Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shame on the EU

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel recently criticized the EU for its leniency towards Fidel Castro's dictatorship. It seems the EU has decided to ban Cuban dissidents from attending EU-embassies' receptions and dinner parties, so as not to disturb their relationships to the Cuban dictator -- all in the name of European big business.

Havel asks us to imagine what will happen:

Try to imagine what will happen: At each European embassy, someone will be appointed to screen the list, name by name, and assess whether and to what extent the persons in question behave freely or speak out freely in public, to what extent they criticize the regime, or even whether they are former political prisoners. Lists will be shortened and deletions made

Now I find it appalling that the EU, who so criticized the US for ending tyranny in Iraq, openly advocates the silencing of Cuban dissidents in the name of good business relations. It's purely cynical and hypocritical.

It makes me furious to think of all the waffling and bureaucracy going on within the grey walls of the EU-parliament, when all it amounts to is the refusal to give the very founding democratic principals and rights of Europe to victims of dictatorship in another part of the world. And worse still, actually aiding a dictator by doing so.

Well then why all the hubbub and commotion about the EU Constitution? Why bother with having a constitution if what it says has no meaning for actual living people in actual reality? It's fine to show off a piece of paper and some grand words to go with it. But if you can't or won't implement it in actual life, then what's the point? How cynical can you get?

Vaclav Haval again:

I can hardly think of a better way for the EU to dishonor the noble ideals of freedom, equality and human rights that the Union espouses -- indeed, principles that it reiterates in its constitutional agreement. To protect European corporations' profits from their Havana hotels, the Union will cease inviting open-minded people to EU embassies, and we will deduce who they are from the expression on the face of the dictator and his associates. It is hard to imagine a more shameful deal.


Today, the EU is dancing to Fidel Castro's tune. That means that tomorrow it could bid for contracts to build missile bases on the coast of the People's Republic of China. The following day it could allow its decisions on Chechnya to be dictated by Russian President Vladimir Putin's advisors. Then, for some unknown reason, it could make its assistance to Africa conditional on fraternal ties with the worst African dictators.

Where will it end? The release of Milosevic? Denying a visa to Russian human-rights activist Sergey Kovalyov? An apology to Saddam Hussein? The opening of peace talks with al Qaeda?

Neither the EU or the UN are at the moment fulfilling their grand schemes. And to think that many high-ranking officials within the EU would like to see it as a "counterweight" to "US dominance". Well, I must say supporting dictators and refusing to acknowledge political and human rights activists really does make for a counterweight to toppling dictatorships and helping to build up democratic institutions. So if this is the aim of the EU, I suppose it will have reached its goal. My God, talk about imperialism!

I'll let Vaclav Havel have the last word. Be sure to read the whole text here:

It is suicidal for the EU to draw on Europe's worst political traditions, the common denominator of which is the idea that evil must be appeased and that the best way to achieve peace is through indifference to the freedom of others.

Just the opposite is true: Such policies expose an indifference to one's own freedom and pave the way for war. After all, Europe is uniting to defend its freedom and values, not to sacrifice them to the ideal of harmonious coexistence with dictators and thus risk gradual infiltration of its soul by the anti-democratic mind-set.


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