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Cablegate: Slovakia Cautious On Cuba

VZCZCXRO6877
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHSL #0012 0131335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131335Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0336
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHSL/AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA 0395

UNCLAS BRATISLAVA 000012

SIPDIS

FOR WHA, EUR/CE, DRL, PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL SOCI CU LO
SUBJECT: SLOVAKIA CAUTIOUS ON CUBA

REF: STATE 131637

1. PolOff delivered reftel points to Martin Podstavek, desk
officer for Latin America at the Slovak MFA. Podstavek
appreciated the information about the recent U.S. engagement
with the GOC, particularly on improving communication
opportunities for the Cuban people. Podstavek said that the
Slovaks have been consulting closely with their Czech colleagues
in advance of the EU discussions on Cuba during the Spanish
presidency. Slovakia will continue to support the balanced
two-track approach, engaging both the GOC and the opposition,
and does not support an extreme position either way.

2. Slovakia continues to prioritize development of bilateral
trade relations; in October 2008 the two countries signed a
bilateral economic cooperation agreement and in April 2009 there
was a mixed commission meeting in Havana. The Slovaks estimate
that the Cubans have unpaid debts to the Slovak government from
the communist era totaling approximately 11 million euros, and
they are actively seeking compensation for these debts. In
2007, Slovakia had a positive trade balance of 25 million
dollars; in 2008 just over 6 million dollars.

3. In October 2008, at our request, the GOS accepted eight Cuban
political refugees from Guantanamo and resettled them in Central
Slovakia with some success. Six of the eight remain. On a
December 2009 trip to Washington, the Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior Robert Kalinak agreed to take an additional
two to four refugees from Guantanamo, and we are continuing to
pursue this second resettlement with the GOS.

4. Generally, Slovakia's position with respect to human rights
in Cuba is threefold. First, the Slovaks believe that human
rights concerns should be raised during high level visits.
Second, the Slovaks believe that GOC should not prevent Slovaks
from meeting with the political opposition. And third, dialogue
with the GOC should not be stalled because of a perceived lack
of progress on human rights.

EDDINS

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