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EU signs first cooperation agreement with Havana

Reporter: Michael Voss 丨 CCTV.com

12-14-2016 10:35 BJT

The European Union has signed its first ever cooperation agreement with Cuba. It provides a legal footing for future economic and political relations, just as Cuba’s improved relations with the United States could be under threat.

It has taken two and a half years of negotiations. Now, at a ceremony in Brussels, the European Union and Cuba have signed a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement aimed at boosting economic development along with a framework for discussing issues such as democracy and human rights.

“Cuba is undergoing profound changes and with this agreement the opportunity to ensure that the relationship between the European Union and Cuba are taken to a new level,” said Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

“This is the basis for achieving civilized coexistence, beneficial coexistence among nations, regardless of their size, social political models or levels of development,” said Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban Foreign Minister.

European diplomats and Cuban officials also watched the signing ceremony at the EU’s Mission in Havana. This new accord with the European Union comes as Cuba faces a more uncertain future over its relationship with the United States under President-elect Donald Trump.

Europe already has significant trade ties with Cuba and is the largest foreign investor on the island and is looking to increase this further.

On the U.S. side, Cuba has approved direct commercial flights and a limited number of other business deals. Now it appears there is a rush to complete outstanding negotiations before Trump arrives in the White House.

Last week Cuba agreed to allow two more cruise companies, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines to sail to Havana from Miami.

In a separate ceremony Monday morning, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt signed an agreement in Havana with Cuba’s Telecoms monopoly Etecsa.

Cuba has started to expand Wi-Fi hotspots around the country but the internet is slow. This deal should speed up downloads by installing servers on the island containing Google content such as Gmail and YouTube.

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