Borrell travels to Cuba to strenghten EU economic ties

The head of diplomacy of the European Union (EU), Josep Borrell, on Thursday urged the Cuban government to "strengthen" its relations with the bloc, the main trading partner and investor in the island, against other economic actors such as China and Russia.

"I know that now Cuba is facing in the particular case of energy, electricity and fuel, a particularly difficult situation (...), and therefore, we must strengthen economic ties with the European Union," Borrell said during a meeting with Cuban businessmen, as part of a visit to the island until Saturday.

Borrell said that the 27-country bloc is Cuba's main trading partner, accounting for 32% of its foreign trade, "compared to 8% from China and 8% from Russia", and provides the largest development aid.

He claimed that the EU "is objectively important" because it is also the first investor in Cuba, "despite all the limitations" imposed by the US embargo, in force since 1962.

"It is clear that we are much more important than other economic actors such as Russia or China," Borrell noted.

His statements come almost a week after Russia and Cuba signed economic agreements in a dozen sectors during the visit to Havana of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko, to whom President Miguel Díaz-Canel pledged "unconditional support" for Russia "in its confrontation with the West".

Cuba was one of nine countries, including China, North Korea and Belarus, that voted on Wednesday in Geneva against a resolution condemning Moscow's attacks on the Ukrainian health system, adopted by 80 votes in favour.

Havana abstained from the two UN votes in March 2022 and February 2023 that called on Russia to stop the war and immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine.