On 18 February 2008 Fidel Castro announced that he would no longer stand for the post of President and Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban armed forces. His successor is likely to be decided upon by the Cuban Parliament during its inaugural session on 24 February, following the parliamentary elections at the end of January.
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued the following statement on this subject today (20 February) in Berlin:
"Fidel Castro's announcement that he intends to retire from Cuban political life ushers in a new era in Cuba with which we link great hopes. Over the past months we have carefully noted the changes taking place there, including the reform debate in Cuba, Havana's willingness to sign the two UN Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, and individual cases of human-rights improvement. Further change is needed. We would like to see further, more decisive steps. For that reason we express our hope that Fidel Castro's decision to step down will open the door to the peaceful change necessary in political, human-rights and economic terms, and that Cubans themselves will be free to decide their own future. We are willing to support that process, should Cuba so desire, and to use our influence within the European Union to that end."