Cuba refuses to issue visa for German MP Markus Meckel
Markus Meckel MP, Member of the Bundestag and Deputy Foreign Policy Spokesperson of the SPD Parliamentary Group
Photo: © bundestag.de
The Cuban government has refused to issue a visa for Markus Meckel MP, Member of the German Parliament - the Bundestag - and Deputy Foreign Policy Spokesperson of the SPD Parliamentary Group.
Meckel had planned to visit Cuba between July 5 and 12 and to meet with representatives of the government as well as of the pro-democracy opposition, churches and civil society.
Markus Meckel has visited Cuba already in 2003. Since then he has been committed to raise issues of human rights, freedom and democracy in Cuba. Meckel has repeatedly criticized the Cuban government for their repressive practices towards opposition and civil society and called for the release of all political prisoners.
"Apparently does the Communist regime welcome only those guests to Cuba who do not pose critical questions and do not want to meet opposition and civil society representatives", Meckel assessed. "According to recent Council conclusions, it is the official policy of the EU to consistently address human rights issues and to meet with the peaceful pro-democracy opposition during high-level visits", he continued. Political freedoms like the freedom of expression, association and assembly have so far remained severely restricted under the leadership of Raúl Castro.
Referring also to his personal experiences in GDR times, Meckel underlined that "democratic change cannot be created from outside Cuba but within the country. It must take root amongst the Cuban people". Meckel had co-initiated the founding of the Social Democratic Party in the GDR and had taken a leading role in the Peaceful Revolution of 1989. He stresses that "support for civil-society activities and institutions, for the development of free and uncensored media and for the democratic political movements is central in forming a broad basis in society for democratic change and a self-determined future for the Cuban people."
The EU Council on General Affairs and External Relations had last been concerned with relations to Cuba at its 2951st meeting on 15/16 June 2009 in Luxembourg and assessed them in the context of the annual review of its 1996 common position on Cuba. Among others, the Council adopted the following conclusions:
"3. The Council reaffirms its determination to pursue a result-oriented comprehensive dialogue with the Cuban authorities as well as with representatives of civil society and peaceful prodemocracy opposition in accordance with EU policies. The EU reiterates the right of the Cuban citizens to decide independently about their future. The Council reaffirms that its policy for EU contacts with the peaceful prodemocracy opposition remains valid. During high-level visits, human rights issues should always be addressed; when appropriate, meetings with the peaceful pro-democracy opposition will be part of high level visits. In this context the Council calls upon the Cuban government to allow for unimpeded contacts with civil society in the margin of high level visits.
4. The Council remains seriously concerned about the lack of progress in the situation of human rights in Cuba, in particular in the field of civil and political rights, and political reforms. This issue is one of the EU's key priorities. The Council reaffirms that the EU will further continue to offer support to all sectors of society in order to promote respect for human rights and real progress towards pluralist democracy in Cuba. The Council urges the Cuban Government to release unconditionally all political prisoners, including those who were detained and sentenced in 2003. For humanitarian reasons, the Council expresses its particular concern for prisoners with serious health conditions. The Council calls upon the Cuban authorities to facilitate immediate access of international humanitarian organizations to Cuban prisons."