“Even if the switch to his brother Raul Castro probably won’t lead to any immediate large changes, we hope this will introduce a shift towards democracy,” Bildt said in a statement.
“Fidel Castro’s resignation marks the end of an era that began with huge hopes but ended with oppression,” he pointed out.
“The people of Cuba have the same right to freedom and democracy as all other people,” Bildt said, adding that “our great hope is that new possibilities to develop in this direction will also create new possibilities for cooperation between Cuba and the rest of the world.”
Alexis Gainza Solenzal, a Cuban exiled in Sweden who edits the magazine Miscelaneas de Cuba, said “I don’t expect any development towards democracy.”
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen hailed Castro’s resignation, saying he would not miss him on the political stage.
“There is reason to hail with great satisfaction” Castro’s decision to renounce power in Cuba, which “can only be a step in the right direction,” the head of Denmark’s centre-right ruling coalition told reporters.
Rasmussen said he hoped Castro’s departure would lead to “the beginning of reforms in Cuban society and gradual liberalization for the population.”
The former leader of the island nation “will not be missed politically,” he added.