"CSC has been campaigning vigorously on this issue for many of years through lobbying campaigns of MPs and ministers, Early Day Motions in parliament, and ministerial delegations, all calling for the UK to break from the 'EU Common Position' which has imposed restrictions on relations between EU member states since 1996. CSC and affiliated Trade Unions have consistently called for a policy based on respect for Cuba's sovereignty and independence. We believe that this declaration is a significant first step in this direction.
"CSC hopes that this will signal the beginning of the development of bilateral exchanges in the fields of scientific, educational and cultural links. Most importantly we hope that there will be a real effort to explore and facilitate economic exchange between the two nations. Present trade levels are paltry in comparison to many other Europeann countries and it is in the interests of the people of both the UK and Cuba to see this change for the better.
"The signing of this agreement should be another nail in the coffin of the unjust and discredited 'EU Common Position' which has so hampered the development of relations between our two countries. Now that the UK has, along with many other EU nations, signed forward looking cooperation agreements, we very much hope that this will see a new and better era of relations to the mutual benefit of the people of Cuba and the UK"
A press release from the British Embassy dated 5 July read:
"The UK and Cuba today signed a declaration to strengthen bilateral cooperation. It was signed by British ambassador Dianna Melrose and Cuban Vice Minister Dagoberto Rodríguez.
"Commenting on the declaration, the British ambassador said:
"this declaration formalises bilateral cooperation between the UK and Cuba. It is an important step and part of the British government's renewed focus on Latin America. With the declaration in place, we look forward to enhanced engagement, deeper dialogue and the opportunity to cooperate more in priority areas including climate change, human rights, trade, investment and counternarcotics."
Baroness Angela Smith, Chair of the All Party Group on Cuba, and Vice Chair of CSC, stated on behalf of the Campaign: "This bilateral cooperation agreement is an excellent first step in the long overdue development of better UK-Cuba relations. The people of our two countries have so much in common and so much to learn from each other that any moves to better relations based on mutual respect and understanding must be applauded. I very much hope that we can now begin to see real practical steps to increase levels of trade and exchange."
full article and links http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/news.asp?ItemID=2032