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The EU opposes publishing its agreement with Havana because it could 'undermine' its process of dialogue with the regime

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini (left), shakes hands with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez. Havana, 11 March, 2016. (EFE)

The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's diplomatic division, has refused to disclose to the "general public" the contents of the bilateral treaty signed on March 11 with the regime since, as indicated in a letter - to which DIARIO DE CUBA has had access - publishing it now "could undermine the process" and "harm relations between the EU and Cuba."

The missive, dated 27 April, bears the signature of the head of the Parliamentary Affairs division of the EEAS, Gabriele Visentin, and is the answer to a request by Erik Jennische, Director of Latin American programs for Civil Rights Defenders, after he had requested access to the document publicly signed in Havana on March 11.

The document in question, "Political dialogue and cooperation agreement between Cuba and the European Union concluded on 11 March, 2016" is, according to Visentin, "provisional in nature and part of a negotiation that is still in progress." 

Invoking European regulations, the diplomat insists that the content of the text may not be published, either partially or totally.

The document was signed by the EEAS's Secretary-General for Economic and Global Affairs, Christian Leffler, and Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno.

The document was signed in the presence of the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla. 

Erik Jennische told DIARIO DE CUBA that he believed that denying access to the agreement constitutes a violation of the EU's "principle of transparency." The activist also observed that it is a contradiction to state that the document is provisional when its negotiating teams signed it "in the public spotlight."

Jennische expressed regret about the exception that the EU has granted the regime in Havana, and reported that he has already appealed this decision. "If the EU signed a similar agreement in a democratic country in Latin America, there would be no problems publishing the document."

In this case, the activist believes that the regime in Havana is calling the shots. "Cuba says that it cannot be published, which means that the Cuban government is deciding what the EU and cannot do, excluding its own citizens from the debate."

The activist called on EU member governments to publish the text of the agreement so that it can be discussed by citizens. He also pointed out that similar texts were signed with Central American countries from 2012 to 2013, following open negotiation processes, including the participation of human rights organizations at the meetings. "That is the way to work," said Jennische.

The Cuban case, however, has stood apart. European and Cuban organizations have been excluded from the process, Jennische said. "According to them the idea behind ​​the agreement is to create a rapprochement between peoples, but how is that going to happen if they refuse to publish its contents?"

In Cuba, Federica Mogerinhi said in March that the agreement makes it possible to overcome the "common position," although to be enacted it still needs approval by the European Council. The signed document proposes to strengthen relations between Havana and the EU, and includes a section on political dialogue, another on cooperation and sectorial policies, and a third on trade.