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Netherlands offers to mediate to spur Cuba-EU negotiations

Netherlands offers to mediate to spur Cuba-EU negotiations
Published May 07, 2015 EFE

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Thursday in Havana that his
country is ready to act as a mediator to “stimulate” the negotiations
between Cuba and the European Union for a bilateral accord on the basis
of the “solid relationship” The Netherlands has with the island.

Holland’s top diplomat noted that his country was one of the “promoters”
of launching negotiations in April 2014 with an eye toward obtaining an
agreement on political dialogue and cooperation and a “crucial actor” in
pushing the talks foward to finalize a deal before the end of the year.

“It’s important that we strengthen the discussions. But without
pressuring things, if we want a good agreement both for Cuba and for the
EU. We have to ensure that we discuss all the questions and I think that
there’s a spirit on the part of both parties to achieve it. And we’re
going to stimulate that,” he emphasized.

Koenders met on Thursday morning with Cuban Vice President Miguel
Diaz-Canel and with the interim foreign minister, Marcelino Medina, and
he is scheduled during the course of the day to hold meetings with the
head of foreign trade and investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, and with
Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the Catholic Church’s top official on the island.

The Dutch minister also said that the purpose of his trip is “to
strengthen links between two friendly nations” and identify economic
areas in which Holland can contribute to the island’s process of reforms
to “update” its socialist model.

Koenders said that there is already a “solid” Dutch business presence on
the island, which works basically in the infrastructure and shipbuilding
sectors, but Holland wants to increase that presence in “the areas that
are priorities for Cuba,” including agriculture, food security, energy
and tourism.

With that in mind, the minister said that over the past year several
small Dutch trade missions had traveled to the island but a much larger
business delegation is preparing to visit Cuba at the beginning of next

He also said that Holland and Cuba are on the verge of agreement on two
big investment projects that will be announced soon, although he
provided no further details about them.

He also noted that Holland is Cuba’s second-largest European trade and
investment partner, after Spain.

Koenders said that his visit to Cuba “gives continuity” to the one made
by his predecessor, Frans Timmermans, who traveled to the island in
January 2014 to increase bilateral ties and push relations with the EU.

On that occasion, the governments of Cuba and Holland signed an accord
to establish a bilateral consultation mechanism. EFE


Source: Netherlands offers to mediate to spur Cuba-EU negotiations | Fox
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