Turning the page with Cuba and Argentina. Then Paris, for a Union of solidarity

Turning the page with Cuba and Argentina. Then Paris, for a Union of solidarity

I write after a trip to Argentina and Cuba, two very distinct countries who share very strong ties with Europe. Both –in different ways and with different stories – are going through a phase of great changes and of opening to the world.

In Buenos Aires I met with President Mauricio Macri, with my colleague and friend the Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and with other Ministers to work on the sectorial dialogues we are about to open. I also had a dialogue with a group of European investors. I told them all that Europe is ready, both in political and economic terms, to pick up the threads of our historic relationship, which has been interrupted for too many years. We focused in particular on how to restart the negotiations between our European Union and Mercosur (here is the video of my press conference in Argentina).

The most touching moment of the trip, though, was my visit to the memorial for the victims of State terrorism in the Seventies and Eighties. On never-ending walls, along the shores of Rio de la Plata, are written the names of almost ten thousand people killed during the military dictatorship. Young men and women, even boys and girls, pregnant ladies – these are the children of the Plaza de Mayo mothers and grandmothers I have met so many times. Our collective memory must keep a special place for their battle for truth.

My second stop was in La Havana. My first trip there as the Union’s High Representative dates back exactly one year: in March 2o15 we had committed to reaching in one year time a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, which would mark a historic step in our relationship. We have kept our promise. After twelve months of very intense negotiations, yesterday we signed – together with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez – a deal covering a number of dossiers, from political dialogue to human rights, from economic ties to the protection of the environment.

For us Europeans – unlike our American friends – this is not a “comeback” to Cuba: in fact, we have always been there, in good times and bad times. But this agreement opens an entirely new phase, which will also lead to a stronger economic and trade cooperation. The same will happen in ten days, with President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to the island. The US have the opportunity to finally turn the page and remove the embargo on Cuba (here is my press conference with Bruno Rodriguez).

I discussed this at length with President Raúl Castro, in three our of conversation during which we restated our commitment to strengthen our ties. Such ties are written in our history, for both Cubans and Europeans.

Today I am in Paris, for a meeting of European Socialist leaders at the Elysée palace, organised by President François Hollande. We discussed the present and future of our European Union, the need to work for economic growth, and how to manage – both humanely and securely – the refugees’ flows. We can find real solutions only at the European level. Still, pressures towards national solutions have not ceased, despite the many failures of such solutions. We need to draw a path towards solidarity, among Europeans and with our neighbours. Today we all committed to do so.