Over dinner, the EU’s foreign ministers debated their
According to El Pais, the EU document says the EU will enter a dialogue with
The EU’s commitment to maintain contact with the Cuban opposition was reaffirmed, as was the EU’s commitment to “underscore to the Cuban government its point of view with regard to democracy, universal human rights, and fundamental liberties.” The EU will call on the Cuban government “to improve in an effective way the human rights situation through, among other things, the unconditional liberation of all political prisoners, including those who were detained and jailed in 2003.”
Update: Dissidents in
However, a leading Cuban dissident, Oswaldo Paya, said he hoped the move did not signify the EU's approval of the new administration.
”This regime has not announced any change that is significant for rights or liberty, and we know we have to conquer that ourselves,” Paya said.
The EU move is a setback for the Bush Administration, which had lobbied against it and for years has worked directly and indirectly to influence EU policy.
Comments from the Czech foreign minister are covered here.
Yesterday’s move probably means that these sanctions are gone for good. Their repeal required a unanimous decision, and it’s very telling that given the range of EU member governments’ opinions on
Reading between the lines, my guess is that the EU: 1) has not changed its objectives but wanted a change in tactics; 2) saw no sense in an annual debate over sanctions that were suspended years ago; 3) judged that the changes in Raul Castro’s first 100 days are small, positive, and to be encouraged; 4) wants to maintain support and continued contact with Cuba’s dissidents (which is probably greater than ours since their diplomats travel outside the capital and ours don’t) and will do so; 5) judged that change in Cuba, now and on the immediate horizon, is being driven not from the opposition but from within the system, and to encourage that change it’s necessary to have greater contact.
Beyond the diplomatic sphere, there may be another practical impact. A reader in Europe writes that when universities or other organizations seek EU funding for projects in Cuba, “Havana refuses to have anything to do with any projects that are funded by the EU or governments in the EU that are perceived as being in favour of the ‘sanctions.’” If that attitude changes, contacts between European civil society, supported by