Statement by John Clancy, spokesperson of Louis Michel, on EU/Cuba relations
End production: 05/03/2008 First transmission: 05/03/2008
Ahead of a two-day planned visit to Havana, John Clancy, spokesperson of Louis Michel, Member of the EC in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid, said that the objective of this mission by Louis Michel was to try and advance the political dialogue process with the Cuban authorities. He said that they wanted to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Cuban authorities, and to particularly focus on issues of common mutual interest, from human rights, social political issues, to the environment, climate change and even disaster preparedness. Relations between the EU and Cuba soured in 2003 when Brussels froze diplomatic contacts after Havana arrested 75 dissidents, many of whom had been invited to national day receptions at European embassies. The EU held exploratory talks with Cuba in September on resuming closer ties and agreed on a meeting early in 2008 ahead of the 16-17 May EU/Latin America Summit.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the European Commission building - EU flags
||John Clancy, spokesperson of Louis Michel, Member of the EC in charge of Development and Humanitarian Aid, (in ENGLISH) on the objective of the mission;
saying that the main objective of this mission by Louis Michel to Havana is to try and advance the political dialogue process with the Cuban authorities; they want to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Cuban authorities, and to particularly focus on issues of common mutual interest; that can be from human rights, social political issues to the environment, climate change and even disaster preparedness
||John Clancy (in ENGLISH) on the question of why it is that the European Commission feels that European engagement is important;
saying that Louis Michel feels that it is the right time to engage with Cuba at a political dialogue level to try to find this constructive dialogue with the Cuban authorities; in recent weeks, they have seen some positive steps and they need to recognize these steps as positive; for example, the Cuban government signed two UN conventions on human rights and social affairs; these are important steps; also, around the middle of February, a number of political prisoners were released by the Cuban authorities; together, these steps are positive signs and they need to try to encourage these steps when they occur; any similar steps that the Cuban authorities would take in the very near future or in the longer-term future would of course be welcomed by the EU
||John Clancy (in ENGLISH) on the new Cuban regime;
saying that this change does constitute a new situation; Louis Michel has already expressed his very keen willingness to work with the new President Raoul Castro to try and find this engagement for a constructive political dialogue; at the same time, Louis Michel is very keen that any dialogue that they have with the Cuban authorities is reciprocal; it should be two way; so they are also willing to listen and learn about the possible changes that have been mentioned quite often in the media by President Raoul Castro, some changes within the administration or at economic level; they would be interested to learn a little bit about these potentials proposals
||John Clancy leaving the press room