By Zelmys María Domínguez Cortina, Ambassador of Cuba.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands, His Excellency Mr Frans Timmermans,
performed a successful official visit to Cuba from 5 to January 7, 2014.
During his stay, Mr. Timmermans and his delegation completed an extensive program that
included official talks with the Vice President of the Council of State and Ministers, HE Ricardo
Cabrisas, with HE Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and with HE Rodrigo
Malmierca , Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment. The Dutch Minister also met
with the Historian of Havana, Eusebio Leal Spengler, which is in charge of the restoration of
the historical center of the city, which, some time ago, was declared by UNESCO Patrimony of
One of the most important moments of the visit was the signing of a Memorandum for the
establishment of a mechanism for bilateral consultations between the two Ministers of Foreign
Affairs, which marked another important step in the process of improving the bilateral relations
between the two countries. Other important steps were: the visit of the previous Director of
Political affairs of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs in May 2013, when it was signed the
Declaration of restarting the cooperation between Cuba and the Netherlands; and the signature,
in July 2013, of an agreement for exchanging of prisoners.
Among other highlights of the visit were the opening of a soccer training activities for children
and young Cubans by Feyennord Rotterdam Football Club, and the tour through the facilities of
the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana. The Minister saw Sports and
Science, two important fields were Cuba has a lot of success. He also met with representatives
of civil society and the church, among other official and private activities. At the same time of
the visit of the Minister, a big delegation of Dutch businessmen also visited Cuba and met with
Mr. Timmermans and Cuban Counterparts.
Mr. Timmermans was satisfied with the results of his visit and said to the press that there
will be an increasing bilateral cooperation in various fields. He also expressed his interest in
strengthening the political dialogue between the two governments and said it’s time to update
the EU relations with Cuba, based on respectful dialogue.
The visit was made in the context of the pro-tempore Presidency of Cuba of CELAC
(Conference of Latin-American and Caribbean States), and in a moment where inside EU there
are talks about the establishment of a bilateral agreement between Cuba and EU, which will
represent a great success in the normalization of the relations between the two parties.
The visit of Mr. Timmermans to Cuba not only is consider as a very positive step, but also
it is the first time in history that a Dutch Foreign Minister visits the Caribbean nation, and
reaffirmed the commitment of both parties to move forward in strengthening economic, political
and social ties.