Friday, June 11, 2010

EU resists pressure to normalise with Cuba

EU resists pressure to normalise with Cuba
Published on Friday, June 11, 2010

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) -- EU foreign ministers will agree on Monday to
prolong Europe's insistence that Cuba make progress on human rights and
democracy before ties are normalised, diplomats said.

"There is no unanimity" within the 27 EU nations to alter the current
position of no sanctions but no normalisation with Cuba, a source in
Brussels said ahead of the ministerial meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

While Spain, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, has called for
full relations with the island to be restored, other countries are

"When you need the unanimous agreement of all 27 then you know what the
result is going to be," another diplomatic source said, meaning the
common position will be extended for another year.

Opposition comes from countries including France, Sweden and the Czech
Republic, while Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos had made
it a priority of his country's six months at the EU helm to scrap the
position and replace it with a bilateral agreement with Havana.

Cuba called on the European Union Thursday to drop its "obsolete"
stance, saying it amounted to meddling in internal affairs.

Spain has argued that the EU position has yielded few results since it
was adopted in 1996 and should be abandoned.

France responded to Rodriguez's call by saying it could not step up
relations since Cuba had not improved human rights.

The death in February of leading Cuban political prisoner Orlando
Zapata, after a long hunger strike, did not improve Europe's mood.

A wave of prison sentences for dissidents has also stiffened opposition
to the Spanish initiative.

However European foreign ministers will consider engaging in "a process
of reflection" on the future of ties with Cuba, according to sources,
offering Havana, and Madrid, a kind of minimal gesture.

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