No Change in EU’s Cuba Policy

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Urges European Union to End Obsolete Policy towards Cuba
 (RHC).- Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called on the European Union on Thursday to change its obsolete position toward the island, saying that it amounted to meddling in Cuba’s internal affairs.
He said “The European Union’s common position must change because it amounts to interference and is obsolete.” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez made these comments following talks in Paris with the European Union troika headed by his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, who described the meeting as “constructive and positive.”
The Paris talks were held before a meeting Monday in Luxembourg of European foreign ministers who are to decide whether they want to change their so-called common position toward Cuba.
Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has argued that the position has yielded few results since it was adopted in 1996 and should be abandoned altogether.
According to a statement posted on the website of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Bruno Rodriguez reiterated Cuba’s willingness to strengthen cooperation and continue the political dialogue with the European Union on reciprocal, unconditional and non- discriminatory grounds; always respecting the principles of sovereignty and non- interference in domestic affairs.

         No Change in EU’s Cuba Policy
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s “common position” toward Cuba, which makes warmer relations with the “communist-ruled” island contingent on progress in human rights, will remain in place for now due to lack of unanimity in the 27-member EU on adopting a softer approach, Spanish official sources told Efe Friday.
They said opposition from Germany, France, the Czech Republic and Sweden is thwarting Spain’s aspiration to change the policy during its six-month term in the EU rotating presidency, which ends June 30.
Though the common position is set to remain in force, a source with the European Commission said next Monday’s discussion of the issue by EU foreign ministers will center on a “process of reflection taking into account the future of relations with Cuba.”
At the same time, the ministers’ formal findings will include “clear references” to human rights in Cuba and specifically to the February death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata after an 85-day hunger strike, European Commission sources said.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met Thursday in Paris with Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez, who told reporters afterward that Havana did not plan any concessions to induce the EU to change its policy.
Officials in Madrid say Spain’s bid to scrap the common position was derailed by a combination of Cuban President Raul Castro’s unwillingness to make gestures on human rights and the inflexibility of some EU nations.
The EU adopted the common position on Cuba in 1996 at the urging of then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a conservative.
Since taking office in April 2004, the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has worked to improve Madrid’s relations with Havana while trying to persuade Spain’s EU partners to follow suit.
Spain says the EU should replace its unilateral stance toward Cuba with a genuinely bilateral relationship, but without abandoning the goals of fostering democracy and respect for human rights on the island.
Cuba’s foreign minister said Thursday that while the common position is an irritant, deciding whether to maintain the policy or change it is strictly an EU internal matter. EFE

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