Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 30, 2005

EU Spurns Dissidents

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:35 am

The following three items epitomize the difference in world-view between the United States and Europe. They also shows how certain European countries like the Czech Republic (part of what Donald Rumsfeld call “New Europe”) are more like America in their world-view than the elites of the EU bureacracy and the “traditional” countries of Western Europe (Rumsfeld’s “Old Europe”).

President Bush made a specific statement of support for unspecified dissidents in his inaugural address: “America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains.” And last month, James Cason, the top U.S. diplomat in Cuba put up a huge display supporting dissidents at the U.S. mission in Havana. It must have been good, because the Castro regime ordered Cason to take it down. Cason has also been holding reception and events for Cuban dissidents, designed to show support for them and call attention to Castro’s treatment of people with opinions.

On the other hand, the EU has just decided to stop inviting Cuban dissidents to their embassies. Only four EU countries objected: the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Three of these are “new Europe” — they know what communism is like because they lived through it.

As usual, former Czech president Vaclav Havel got it right. According to Czech radio,

Former Czech president Vaclav Havel has sharply criticised the European Union for deciding to no longer invite Cuban dissidents to receptions at EU states’ embassies in Havana. The EU has reportedly adopted this position so as to facilitate increased dialogue with the Cuban authorities. However, in an article in France’s Le Figaro newspaper Mr. Havel described the EU’s stance as “diplomatic apartheid.” He said the Union could not have found a better way of tarnishing the ideals of freedom and respect for human rights.

Hat tip: Gongol for the Havel link.

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