spain in the struggle against this scourge, and that with efficiency and generosity. Moreover, Havana is hosting the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC, who have publicly declared their satisfaction for the reception and interest shown. Likewise, the gestures made since the start of the year highlight the nonsense of the Island being included in that list.

The EU must also foster and aid Cuba’s access to other multilateral institutions from which it is now missing and which could strengthen its visibility and contribution among the international community. I think at this point it is not necessary to recall or insist on Cuba’s ties with Spain and many European countries, and also with our allies, since Cuban diplomacy is one of the most notable in the world.

In this context a paradox may arise: if Cuba and the embargo promoter, the United States, negotiate bilateral agreements without removing sanctions for third-party countries, there could be major disruptions in the political, social, economic and cultural relations of the Island and the United States with the rest of the world. This approach must drive the EU to strengthen political dialogue and cooperation with Havana because, otherwise, will the EU be left out of the game…?