October 15, 2008
MADRID (AFP) — Cuba's foreign minister warned Tuesday that President Raul Castro will never renounce socialism, just days before Havana holds landmark talks with European Union leaders.
"There has not been reform in Cuba, but a deep social revolution" and "this process has to be continually perfected," Felipe Perez Roque told a press conference in Madrid when asked about reforms undertaken by Raul Castro since he replaced his ailing brother Fidel two years ago.
If the reforms imply that "Cuba is renouncing socialism, we have to say that they are not," he said, following a meeting with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos.
On Thursday, the European Union is to hold its first ministerial talks with Cuba since 2003. The initiative follows the EU's lifting of sanctions against Cuba last June.
Perez Roque expressed optimism that the talks could help improve relations between Havana and Brussels.
"Our country is interested in talks on all issues," he said. "Of course in this exchange the EU has something to say and we are sure it will help the development of our relations."
EU sources said Friday that Perez Roque will hold landmark talks with an EU troika composed of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg and EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel.
Perez Roque said the meeting would take place on Thursday in Paris.
Moratinos said the talks are aimed at "normalising relations between the EU and Cuba."
EU-Cuba relations were frozen in 2003 when the EU imposed sanctions on the island nation in retaliation for the imprisonment of more than 70 dissidents, and the execution of three men convicted of hijacking a passenger ferry and demanding it be taken to the United States.
After a 2005 initiative from Spain to normalise relations, the EU moved definitively on June 19 to establish "political dialogue" and encourage changes carried out by Raul Castro's government.
Last June, the EU moved definitively to establish "political dialogue" and encourage changes carried out by Raul Castro's government.
And last month the Cuban government accepted the resumption of political dialogue with the 27-nation bloc.
The EU's requirements for the suspension of sanctions include an annual review of relations, "improvement of the human rights situation" and the "release of political prisoners, including detainees imprisoned in 2003."
JG: Cuba will continue to defend and improve its socialist system. It surely beats the dog-eat-dog capitalism of the United States.
CUBANISMO PARA SIEMPRE!