BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has summoned its ambassador to Cuba to return to Brussels to explain himself after he reportedly signed an appeal asking U.S. President Joe Biden to lift sanctions against Cuba and begin normalizing ties with the country.
A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said today that the ambassador, Alberto Navarro, was asked “to come to Brussels to provide explanations.”
He was also instructed “to provide a note detailing the matter,” said the spokesman, Peter Stano.
Stano did not answer a question on whether Navarro will be fired.
The ambassador’s summons to Brussels was first reported by Politico.
Politico reported that 16 European Parliament lawmakers wrote to Borrell asking him to remove Navarro as ambassador, arguing that the diplomat was “not worthy of the high functions he holds.”
“We have received [the MEPs] letter and have requested the ambassador to come to Brussels to provide explanations” to Borrell, said an EU spokesperson in response to questions from POLITICO. “In the meantime, we have asked him to provide a note detailing the matter.”
While the spokesperson did not comment on whether Borrell would sack the ambassador, his summoning to Brussels can be seen as a strong reprimand.
Borrell himself publicly criticized the U.S. embargo against Cuba during a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier this month. However, the fact that a top EU diplomat — seemingly on his own initiative — signed a letter making demands of the U.S. leader raised eyebrows, with the MEPs noting he addressed “a government of a third country, a friend and ally of the EU, to which he is not accredited.” The other signatories of the letter to Biden were mostly ordinary Cuban citizen including artists, professors, journalists and university students.
In their complaint to Borrell, the MEPs called the ambassador’s action “a serious act in a totally unfortunate and erratic line of action regarding what should be the defense of our interests and values.”
“Such a behavior, in addition to being inappropriate, is completely alien to the functions and standards of conduct that should govern a diplomatic representative of the EU,” wrote the MEPs, who included the European Parliament’s vice president for relations with Latin America, Dita Charanzová, and the vice chair of the center-right European People’s Party group, Esteban González Pons.
“We consider that the current ambassador is not worthy of the high functions he holds and is entrusted with and we strongly request you to proceed with his immediate replacement,” they wrote.
The lawmakers’ complaints included the ambassador signing the open letter to Biden that asked for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.