Statement on U.S.-EU Understanding on Expropriated Property
Statement by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright,
London, United Kingdom, May 18, 1998

As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

U.S.-EU Understanding on Expropriated Property

I am pleased that the United States and the European Union have reached a path-breaking Understanding that will inhibit and deter the acquisition of expropriated property around the world, including Cuba.

This arrangement sends a strong signal of support for the protection of property rights. It advances emphatically a high-priority goal of the Administration, one we share with many in the Congress, including the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Helms, and Senator Coverdell.

The disciplines which we each will apply are multifaceted: no government loans, no government grants, no subsidies, no fiscal advantages, no government guarantees, no government political risk insurance, no government equity participation, and no government commercial advocacy in support of investments in illegally expropriated property; joint or coordinated approaches to the expropriating state; and more. A Registry of Claims will be established for those who contend that their property was illegally expropriated, commercial assistance will need to take appropriate account of information on the Registry in considering applications for commercial assistance. And as for any property that may be illegally expropriated in the future, each of us will add to these disciplines an outright ban on investments.

The Europeans now acknowledge that one of the primary tools that the Cuban regime used to expropriate property from U.S. citizens appears to have been contrary to international law. In this regard, we have established a special provision dealing with what the Understanding calls countries with "an established record of repeated expropriation in contravention of international law"." Under this provision, EU commercial assistance agencies - institutions like our OPIC and Eximbank - will review applications for commercial assistance (e.g., political risk insurance) in Cuba, so as not to assist projects involving the acquisition of illegally expropriated property. The Europeans and we have agreed to maintain close contacts on the implementation of this provision.

This Understanding advances in a most significant way the goals of the supporters of the Helms Burton Act, such as the co-sponsors Senator Helms and Congressman Burton, along with Senator Torrecelli, Members of Congress Gilman, Menendez, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart, as well as many others. The disciplines that the EU and we have adopted can do more than the U.S., acting alone, can do to advance the interests of U.S. claimants and to protect investors around the world.

The Understanding will also ensure that Castro is not able to put illegally expropriated U.S. property on a fire sale in a desperate effort to undo the results of 38 years of political repression and economic mismanagement. For these reasons, the Administration intends, as indicated in the April 11, 1997 Understanding between the U.S. and the EU, to seek legislation authorizing the President to waive Title IV of the Helms Burton Act with respect to countries implementing the disciplines set out in this Understanding.


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