21st Oct 2020

Diplomats asked to revise ties with Cuban opposition

The EU has agreed to revise the way it deals with Cuba's dissidents in order to develop political dialogue with Fidel Castro's government.

Representatives from the EU-25 on Tuesday (16 November) agreed to look into ways of making contacts with dissidents and civil society "more effective", according to the Dutch Presidency.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Diplomats said on Tuesday that they would continue to engage with Cuba's opposition but were looking to do so in a more productive way, leaving the path open for talks with government officials.

A largely symbolic move to invite dissidents to national festivities at EU embassies has seen Cuba restrict European diplomats' access to top Cuban officials.

The EU stepped up contacts with the opposition figures in June 2003 following the summary execution of three men who attempted to hijack a boat to the US - ending Cuba's de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

The matter is now likely to be dealt with at Foreign Minister level.


"Their [the Cuban government's] logic is that this puts government officials at the same level as the opposition... they find this unacceptable", Joaquín Roy, Director of the Centre for EU studies at the University of Miami told the EUobserver on Tuesday.

Since Spain's left of centre government took power in March this year, Madrid has been most active in lobbying to revise the EU's common position.

With Fidel Castro now thought to be 78, focus is now on how to help ensure Cuba receives a "soft landing" - as some commentators have put it.

"When the transition happens [EU] member states, and in particular Spain, would like to be in a better position, rather than in a vacuum where they have no presence", said Dr Roy.

However, the move has not gone down well with Cuban pro-democracy campaigners.

Earlier this week, Oswaldo Paya, a 2002 laureate of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize, urged the EU not to change its common position.

In a letter to the heads of Parliament and Commission Mr Paya said that the position of some governments would be understood, but that a change of EU policy is not in Cuba's interests.

"They can act according to their interests and abandon this ethical position, for reasons of their interests. But what no-one can say, without insulting our intelligence, is that to abandon this position and destroy these acts and symbols is in the interests of Cuba and peaceful change", he said.

Murder highlights plight of Sakharov prize nominees

Honduran environmental rights defender Arnold Joaquín Morazan was killed in his home on Tuesday, a few days after his fellow activists were shortlisted for the European Parliament's Sakharov prize for freedom of thought.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland first EU state to re-impose full lockdown
  2. EU countries agree farm policy reform
  3. EU corona-bonds attracted huge demand
  4. France seeks Putin's help on counter-terrorism
  5. Cyber attacks 'targeted health system during pandemic'
  6. Greece asks EU countries to halt military exports to Turkey
  7. Covid-19: Spain considers curfews in hardest-hit areas
  8. Study: Air pollution costs Europeans €1,276 per year


A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  2. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  3. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report
  4. Backroom deal will make CAP reform a catastrophic failure
  5. EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial
  6. Over 80% of Europe's habitats in poor or bad condition
  7. EU's Brexit move could end deadlock in talks
  8. EU's migrants more at risk from coronavirus

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us