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Postupak : 2012/2153(INI)
Faze dokumenta na plenarnoj sjednici
Odabrani dokument : A7-0355/2012

Podneseni tekstovi :

A7-0355/2012

Rasprave :

PV 21/11/2012 - 15
CRE 21/11/2012 - 15

Glasovanja :

PV 22/11/2012 - 13.14
CRE 22/11/2012 - 13.14
Objašnjenja glasovanja
Objašnjenja glasovanja

Doneseni tekstovi :

P7_TA(2012)0459

Debates
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

15. Negotiations for an EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. − The next item is the debate on the report (A7-0355/2012) by Liisa Jaakonsaari, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations for an EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement (2012/2153(INI)).

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari, rapporteur. Mr President, as rapporteur of the EU-Kazakhstan report, I have the pleasure of opening this debate by presenting to you our recommendations on the negotiations. The recommendations we are now dealing with are the result of an intensive process of cooperation with the shadow rapporteurs, including consultation with stakeholders, experts and the valuable debriefings by our chief negotiator, Mr Wiegand. I also would like to thank the INTA Committee for their very good opinion and it has been my endeavour to ensure consistency with our EU policies and strategies on Central Asia and on human rights.

The golden rule that we stressed in Parliament’s March resolution is that economic development must be linked to political development, and therefore progress in the negotiations on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement must be linked to progress in political reforms. In fact, this meets Kazakhstan’s important commitments and obligations to international and European standards.

However, declarations have to be followed up by tangible and concrete steps. In this regard, it was negative news that the appeal of Mr Kozlov was turned down by the court. This appeal process was open but not fair. A serious concern we took note of is the legal move to shut down and ban the independent media outlets, as we heard yesterday. We are very concerned about the further limitation of political freedoms and the independent media and call on Kazakhstan to repeal the vague criminal charge of ‘inciting social unrest’ in its criminal code.

The recommendations focus on three main topics: first on economic cooperation, second on the political dialogue and cooperation, including with regard to security in the region, and thirdly on the really crucial issue of human rights and democracy.

Indeed, economy, trade, investment, energy and security matter for both partners. To extend trade and foreign investment the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers is necessary. The convergence of standards towards EU standards would favour the modernisation or diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy.

On human rights and democracy, the EU and Kazakhstan still need to find a common language during the ongoing PCA negotiations. Kazakhstan needs to bring its legal system fully in line with international standards. Kazakhstan should draw on the assistance and recommendations of the Venice Commission and finally ensure the full implementation of its very good human rights action plan.

We support visa facilitation between the EU and Kazakhstan. In every sense, we give our strong support for legal, academic and vocational training and for cultural exchange programmes, and we call on Kazakhstan to hold an impartial investigation into all recent allegations of torture and ill-treatment in connection with violence in Zhanaozen.

All in all this is a fair and balanced report.

 
  
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  President. − Ladies and gentlemen, I must point out that we should in fact have suspended the sitting at 20.00. We are now running a full 45 minutes behind schedule. I would ask you, therefore, to keep your remarks as brief as possible. My apologies, but we will have to cancel the catch-the-eye procedure at the end of this item today.

 
  
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  Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. − Mr President, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to brief you on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on the latest developments and the European Union’s activities in Kazakhstan. I would like to warmly thank Mrs Jaakonsaari for her excellent report.

Kazakhstan has been an important partner for the EU in Central Asia, not only on trade and economic exchanges, but as a stable country which has a proven track record of inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony and tolerance. The EU has a strategic interest in further deepening our involvement with Kazakhstan and in developing fully the potential for political cooperation; especially considering the rapidly evolving dynamics of regional integration.

Kazakhstan is a pragmatic partner, open to discussions and willing to explore opportunities. The European Union, in return, is a very important trade and investment partner for Kazakhstan: more than half of the total foreign and direct investment in the country comes from EU investors. Over the past years, we have increased cooperation, have had frequent high-level meetings and launched negotiations for a new enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

The negotiation of the new agreement proves the importance of Kazakhstan for the EU, and is the recognition of our strong economic and strategic relations. However, as underlined by the Vice President/High Representative on many occasions before, the enhancement of EU-Kazakhstan relations is not independent of the advancement of domestic political reforms and the protection and promotion of human rights in Kazakhstan. This is a priority for the European Parliament but also for the European Union.

The European Union has been observing the political and human rights related developments in Kazakhstan since the tragic events of Zhanaozen in December 2011 with serious concern. This included the monitoring of the trials of the people accused of inciting or participating in the violent events of Zhanaozen, by the EU Delegation in Astana, in line with the Parliament’s appeals to do so in its resolution of 15 March 2012. We have seen several procedural shortcomings in the trial processes and fear that the verdicts given have been mainly based on political activism and the general involvement of the defendants in trade union or opposition movements.

The High Representative/Vice-President Ashton has encouraged, and will continue to encourage, the Kazakh authorities to review the trial processes, in line with the international commitments and obligations of Kazakhstan. The EU has also called for the right to a free, fair and transparent appeal process for Mr Kozlov and all other defendants.

We fully support Parliament when it calls on Kazakhstan as a member of the Venice Commission, and also as a newly elected member of the UN Human Rights Council, to demonstrate its strong commitment to Human Rights, including the freedoms of speech, of assembly, of association and of religion and belief. The European Union will continue to make this point in all bilateral contacts and cooperation fora, as we did just last week again during the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Committee meeting and will do during upcoming negotiation rounds on the new PCA.

