EU 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 agreed to look into ways of making contacts with dissidents and civil society "more effective," according to the Dutch Presidency. Diplomats said 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. Since Spain's left of center 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," Roy said.