As Lithuania remains the last country to sign the EU–Cuba agreement, opposition MPs call to use the 'Cuba card' as leverage to get concessions from Brussels.
The parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs voted last week to ratify the EU–Cuba pact signed in 2016, even though MPs of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats left the room in protest.
Homeland Union politicians claim that the agreement would serve Cuba's undemocratic regime. They also called on the ruling parties to use the 'Cuba card' to seek EU support against the Belarusian nuclear plant that Lithuania deems unsafe.
Read more: Baltic states ‘closer’ to joint boycott of electricity from Belarusian NPP
The parliament, Seimas, is due to vote on the agreement ratification later.
During the hearing at the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Linkevičius said the EU's dialogue with Havana is aimed at weakening the influence of China and Russia in the region.
“Other countries, which are far from democratic, like China and the Russian Federation, are very active in that region and they are interested in keeping Cuba in their sphere of influence, and if the EU and Cuba don’t talk, it’s much easier for them to do that,” the foreign minister said.
Linkevičius also noted that by cooperating with Cuba, EU countries would have an opportunity to put political prisoners' rights on the agenda.
He added that although Lithuania is not enthusiastic about the EU–Cuba agreement, it should not block it alone.
Meanwhile conservative MP Žygimantas Pavilionis maintains that by ratifying the agreement, Lithuania would betray Cuban political prisoners and their supporters in US Congress.
The European Union and Cuba's Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement was adopted in Brussels in 2016. Lithuania is the last EU member state which has not ratified the agreement yet.
International agreements are ratified by the Seimas.