Bruno Rodríguez.—Your Excellency High Representative and dear friend Federica Mogherini;
His Excellency Commissioner;
Compañero Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment;
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors:
I want to thank my dear friend, Federica Mogherini, for her presence in Havana for the second time, on an official visit, and express our appreciation for her substantial contribution to the development of relations between the European Union and Cuba.
With the signing of the Agreement which has just been reached, a long process concludes. I remember the establishment in 2008 of foundations of respect, reciprocity and cooperation that marked the adoption of bilateral agreements with 19 Member States of the European Union, and later an intense process of political dialogue at the highest level, in which I have felt very honored to work with Federica. I remember with particular gratitude her warm hospitality and the productive work sessions we held in April 2015, in Brussels.
This has been a dynamic, rigorous negotiating process, not without complexities; a process in which differences in some areas persist, which we can address in the proper way through mutual agreement, for the benefit of our peoples and traditionally strong bilateral relations. The will to positively move forward has prevailed. It has been, it seems to me, a model of negotiation in which an important community in the composition of international relations and a small island have found a way to advance, taking into account our respective and common interests.
This Agreement is an unprecedented step in the history of the ties between the European Union and Cuba. We now begin the respective internal processes, which we hope are expeditious and allow for the signing of the Agreement.
I feel that what is happening this morning, Federica and distinguished friends, corresponds to the level of relations between the vast majority of the Member States of the European Union, the European Union as a community body, and Cuba.
I wish to highlight the significant advances that have preceded this moment, including the first visit by Federica Mogherini, the respective meetings, the visits of the French President, the Prime Minister of Italy, the Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, the President of Austria, and the significant moment marked by the presence of the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba in Paris, on a state visit.
We also have formal cooperation agreements on political consultations between our foreign ministries. We have discussed very diverse topics during this recently concluded 7th Ministerial Political Dialogue Session; we exchanged views, concerns regarding circumstances that characterize the turbulent international situation.
We have confirmed the negative impact that the application of unilateral extraterritorial measures has on our economic, trade and investment ties, and that these seriously affect (European) community and Cuban interests.
We have also noted the importance and the readiness to establish a mechanism of permanent exchange of information regarding this topic.
We have likewise agreed to continue the human rights dialogue between the European Union and Cuba, a mechanism which last June saw its first meeting held in Brussels and was a very productive, respectful event, focused on international cooperation, with full recognition of the universal, indivisible and non-selective character of political rights and civil liberties and economic, social and cultural rights.
We have also exchanged views in relation to aspects of the European and Latin American and Caribbean situation, particularly situations relating to the wave of refugees affecting Europe, and we hope the European Union will find ways, with absolute respect for the human rights of refugees and migrants, to address the root causes of underdevelopment, wars and violence in the countries concerned.
I must say that, with respect to the question of my dear friend in relation to the situation in Venezuela, we have expressed our objection and our deep discontent regarding the extension of the Executive Order issued by the President of the United States of America which, in an unheard of, unjustified and arbitrary fashion considers this nation an unusual and extraordinary threat to its national security.
I explained that a year ago this incited strong continental condemnation and affected the regional atmosphere, and that the Bolivarian Revolution, the civil-military union led by the legitimate government of President Maduro and the Venezuelan people, will continue to enjoy the unconditional solidarity of Cuba.
Steps such as the one just taken encourage violent coup-plotting sectors, and we believe the best way to help the Venezuelan people and government to find a solution to their difficulties is the profound, absolute and permanent respect for their sovereignty and internal affairs, which are exclusively their responsibility.
We have addressed the peace talks in Colombia, we have exchanged views, shared the hope that there are productive results and a final, comprehensive, solid agreement can be reached that guarantees the much needed and deserved peace of the Colombian people.
The European Union is and will remain an increasingly important partner for Cuba. It is a region with which we have historical and cultural links; it is our second largest trading partner, as such there is a solid foundation, broad potential to develop and Cuba, within her national development priorities, will always count on the interests of our European counterparts who accompanied our country, even in the most difficult moments of our economy, and our ties will surely continue to be a common priority.
I thank my dear friend Federica very much for her presence in Havana.
Thank you (Applause).