Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Czech this out"

The Wall Street Journal Europe cannot resist puns on that nation’s moniker either. However, the editorial that is headed that way makes an important point, one that we have already highlighted on this blog.

With the accession of the post-Communist East European states, the EU’s rather cosy and friendly attitude towards left-wing dictatorships is receiving a knocking.

The most recent development in the highly ethical common foreign policy is the suspension of diplomatic sanctions against Cuba. This move came about as a result of a proposal by the Spanish government.

It is not quite clear whether the removal of diplomatic sanctions was to reward Castro for his "moves towards liberalization" or to encourage those moves. If the first, then there is no evidence for it.

The sanctions were imposed in protest against his arrest of 75 dissidents two years ago. Most of them are still in prison. Nor is there the slightest sign of any change in the 45 year old totalitarian system, even if naïve or silly westerners droolingly go on cheap holidays there.

Opposition to this move came from the new members, whose politicians, no doubt grew up with endless propaganda about the glorious Cuban revolution and its leader, Fidel Castro. (Pity about the other leaders, all of whom have disappeared.)

Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said this in an interview to the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes:

In my view no changes have been taking place in Cuba – or as far as they have been taking place, it is for the worse. However, some politicians in Europe are convinced that this is a chance for the atmosphere in Cuba to change. And … I am sceptical about that.
His views were echoed by his Polish counterpart.

Just as the Wall Street Journal Europe, we are delighted with this injection of sound common sense into political dealings with other countries. But unlike that estimable newspaper, we wish to sound a word of caution.

The East Europeans may be hard-headed and sensible about totalitarianism of all description but their influence is not of the greatest. All they have managed to do is to turn a complete lifting of sanctions into an indefinite suspension. And the EU's "sense of moral direction in dealing with the world’s dictators" remains atrophied.

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