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Turkmenistan

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with representatives of the Government of Turkmenistan following the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (127611)

Our ambassador, and other EU ambassadors resident in Ashgabat, met the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, on 15 February.

Also on 15 February, the EU special representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, met President Berdymukhamedov. The talks focussed on possible future co-operation between the EU and Turkmenistan on the areas of reform announced by President Berdymukhamedov during his inauguration speech, including healthcare, education and agriculture.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with independent observers of the presidential election in Turkmenistan held on 11 February 2007. (127612)

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights sent a technical assistance team to Turkmenistan for the presidential election. The UN also visited Turkmenistan in the period of the presidential election and discussed possible electoral reform with the Turkmen authorities. However, neither sent an observation mission to the presidential election in Turkmenistan on 11 February.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her Ministerial colleagues have had with (i) EU counterparts and (ii) other governments in the region of Turkmenistan, following the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (127613)

We are working closely with our EU partners on how the EU can best support and assist the Government of Turkmenistan to implement democratic and human rights reforms following the presidential election on 11 February.

The EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, met President Berdymukhamedov on 15 February and later that day saw the Foreign Minister, Rashid Meredov, with EU Ambassadors. The EU stands ready to co-operate with the Government of Turkmenistan to help support the implementation of the government’s reform programme, particularly in the areas of rule of law and social development, agriculture, economy, education and the environment. An EU-Turkmenistan Seminar on Social and Human Development will take place in April. This will also involve other international organisations and UN agencies.

Our Ambassadors in the region discuss regional and country specific issues with their host foreign ministries on a regular basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her Ministerial colleagues have had with the UN Human Rights Council on proposed visits to Turkmenistan following the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. (127614)

We very much welcome the suggestion that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and the Rapporteur on Religious Freedom visit Turkmenistan. However, to date, we have had no direct discussions in the UN Human Rights Council on this issue. The timing and agenda for such visits depends on the Government of Turkmenistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions (a) she and (b) her Ministerial colleagues have had with representatives of the government of Turkmenistan on travel restrictions and the imprisonment of dissidents. (127615)

There have been no recent discussions with the Government of Turkmenistan specifically on travel restrictions or the imprisonment of dissidents. However, during his latest visit to Turkmenistan, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, raised the issue of human rights. Our Ambassador in Ashgabat also raises the issue of human rights at every appropriate opportunity and the Embassy continues to follow developments in this area, supporting individual cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of the election of Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov for relations between the UK and Turkmenistan. (127689)

Following the election of President Berdymukhamedov, there have been welcome signs of a new commitment to reform in Turkmenistan. The UK stands ready to work closely with our EU and international partners to support and encourage this reform, particularly in the areas of rule of law and social development, agriculture, economy, education and the environment. An EU-Turkmenistan seminar on social and human development is planned to take place in April. With possible forthcoming visits from the UN Commissioner on Human Rights and the Rapporteur on Religious Freedom, there is potential for closer relations in a number of areas than in the past.