Violence in Bosnia condemned by EU foreign affairs chief

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The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Ashton, has said she condemns the recent violence that broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In some of the worst unrest for years, government buildings across the country were torched amid anger at the lack of jobs and a perceived inability of politicians to improve the situation.

Speaking at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 February 2014, Baroness Ashton said the government needed to "respond to the immediate concerns of the protesters".

She said it was important to ensure that protesters were able to air their grievances peacefully.

The unrest began in the northern town of Tuzla earlier in the week, with protests over the closure and sale of factories which had employed most of the local population.

The demonstrations quickly spread to other towns and cities, including Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica and Bihac.

The Council meeting was also used for foreign ministers to agree to launch negotiations with Cuba, aimed at restoring full bilateral relations with the Communist-run island.

The talks, which could begin as soon as next month, will try to increase trade and investment, and include a dialogue on human rights, officials said.

Since 1996, the EU has restricted its ties with Cuba to encourage multi-party democracy and progress on human rights.

"These negotiations will help consolidate our engagement with Cuba," said Baroness Ashton. "I hope Cuba will take up this offer."

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