Swedish-Cuban diplomatic spat escalates

Cuban authorities have expressed growing irritation with Sweden and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. The Swedish ambassador in Havana was called in on Thursday to listen to the Cubans' opinion with regard to the recent bickering.

The row began when Carl Bildt gave a speech to the UN’s Human Rights Council in which he criticized Cuba for its poor human rights record.

The Cuban UN ambassador responded by accusing Sweden of having a blood-stained, imperialist past that involved elements of ethnic cleansing.

Following the ambassador’s outburst, Sweden demanded an explanation and an apology from the Cuban ambassador to Sweden.

But Sweden received nothing like an apology when the Swedish ambassador in Havana was called in for a briefing.

Instead, Cuban authorities expressed great annoyance with the importance attributed to the dispute. Sweden had caused the incident to escalate, according to the Cubans, who added that it was a clear exaggeration to refer to the spat as a diplomatic crisis.

Apart from the war of words, Sweden has also accused Cuban officials of opening Swedish diplomatic post. The Swedish foreign ministry has called on its Cuban counterpart to provide an explanation, which has not yet been forthcoming.

The European Union has expressed its support for Sweden in the ongoing dispute. Relations between Cuba and the EU are frosty and a spokesman for the EU Commission said that the entire Union shared Sweden’s concern for human rights in Cuba.