Introductional remarks by Björn Söder at the Seminar on EU’s support to organisations in Cuba and the PDC-agreement in the Swedish Parliament on June 7, 2023

EU/CUBA Introductional remarks by Björn Söder at the Seminar on EU’s support to organisations in Cuba and the PDC-agreement in the Swedish Parliament on June 7, 2023.

Members of parliament,
Distinguished guests,
Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to today’s Seminar on the European Union’s support to organisations in Cuba and the PDCA-agreement, the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Cuba.

Björn Söder (SD), who arranged the seminar. 

The agreement was signed on 12th of December in 2016 and was approved by the Parliament on 5th of July in 2017. After that, all EU member states, except Lithuania, have ratified the agreement.

Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, Mariano Mena, Luis Zuniga, Hermann Tertsch, Ricardo Ernesto Godoy Peñate, Joar Forssell (L), Yusuf Aydin (KD) and Markus Wiechel (SD) in the panel discussion.

However, the agreement has not led to improvements of the situation of the human rights in Cuba. On the contrary. There are today over 1,400 political prisoners in Cuba.

The European Union also funds various development projects, which critics claim are supportive of repression and flawed totalitarians institutions. Currently, the EU is reportedly funding 80 projects in Cuba to the value of 155 million euros. The funding is directed to organizations linked to the regime.

Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, from the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance (ACR).

However, most of the EU’s support goes through the UN, which brokers the funds. This is happening at the same time when the Cuban dictatorship doesn’t allow special rapporteurs for human rights to travel to Cuba, to visit political prisoners, activists or self-employed Cubans. UN aid is also accused of being used by the regime against the population.

Mariano Mena, President of the University of Latin American Workers.

During the Swedish presidency of the European Council I raised the question with the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Mr Johan Forssell, and in his answer to the written question he opened up to a review of the agreement. Unfortunately, he couldn’t participate in this seminar today and the government chose to not send another representative which I completely regret.

Ricardo Ernesto Godoy Peñate, Parliamentarian from the Republic of El Salvador.

But in the discussion panel later on we will have parliamentarians from other government parties participating.

This seminar addresses criticism of both the agreement and EU funding. What is the way forward? Does Cuba actually live up to the agreement with the European Union? Is the support from the EU that the UN mediates misused?

Hermann Tertsch (Vox), Member of European Parliament, Chairman of ECR Eurolat and Member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the European Parliament.

During today’s seminar we will touch upon these important questions. We will listen to some of the most prominent experts on these issues and hear what they have to say.

I once again welcome you to this important seminar.

Luis Zuniga, former Cuban political prisoner who served 19 years in prison, Member of the United States’ and Nicaragua’s delegations to United Nations in Geneva. 

Markus Wiechel (SD), conclude the discussions.

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