EU Diplomat Federica Mogherini: ‘There is no distancing from civil society’ / 14ymedio

Federica Mogherini, just outside the press conference where a reporter from 14ymedio was not allowed to enter
Federica Mogherini, just outside the press conference where a reporter from 14ymedio was not allowed to enter

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 March 2015 – On Tuesday afternoon the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, held a press conference for Cuban official media and foreign correspondents in Havana. According to the representative, Cuba and the European Union aspire to reach an agreement on political dialog and cooperation before the end of the year.

At the press conference, held in the Taganana Room at the Hotel Nacional, independent Cuban media were not allowed to enter. However, despite the restrictions, a 14ymedio reporter managed to get some statements from the official as she left the location.

Thanks to the collaboration of Herman Portocarero, European Union Ambassador to Cuba, this newspaper was able to have brief contact with Mogherini at the end of the press conference. The official regretted the incident that blocked journalist Reinaldo Escobar from entering the area of the press conference and agreed to answer some brief questions.

In its questions, 14ymedio, recalled that during the rift between the Cuban authorities and the European leaders there was increased contact with alternative civil society, whose representatives have been received in several European Chancelleries. Thus, it’s worth asking, “Does the current approach of the European Union to the Cuban government mean that this relationship with civil society will be reduced or eliminated?”

Mogherini replied, “No, there is no distancing from Civil Society. The Europeans, the European Union, always talk with civil society, with every civil society.” To which this newspaper asked if she thought that relations between Cuba and the European Union were improving. The European head of diplomacy said, “I believe it is advancing.”

The issue of the United Nations Human Rights covenants that the Cuban government has signed but not ratified was also a subject of questions. Mogherini responded that, “The subject was discussed, but I cannot speak to it. I can’t speak on behalf of the Cuban government.”

Mogherini made an official visit to Cuba this Tuesday, the first for a European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs to the island, to advance the dialogue seeking a normalization of relations between Brussels and Havana.

Cuba is the only Latin American country with which the European bloc does not have a bilateral agreement. Since 1996 relations have been determined by the “Common Position” which has conditioned ties with Havana to advances in democracy and human rights in Cuba.