Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall reunited Europe, the European Union hailed a “historic turning point” in the Caribbean with the renewal of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. “Today another wall has started to fall,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement. “These moves represent a victory of dialogue over confrontation.” European governments, while critical of Cuban human rights abuses, have long urged Washington to follow them in improving relations with the communist-ruled island, especially since the end of the cold war and the collapse of Cuba’s Soviet sponsor. Mogherini said the EU, which lifted diplomatic sanctions on Cuba in 2008, favoured dialogue. In April, it began negotiations on a cooperation agreement, although Cuba recently put off talks that were due to have discussed human rights. “Human rights remain at the heart of EU policy towards Cuba,” said Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister. She also thanked Pope Francis for his “wisdom” in helping to mediate between Havana and Washington. Pope Francis led a chorus of global plaudits for Wednesday’s breakthrough in US-Cuban relations, hailed as “historic” in Europe and South America and prompting celebrations on the streets of Havana. In a personal coup for the pope, it emerged that the Vatican had played a central role in bringing together the global capitalist superpower and the tiny communist island. The Argentinian pontiff sent “warm congratulations” to the former arch-foes for overcoming “the difficulties which have marked their recent history”. The Vatican said the pope had appealed to US President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro to end the stand-off, offering negotiators his offices in October, paving the way for “solutions acceptable to both parties”. Hillary Clinton, the former US secretary of state now seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election, endorsed Obama’s move. “Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime’s grip on power. As I have said, the best way to bring change to Cuba is to expose its people to the values, information, and material comforts of the outside world,” Clinton said in a statement. “The goal of increased US engagement in the days and years ahead should be to encourage real and lasting reforms for the Cuban people. And the other nations of the Americas should join us in this effort,” Clinton added. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted that his country – which never broke off ties with Cuba – had also played its part by hosting the first secret talks last year, and welcomed the “overdue development”.