Kazakhstan must improve democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law if it wants closer ties with the EU, MEPs said in a recommendation, voted Thursday, for talks on an enhanced partnership and co-operation agreement.
"Progress in negotiating the new agreement must be linked to progress in political reform", says the resolution, insisting that the Kazakh authorities must give binding commitments on ensuring, for example, media freedom, freedom of association, freedom of belief and the independence of the judiciary. The text was drafted by Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D, FI).
MEPs are deeply concerned about apparently politically-motivated detentions such as that of opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov who was sentenced for "inciting social discord". The resolution calls on Kazakhstan immediately to release prisoners convicted on political grounds and to end politically motivated arrests.
The resolution emphasises the importance of EU-Kazakh energy cooperation, in particular to develop the trans-Caspian energy route. It calls on the Council and Commission to support measures to enhance energy security and attract investment in energy projects in the area.
Benefits for citizens and for regional cooperation in Central Asia
The text points out that EU and Kazakh citizens would benefit from closer partnership and recommends starting talks on visa facilitation.
It also notes that closer EU-Kazakh ties would help to promote regional cooperation in Central Asia on water management, border management, the fight against extremism and promoting security and development in Afghanistan.
The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the EU countries and Kazakhstan entered into force on 1 July 1999. Negotiations for an enhanced EU-Kazakhstan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement started in June 2011.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution