On January 17, during its first session in 2024 the European Parliament is expected to vote on a draft resolution on the EU strategy for Central Asia. The draft resolution, in particular:
- expresses concern about widespread impunity for human rights violations, persecution of journalists, bloggers, human rights and civil society activists on charges of alleged extremism and dissemination of false information;
- calls on Central Asian governments to comply with their international human rights obligations;
- calls on the EU delegations to Central Asian countries to actively monitor the local situation, attend court hearings, work with human rights activists and respond to human rights violations and political persecution, and visit political prisoners.
Turkmenistan remains the only Central Asian country without a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the EU, which limits the scope for bilateral engagement. While the PCA with Turkmenistan was signed in 1998, the European Parliament still has not given its consent to ratify the agreement due to Turkmenistan’s limited progress on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
While addressing the situation in Turkmenistan directly, the draft resolution:
- stresses that Turkmenistan needs to demonstrate an improvement in its dire democracy and human rights record in order for Parliament to reconsider its position and ratify the PCA;
- calls on the authorities of Turkmenistan to release the political prisoners: Omruzak Omarkuliev, Murat Dushemov, Murat Ovezov, Mansur Mingelov, Nurgeldy Khalykov;
- urges the Turkmenistan Government to decriminalise consensual sexual relations between men;
- notes that it should be in Turkmenistan’s interest to open up in order to avoid being the outlier in the region with limited options for cooperation;
- recognises the potential of mutually beneficial cooperation in areas such as energy, connectivity and trade, and welcomes Turkmenistan’s expressed interest in supplying gas to Europe by means of building a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline.