Wednesday

18th Sep 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Dissention

"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.

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

Central European leaders demand Balkan EU accession

Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have demanded to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania this year, as Hungary's man prepares to take over the enlargement portfolio.

Just 5% of Europeans trust Trump

European voters believe that EU's foreign policies should be more coherent and effective in order to remain neutral in potential international conflicts, since most EU citizens no longer rely on the US security guarantee, according to a new report.

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Revanchist Russia continues to rewrite European history
  2. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  3. These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission
  4. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  5. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing
  6. Trumpworld In Europe
  7. How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires
  8. Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us