Cuba urges Europe to change 'obsolete' policy

10th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

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

"The (EU) common position must change because it amounts to interference and is obsolete," said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez following talks in Paris with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The Paris talks were held ahead of a meeting Monday in Luxembourg of EU foreign ministers who are to decide whether they want to change their so-called common position toward Cuba.

Havana has long objected to the European Union's insistence that the regime must show progress on human rights and democracy before it can hope to improve relations with the 27-nation bloc.

Spain has argued that the EU position has yielded few results since it was adopted in 1996 and should be abandoned altogether, but it faces opposition from Sweden, the Czech Republic and other EU nations.

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

Cuban authorities "have not made the gestures we were waiting for, notably in terms of human rights and fundamental freedoms," said the French foreign ministry's deputy spokeswoman Christine Fages.

"In these conditions it is not possible to take a new step forward."

Moratinos, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, described the meeting with the Cuban foreign minister as "constructive, positive even though there continue to be some differences."

The meeting was originally scheduled for Madrid in early April but was postponed after the death of leading Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata who died after a long hunger strike.

Madrid wants to negotiate a EU-Cuba cooperation agreement, but opposition stiffened within the EU following Zapata's death in February and a wave of prison sentences for dissidents.

© 2010 AFP

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