Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 20th July 2005.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Hammersmith and Fulham

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 June 2005, Official Report, column 1583W, on Uzbekistan, what response the Uzbek Government made to the General Affairs and External Relations Council's call on 13 June 2005 on the Government of Uzbekistan to convene a parliamentary committee to investigate the unrest in that country; and what the policy of the UK Government is on the partnership and co-operation agreement.

Photo of Douglas Alexander Douglas Alexander Minister of State (Europe)

On 13 June 2005, the EU's General Affairs External Relations Council (GAERC) called on the Uzbek Government to allow an international independent inquiry into the events of 12–13 May 2005 in Andizhan. The Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, responded to the repeated calls of the international community to allow such an investigation by creating a parliamentary committee, and inviting diplomats from the US, France, Russia, China and Uzbekistan's regional neighbours to observe its work. We and our EU partners, however, considered this an inadequate response, on the grounds that the enquiry needed to be external and independent.

The partnership and co-operation agreement (PCA) enshrines the basis of EU-Uzbekistan relations: mutual respect for the principles of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. There is growing evidence, such as the recent Office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report, which draws on the testimony of eyewitnesses now in Kyrgyzstan, that the Uzbek authorities used disproportionate and indiscriminate force in Andizhan. As presidency of the EU, we and our partners have condemned the Uzbek leadership for breaching these principles.

The EU is currently reviewing certain trade-related elements of the PCA, and cancelled the sub-committee on Trade and Investment meeting scheduled for 13 July 2005. We have also delayed consideration of President Karimov's March 2005 proposals for a further deepening of EU-Uzbek relations under the PCA.

On 18 July 2005, the GAERC invited Mr. Jan Kubis, the EU's newly appointed special representative for Central Asia, to visit the region as soon as possible. The EU will consider further appropriate action in the light of Mr. Kubis' report. The GAERC will, in particular, keep under review the case for suspension of further elements of the PCA, the introduction of an embargo on exports to Uzbekistan of arms, military equipment which might be used for internal repression, as well as other targeted measures.

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