Skip to comments.Czech Republic Blocks EU Attempt to Freeze Out Cuban Dissidents
Posted on 02/09/2005 2:35:55 PM PST by FlyLow
(CNSNews.com) - Amid moves by the European Union to soften its diplomatic stance towards Cuba, the Czech Republic, an E.U. newcomer, has stymied an attempt to ban Cuban dissidents from attending receptions at European embassies in Havana.
The Prague Post called the achievement Czech's "first foreign-policy victory since joining the E.U." on May 1 last year.
The E.U. froze diplomatic ties with Fidel Castro's regime after it cracked down on dissidents in March 2003, imprisoning 75 of them. The bloc also resolved to support Cuban dissidents by inviting them to functions at the E.U. diplomatic missions, a move that in turn prompted Castro to freeze ties with the embassies.
Spain's Socialist government last fall spearheaded calls to improve relations with Havana, and Castro subsequently reopened contact with the embassies and freed 14 prisoners. The E.U. last week announced it was lifting the diplomatic sanctions.
Spain had wanted to take additional steps, however, arguing that tensions with Havana could be further eased if E.U. embassies would stop inviting dissidents to receptions.
The Spanish proposal was firmly opposed by the Czech Republic, a former East Bloc country which jettisoned communism in 1989 and whose governments since then have included former dissidents.
Czech officials threatened to use a veto in the 25-member Council of Foreign Ministers, where policy decisions must be agreed upon unanimously. The proposal was then thrown out.
"Considering our totalitarian past, it was unacceptable for us to accept limitations on contact with people who are fighting for democracy," Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda was quoted as telling reporters.
Even stronger words came from another Czech, former dissident-turned-president Vaclav Havel, who in an op-ed published in several European newspapers accused the E.U. of "dancing to Fidel Castro's tune" and dishonoring "the noble ideals of freedom, equality and human rights."
(Excerpt) Read more at cnsnews.com ...
Banning Cuban dissidents from embassy receptions -- how low can you get?
Kudos to the Czech Republic for taking a stand.
!Gracias a Dios!
Thank God some of them refuse to bend over for dictators.
Full text of Havel's editorial in the Miami Herald: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/10754290.htm?1c
(you have to register but they seem to accept bogus personal/email info...)
Czech Republic bump!
The world needs more Czechs.
European Union = LATTER DAY SOVIET UNION!
The Czechs know what the Cubans are going through - they've been there!
Remember the G8 Summits in Prague a few years ago - and the ordinary Czechs just could not understand what the Anti-Globalisation Brigade's problem was.
My gawd, does this EU control everything the member countries can do??
I vividly remember the slightly ludicrous, slightly risqué and somewhat distressing predicament in which Western diplomats in Prague found themselves during the Cold War. They regularly needed to resolve the delicate issue of whether to invite to their embassy celebrations various Charter 77 signatories, human-rights activists, critics of the communist regime, displaced politicians, or even banned writers, scholars and journalists -- people with whom the diplomats were generally friends.
Sometimes we dissidents were not invited, but received an apology, and sometimes we were invited, but did not accept the invitation so as not to complicate the lives of our courageous diplomat friends. Or we were invited to come at an earlier hour in the hope that we would leave before the official representatives arrived, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. When it didn't, either the official representatives left in protest at our presence, or we left hurriedly, or we all pretended not to notice each other, or -- albeit on rare occasions -- we started to converse with each other, which frequently were the only moments of dialogue between the regime and the opposition (not counting our courthouse encounters).
This all happened when the Iron Curtain divided Europe -- and the world -- into opposing camps. Western diplomats had their countries' economic interests to consider, but, unlike the Soviet side, they took seriously the idea of ''dissidents or trade.'' I cannot recall any occasion at that time when the West or any of its organizations (NATO, the European Community, etc.) issued some public appeal, recommendation or edict stating that some specific group of independently minded people -- however defined -- were not to be invited to diplomatic parties, celebrations or receptions.
But today this is happening. One of the strongest and most powerful democratic institutions in the world -- the European Union -- has no qualms in making a public promise to the Cuban dictatorship that it will re-institute diplomatic Apartheid. The EU's embassies in Havana will now craft their guest lists in accordance with the Cuban government's wishes. The shortsightedness of socialist Prime Minister José Zapatero of Spain has prevailed.
I can hardly think of a better way for the EU to dishonor the noble ideals of freedom, equality and human rights that the Union espouses -- indeed, principles that it reiterates in its constitutional agreement. To protect European corporations' profits from their Havana hotels, the Union will cease inviting open-minded people to EU embassies, and we will deduce who they are from the expression on the face of the dictator and his associates. It is hard to imagine a more shameful deal.
It is suicidal for the EU to draw on Europe's worst political traditions, the common denominator of which is the idea that evil must be appeased and that the best way to achieve peace is through indifference to the freedom of others.
I firmly believe that the new members of the EU will not forget their experience of totalitarianism and nonviolent opposition to evil, and that that experience will be reflected in how they behave in EU bodies. Indeed, this could be the best contribution that they can make to the common spiritual, moral and political foundations of a united Europe.
Václav Havel is former president of the Czech Republic.