I cannot recall any occasion at that time when the West or any of its organizations (NATO, the European Community, etc.) issued some public appeal, recommendation or edict stating that some specific group of independently minded people — however defined — were not to be invited to diplomatic parties, celebrations or receptions.
But today this is happening. One of the strongest and most powerful democratic institutions in the world — the European Union — has no qualms in making a public promise to the Cuban dictatorship that it will re-institute diplomatic Apartheid. The EU’s embassies in Havana will now craft their guest lists in accordance with the Cuban government’s wishes. The shortsightedness of socialist Prime Minister José Zapatero of Spain has prevailed.
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, and this will frequently entail eliminating even good personal friends of the diplomats in charge of the screening, people whom they have given various forms of intellectual, political or material assistance. It will be even worse if the EU countries try to mask their screening activities by inviting only diplomats to embassy celebrations in Cuba.
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.
The whole article is excellent, but Havel’s conclusion is damning:
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.
It seems like eventually we will be the only world power that is willing to fight for others and for the basic ideals of freedom and democracy.
UPDATE: The EU has other problems too.