Για άλλη μια φορά ο Πανευρωπαϊκός συντονισμός των οργανώσεων αλληλεγγύης απευθύνεται στα όργανα της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, ζητώντας τον τερματισμό του "ευρωπαικού εμπάργκο" (Κοινής Θέσης) ενάντια στην Κούβα. H επιστολή, που η αποστολή της επαναλαμβάνεται κάθε χρόνο, υπογράφεται φέτος από οργανώσεις 20 χωρών: Αυστρία, Βέλγιο, Βοζνία -Ερζεγοβίνη, Τσέχικη Δημοκρατία, Δανία, Γαλλία, Γερμανία, Ελλάδα, Ιταλία, Ιρλανδία,Λουξεμβούργο, Μάλτα, Νορβηγία, Πορτογαλία, Ρουμανία, Σερβία, Σλοβενία, Ισπανία, Τουρκία και Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο. Aπό τη χώρα μας υπογράφουν ο Ελληνοκουβανικός Σύνδεσμος Φιλίας και Αλληλεγγύης, η Ελληνική Επιτροπή Διεθνούς Δημοκρατικής Αλληλεγγύης και ο Πολιτιστικός Σύλλογος “Χοσέ Μαρτί”.
We are a group of organisations based in Europe working to develop friendship and solidarity between Cuba and our respective countries as well as with the European Union itself.
The last two years has seen a significant change in the attitude of the United States Administration towards Cuba which included the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the visit of President Obama to Cuba in March 2016. Nevertheless there are major issues to be resolved before it could be said that normal relations between the United States of America and Cuba exist.
There have been visits to Cuba by a number of leading European political figures and in turn there have been visits by leading Cuban political personalities to Europe. The European Union has the right and the capacity to play an independent role in encouraging the practical implementation of the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2015 (ending the extraterritorial US-blockade against Cuba) and in hastening further improvements in US-Cuba relations.
These developments have marked a move away from the attitudes towards Cuba which have been evident in the past in the behaviour of various political leaders and the Presidents of the United States. These changes are the consequence of the longstanding isolation of the USA on this issue. This has been acknowledged by President Obama and reflected in the overwhelming votes at successive United Nations General Assemblies against the US blockade of Cuba. The most recent 191-2 vote against the blockade, in October 2015, saw the UN General Assembly acknowledge that the US policy had been a complete failure and was seen as such by the overwhelming majority of member countries.
Progress has been made in the relationships between the EU and Cuba through the signing of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement in March 2016. We hope that this will mark the end of the unjustifiable and unfair policies expressed in the unilaterally adopted EU Common Position.
Critical to the development of better relations must be a clear and unequivocal stance by the European Union against the retention by the USA of any aspects of the punitive and indefensible policies embodied in the anti Cuban Blockade legislation. This should include a clear statement informing the US Administration of the EUs intentions to support the rights of the member states to trade with Cuba without the threat of fines being imposed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Further, we believe that the EU should endorse the right to trade with Cuba and the refusal of any EU companies to pay any fines which OFAC might seek to impose on them for trading with Cuba. All this action would help to implement “Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96 of 22 November 1996”.1
We note that throughout Europe problems have arisen as a result of companies trading with Cuba including the fines imposed in 2015 on a number of major European banks and the fining in January 2016 of the British based company Wimberley Allison Tong and Goo (UK) Limited a subsidiary of WATG of Irvine, California. The Enforcement Information for January 20, 2016 specifically says that they were fined because “the apparent violations caused significant harm to Cuba sanctions programme”.
The British based Cooperative Bank closed the accounts of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. Mr Niall Booker, Chief Executive of the Bank, stated publicly that they had closed the accounts, “because they feared reprisals by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).” In Denmark the company PayPal similarly interfered with and blocked the account of the Danish-Cuban Association. Unfortunately, there are many more examples for extraterritorial effects of the US-blockade on EU-members and citizens, even against civil society organisations. All these actions and more have been justified by invoking the threat of fines from OFAC. Such extraterritorial actions affect the rights of European companies and bodies to act within EU laws without the real threat of being fined by OFAC.
We also believe that the EU should go further and should recognise the independence and sovereignty of Cuba by declaring its full support for the complete and unconditional withdrawal by the United States of America from its illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay and its full restoration of the land to Cuba.
It is our view that the European Union has an important role to play in developing relationships with Cuba based on mutual respect and understanding between sovereign nations.
- AUSTRIA: Prof. Albrecht Konecny (President), Österreichisch-Kubanische Gesellschaft and Prof. Alfred Kohlbacher (President of the Board of Trustees)
- BELGIUM: Alexandra Dirckx, Voorzitter Vrienden van Cuba and President Amis de Cuba; and Isabelle Vanbrabant (President), Iniciativa Cuba Socialista – Belgium
- BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA: Sead Halilovic (President), Association of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian-Cuban Friendship
- CZECH REPUBLIC: Ludvik Sulda (President), Czech-Cuban Friendship Society
- DENMARK: Sven-Erik Simonsen (President), Association Denmark – Cuba
- FRANCE: Jacques Milhas, Pour Cuba Si France
- GERMANY: Harri Grünberg (President), Netzwerk Cuba e.V. (42 member groups); and Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gesellschaft e.V.
- GREECE: Nikos Karandreas (President) Greek Cuban Friendship and Solidarity Association; Despina Markou (President) Greek Committee for International Democratic Solidarity;Natasha Terlexi, "Jose Marti" Cultural Association, Greece
- ITALIA: Sergio Marinoni (President), Associazione Nazionale di Amicizia Italia-Cuba
- IRELAND: Simon McGuinness (National Coordinator), Cuba Support Group
- LUXEMBURG: Joël Wunsch (President), Amistad Luxemburgo-Cuba
- MALTA: Michael Camilleri (President) and Dr. Patrick Tanti (Secretary) Malta Cuba Society
- NORWAY: Mayo Bustos (President), Cubaforeningen
- PORTUGAL: Augusto Fidalgo, Associcao Portugal-Cuba
- ROMANIA: Vasile Orleanu (President) Fundatia AVANGARDA; and Prof. Gheorghe Ungureanu (President) Association ”Fidel Castro”
- SERBIA: Prof. Ljiljana Bogoeva Sedlar (President) Serbian-Cuban Association
- SLOVENIA: Igor JURIŠIČ (President) Slovene - Cuban friendship association
- SPAIN: Paco Calderon, SODEPAZ and Coordinadora Estatal de Solidaridad con Cuba – Madrid
- SWEDEN: Martin Österlin (President), Swedish-Cuban Association
- TURKEY: M. Onur Çuvalci, Cuba-Turkey Friendship Association "José Martí"
- UNITED KINGDOM: Rob Miller (Director) and Bernard Regan (Secretary) Cuba Solidarity Campaign
1 Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96 of 22 November 1996 protecting against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country, and actions based thereon or resulting therefrom (Official Journal L 309 , 29/11/1996 P. 0001 – 0006), http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31996R2271:EN:HTML