EU decides to keep Cuba sanctions on ice
Campaign News | Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Foreign ministers 'deplore' human rights record but do not act against Havana
EU foreign ministers on Monday (14 June) "deplored the unsatisfactory progress on human rights in Cuba", but decided not to restore diplomatic sanctions against the country until June 2006, when the issue will be re-evaluated.
The ministers also regretted the fact that there had not been any new releases of political prisoners in Cuba, but they still decided to "maintain constructive dialogue with the Cuban authorities", Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn stated after the ministers' meeting.
"The Council viewed with satisfaction the development of more intense links with the peaceful political opposition and with larger sectors of Cuban civil society through a more intense and regular dialogue", he added, according to a Luxembourg EU presidency press release.
However, the ministers "categorically condemned" the expulsion of MEPs and journalists from Cuba last month, when they were prevented from joining a tiny US-organised meeting of the alleged political opposition.
The action of the Cuban authorities was judged "unacceptable", and "the Council calls on the Cuban authorities to refrain from engaging in such actions in the future, which are an obstacle to the normal development of relations between the European Union and Cuba", Mr Asselborn, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said.
The foreign ministers also decided to keep monitoring the country's evolution toward democratic pluralism and respect for human rights.
The EU froze its relations with Cuba in June 2003, after 75 US-paid dissidents, including 26 so-called "independent" journalists, were arrested and sentenced for up to 28 years in prison.
14 of them have been released since.
In January 2005, EU foreign ministers suspended the sanctions for six months to see whether dialogue with Havana proves a more effective policy.
Now with this decsion they have extended the suspension for another year.