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Last Updated:[05-11-2009 07:55:39 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

EU Won’t Seek Regime Change in Cuba but Compliance to Rights

tradenews A visiting EU official said after meeting with the Cuban President Raul Castro that the EU was not looking at a regime change in the communist Cuba, but expected progress on human rights for both sides to advance beyond last year’s lifting of sanctions. The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Karel De Gucht told Castro, though the EU accepted the definition of human rights varied from country to country, but there was a set of fundamental rights that were universal in scope which had to be respected.

While speaking to the press on the concluding day of his four-day visit, Gucht informed he had clarified to Castro that the EU's so-called ‘Common Position’ towards Cuba could only change if there was a consensus among the EU's 27 members. Havana is opposed to the so-called ‘Common Position’ of the EU states which stipulate upholding of global human rights standards and making substantial progress in the democratic process to normalize relations with the European bloc.

Cuba which re-established ties last year with the EU after a five-year rift over the Cuban political prisoners, had showed willingness to co-operate on human rights issues in March this year without committing on the political prisoners. Later both sides met in May and were able to arrive at an agreement on the issues related to climate change and the UN reforms but failed to resolve human rights issue.

Cuba differs to term the people who were arrested in 2003 for protesting against the single-party ruled communist regime as political prisoners. On the contrary, the Cuban government has tagged them as the mercenaries working for the US engaged in anti-state activities. Human rights groups say there are about 200 political prisoners in Cuba, but the government denies and claims that all those behind bars were found guilty of crimes in a fair legal process.

Cuba is understood to have state-controlled media and tight travel restrictions. Havana argues that it fulfils basic human rights by preventing hunger and providing free medical care and education.

Nonetheless, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has guaranteed Cuba after it released a political prisoner last month that Spain would push to end the ‘Common Position’ during its six-month turn in the EU presidency starting in January. In a final address, Gucht said a new ‘political format’ for the EU-Cuba relations would be a ‘very fortunate evolution’ but Cuba would have to give something in order to get it, notably in respect to human rights.

By Jose Roy

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