Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Conservative MEP condemns Government appeasement of Castro

31st January 2005

Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative Spokesman on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, has today condemned the British Government for supporting a change in EU policy towards Fidel Castro. Dr Tannock said:

"The decision by the British Government to support a Spanish plan which will mean denying Cuban dissidents and human rights and democracy activists the right to attend national day receptions in EU embassies in Havana is disgraceful. Along with over 100 fellow MEPs, I have written to the President of the Council and the Commission President Josť Manuel Barroso condemning in the strongest possible terms this appeasement of the Cuban regime.

"The EU must not revise its policy towards the Cuban dictatorship in a way which gives the regime the final say about whom we are allowed to invite or not invite to the British Embassy or the EU Delegation in Cuba. Such a change would send all the wrong signals to Havana and do enormous harm to the cause of democratic reform in that country. The plight of political prisoners in Cuba remains a key issue, particularly the case of Oswaldo Paya, the 2002 Sakharov Prize laureate, who has been repeatedly forbidden to come to the European Parliament.

"I want to praise the courageous stance of former communist countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic for standing up to this brutal last remaining communist dictatorship.

"The British Government's so-called 'ethical foreign policy', already in tatters, would be fatally undermined if it continues to appease a cruel dictatorship by supporting this plan."