This may seem a peculiar thing for the European Union to do. Karimov is infamous for the massacre of over 700 demonstrators at Andijan in 2005, for the boiling alive of dissident Muzaffar Avazov in 2002, for some 10,000 political prisoners held in ex-Soviet gulags, for banning all Western media organisations and reporters, for the imprisonment in lunatic asylums of dissident journalists including his own nephew, for the jailing of HIV campaigners for corrupting public morals...More ...
Petition and information on Karimov's upcoming visit to Brussels: Free Europe embraces the the Uzbek Dictator?
Statement by activists and friends of civil society in Uzbekistan
On January 24, President Islam Karimov will visit Brussels, where he plans to meet with the leadership of the European Union and NATO. Meanwhile, the Belgian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that neither official talks with member of the Belgian Government nor an audience with King Albert II. We learned about this visit not from press releases of the EU and the governments of Belgium, but through private channels. Only a few days ago, the website of the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso posted the headline:
Meeting with the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov which, in turn, links to the biography of Islam Karimov posted by the Uzbek government’s website. The reader can get the following information about Karimov from this ‘biography’:
‘For his outstanding contribution to education in Uzbekistan, creation of a state based on democratic laws, guarantee of civil peace and national accord, and for courage, I. Karimov was awarded the title Hero of Uzbekistan and the awards Mustakillik (Independence) and Amir Temur.’
This is propaganda pure and simple, and President Barroso’s website provided a link to this propaganda.
After we made this public, the Public Affairs Unit of the European Commission deleted the above mentioned link from the Commissioner's web site.
In regard to this, we are concerned by the following three circumstances.
First, EU relations with the Karimov regime seem to be at odds with EU principles of openness. One gets the impression that the EU is borrowing elements from the dictator’s own principles for ruling – of opacity and secrecy.
Second, flirting with the dictator of Uzbekistan, the EU sets a dangerous precedent. If the EU has a visit with Karimov, who will they receive next to discuss ‘water-energy issues’ or the like? Alexander Lukashenko, Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, Than Shwe?
Finally, we are concerned that the attitude of EU leaders towards Karimov during the visit will be complimentary, and that the EU will miss the opportunity to impress upon the regime the need to improve its human rights record. More ...
As President of Eurasian Transition Group, a EU-based institution that focuses on the political and civil development in Central Asia, I am writing you on behalf of your upcoming meeting on January 24 with the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Islam Karimov.
Like many other EU organizations, ETG is deeply concerned by the official visit of a dictator to the European Commission and to you personally, a person who is responsible for many human rights violations as torture, the killing of innocent people in Andijan, repression of Uzbek citizens and their family members, state-ordered child labour.
The whole process of Karimov’s state visit to Belgium is violating the EU’s commitments to openness and transparency: Only through private channels the international community was informed in advance about the visit, while the European Commission tried to cover the event in silence.
Secondly, the official visit of President Karimov violates the „Central Asia Strategy“ of the European Union, ratified by all member governments, where the respect for human rights, transparency and openness are substantial for intensifying the bilateral relations between the EU bodies and the states of Central Asia.
ETG agrees with the fact, that rejecting any cooperation and dialogue with authoritarian regimes would not help the suffering citizens in those countries. But granting a dictator with an official visit to the European Commission might in fact open the door for further human rights violations in Uzbekistan and other repressive states and I am asking you whether or not you would be willing to give the leaders of Sudan, Belarus, Myanmar and Iran also a warm welcome in Brussels.
Talks between members of the European Commission with Uzbek authorities alone are not to be criticized by us. In fact, it is the procedure of preparing Karimov’s visit, that concerns us deeply. I am quite confident that our position would not have been so negative, if for example the Commission in preparation for new consultations with the Uzbek Government would have invited international human rights organizations, Uzbek activists living in exile (the ones in Uzbekistan are arrested or are not allowed to leave the country), Western experts on Uzbekistan for consultations with you and your office, having an open discussion about the current situation in the country and the possibilities for the EU in this respect. With such a transparent openness, the Commission’s position concerning Karimov’s visit would have been much more coherent with the basic principles of a EU foreign policy.
We also had to learn, that the European Commission does not seem to be able to provide the EU public with an objective and independent CV of President Karimov. The web presence of your office is linking directly to a propaganda CV by the Uzbek authorities, saying that President Karimov is responsible for the „creation of a state based on democratic law, guarantee of civil peace and national accord“.
I personally cannot believe that the European Commission supports such a statement. But if not, why is the Public Affairs Unit of your office unwilling to give a more accurate picture of the man, you are going to welcome next Monday?
Summarizing the already said, ETG and other organizations and individuals are deeply concerned about the Commission’s policy towards the authoritarian regime in Uzbekistan.
Michael Laubsch, President Eurasian Transition Group
Западные НПО, занимающиеся Центральной Азией, и особенно правозащитники крайне негативно восприняли известие о готовящемся 24 января визите президента Узбекистана Ислама Каримова в Брюссель. Удивление по поводу готовности европейцев расстелить красную дорожку перед лидером государства, систематически критикуемого за грубые нарушения прав человека, выражают и эксперты. Руководитель неправительственной организации Eurasian Transition Group Михаэль Лаубш (Michael Laubsch) только что вернулся из Брюсселя. В интервью Deutsche Welle он рассказал о причинах, побудивших Евросоюз официально принять Ислама Каримова на высшем уровне.More ...
The visit, following an EU decision last year to lift sanctions on Uzbekistan, marks a new stage in the rehabilitation of Mr Karimov who was castigated by the west for ordering a brutal police crackdown on a protest in the city of Andizhan in 2005.More ...
On the eve of your first official visit to Brussels in years, President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, you deserve high praise. You have played the long game expertly and outmanoeuvred European foreign-policy makers so deftly that you have become a model of how to shrug off international pariah status.More ...
So it appears that Ukraine and Russia have finally come to terms on a Gas Transportation deal that will allow the former Soviet state to receive gas and send it on to Western Europe. This is just the latest in a long line of dramas involving the transport and ownership of energy reserves between the triangle of Russia, Central Asia, and the EU. For Russia must first acquire most of the gas it sells to Europe from its former Soviet states to its south, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.More ...