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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on (a) the recent imprisonment of pro-democracy campaigners in Cuba, (b) the state of negotiations regarding Cuban membership on the Cotonou pact and (c) the recent comments of the European Commission Chargé d'affaires in Havana, that his office has responsibility for political relations with Cuba. [109886]

We strongly condemn the unjust arrests, summary trials and harsh sentencing of citizens peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression in Cuba, and urge the Government of Cuba to release them. EU partners will discuss Cuba's application to join Cotonou once the Commission's technical analysis is complete; recent events will undoubtedly have an impact on these discussions. We hope the newly appointed EU Commission Representative in Havana will play a full part in the EU's relationship with all sectors of Cuban society. Under the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, primary responsibility for the EU's political dialogue with third countries lies with member states.