26th Sep 2020

EU set to normalise relations with Cuba

The European Union is moving closer to resuming normal contacts with Cuba after a 19 month diplomatic freeze.

Meeting on Monday (31 January) in Brussels the EU ministers will discuss a proposal to normalise relations with Cuba, which have been rocky since 5 June 2003.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

A draft declaration for the meeting says that "all the measures taken on June 5, 2003 will be temporarily suspended," according to news agency AFP.

In 2003, the EU put relations with Cuba on ice after some 75 dissidents were arrested and sentenced to up to 28 years in prison. Only 14 of them have so far been released.

Fidel Castro’s communist government responded to the EU freeze by breaking off all ties to EU embassies in Cuba.

But Havana was then angered by the practice, by some EU embassies in Cuba, of inviting Cuban dissidents to receptions.

Over the past months, Cuba has re-established contacts with EU member states, beginning with its closest ally Spain and ending with those most hostile to the Cuban regime: the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, as well as the EU as a whole.

According to the draft for Monday's meeting, the EU would combine the normalisation of diplomatic ties with a demand that Cuba unconditionally release all political prisoners still in detention. The foreign ministers will make the normalisation temporary and examine the suspension again before July, according to the draft.

Sakharov Prize

But the biggest political group in the European Parliament has warned that European diplomacy might to fall into a trap if the diplomatic freeze is lifted.

In a letter sent to acting Council President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP-ED Group Chairman Hans-Gert Poettering called on the Council Presidency not to commit the European Union to a revision of its policy towards Cuba.

"It is totally unacceptable that the Cuban government will decide who our representations in Havana can, or cannot invite. This would constitute a terrible precedent for the future," Mr Poettering concluded.

The German MEP also drew attention to the fact that Oswaldo Payá, the 2002 Sakharov Prize laureate, is not allowed to come to the European Parliament.

Nobel nominee dispels ‘Island of Freedom’ myth

In an interview with the EUobserver at his home in Havana, last year’s winner of the Sakharov prize, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, explains why he is not able to travel to Europe, the state of political prisoners and the myth surrounding Cuban communism. This year's short-list for the Sakharov prize will be published by the European Parliament today.

Belarus opposition leader urges EU to be 'braver'

The Belarus oppositon leader asked the EU not to support the Belarus authorities financially, and not to recognise Lukashenko as the country's president when his term ends in November.

Cyprus leaves EU ministers red-faced on Belarus

EU foreign ministers will have nothing to show Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya when they meet her in Brussels on Monday, after Cyprus blocked sanctions.


The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  2. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US
  3. Far right using pandemic to win friends in Germany
  4. Visegrad countries immediately push back on new migration pact
  5. Why no EU progress on Black Lives Matter?
  6. EU migration pact to deter asylum
  7. 'Era of EU naivety ends', MEP pledges on foreign meddling
  8. Anti-mask protesters pose challenge for EU authorities

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us