The respect for democracy, the principles of international law, fundamental freedoms and human rights is an essential component of the new EU-Kazakhstan agreement. This means that, once the new agreement enters into force, the violation of this essential element could lead to the suspension of parts or all of the agreement. This is in line with the report where the Honourable Members of the Parliament stress that, although used rarely, the suspension of the application of any PCA is possible in the case of serious breaches of human rights. In this regard, the PCA will strengthen the dialogue with Kazakhstan on human rights through our regular dialogues. Human rights will undoubtedly be raised by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton during her upcoming visit to Astana next week.

As also called for by the report, the Commission services and the EEAS are doing their utmost to ensure that the new agreement is a comprehensive one, with emphasis on political, legal, economic and social reforms. In line with this, our aim is to broaden the scope of our cooperation with Kazakhstan in a number of areas and also help the Kazakh authorities’ reform and modernisation efforts. This includes encouraging Kazakhstan’s efforts for legislative conformity with the EU acquis and WTO rules. Kazakhstan has the EU’s full support for WTO accession, and in particular an early conclusion of the ongoing negotiations.

It is likely that the negotiations on the new PCA will be concluded following Kazakhstan’s WTO accession, so the negotiations of the PCA are based on this assumption. In this regard, the European Union expects that the customs union between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus will not constitute a barrier for enhanced cooperation with the European Union – as also stated in the European Parliament report.

The negotiation of a new PCA is not a simple or short process. Through this process, the European Union is committed to standing alongside Kazakhstan and its citizens, both as a friend and as a partner, on the path of political reform and economic development. In this endeavour, we will continue to provide full information to Parliament, as we have been doing so far. We count on the support of Parliament and we look forward to the resolution that you will adopt tomorrow.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE). – Mr President, on a point of order, I would like to double-check if you have decided to cancel the catch-the-eye procedure on this issue. If that is the case, I kindly ask you to reconsider your decision, because we have been waiting for this item all day, and – at the very least – all those who have already registered should be allowed to speak. Thank you.

 
  
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  President. − Let us see how we progress through the debate and whether we keep to the schedule. I will then make a final decision at the end.

 
  
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  Bernd Lange, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on International Trade. (DE) Mr President, Madam President-in-Office of the Council, I would like to begin by sincerely thanking the rapporteur for what is, in my view, an excellent report which covers the many different facets of our relations with Kazakhstan in a truly outstanding manner. Thank you very much indeed.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, I would like to talk about four aspects which are particularly important to us. First of all, as the President-in-Office of the Council has already mentioned, Kazakhstan is seeking accession to the WTO, and that means, of course, that it must comply with and implement WTO rules. It will also be subject to the WTO’s dispute settlement regime. This is an important step towards transparency and fairness.

Secondly, when we talk about transparency and fairness, raw materials are, of course, an issue of great relevance in this context. Kazakhstan’s economy is geared mainly towards the raw materials sector, so the main priority here is to create workable tax and financial frameworks, but without losing sight of the environmental dimension. The aim must be to ensure that raw materials extraction serves the interests of the people of Kazakhstan but also safeguards the interests of the environment.

Thirdly, this includes the issue of phosphorus, for example. We cannot have a situation in which the export of phosphorus involves the use of dumping practices, ultimately putting a question mark over well-established structures in the European Union. We support trade, but it must take place under conditions which are fair and reasonable.

Fourthly, as in all the trade agreements concluded by the EU, trade also means fair conditions of competition in the fields of workers’ rights and environmental standards. For that reason, we also need to include a sound and viable chapter on sustainable development in the agreement. We want this demand to be reflected in the resolution; that is our firm position.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Jeggle, on behalf of the PPE Group. (DE) Mr President, Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Ms Jaakonsaari, the rapporteur, and also to the shadow rapporteurs for making constructive cooperation possible

As the shadow rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I am a firm advocate of this new and enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement between the EU and Kazakhstan. Both sides wish to enhance their cooperation in order to do justice to Kazakhstan’s extremely important political, economic and geostrategic role in the region. Our values, such as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, are the foundation of all the EU’s relations with its partners in the wider world. The agreement with Kazakhstan should therefore also include unambiguous provisions relating to the protection and promotion of human rights in accordance with international standards.

The EU must follow Kazakhstan’s reform initiatives and offer active support, including technical assistance, for implementing these reforms. Here, the focus should be on establishing an independent civil society and a functioning administration under the rule of law, and developing the education system. A pluralistic political system in which opposition parties and civil society can express their opinions freely and unhindered is the foundation of every democracy.

This enhanced agreement has a particularly important role to play in relation to the diversification of Kazakhstan’s economy and more intensive political relations, especially in this area of tension between east and west; Russia and China should also be mentioned in this context.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), Blue-card question. – Mr President, I would like to ask Ms Jeggle whether she has seen the statement made by the official representative of the General Prosecutor in Kazakhstan just yesterday: he effectively said that he would issue a lawsuit to ban all of the opposition political forces in the country, as well as all of the independent and opposition media in the country. In light of that, does she not think that she can reconsider her support for a PCA at this stage, and that it should be suspended until there is proven improvement in respect of human rights in the country?

 
  
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  Elisabeth Jeggle (PPE), Blue-card answer. (DE) Mr President, we are aware of this statement. We have seen the e-mail from an NGO on this issue and, in the meantime, have also obtained information from the European External Action Service (EEAS). We cannot draw any firm conclusions yet; all that we have is the announcement about these plans. I am informed by the EEAS that intensive enquiries will be made. We have just held an in-depth discussion of the matter in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats). Together with the rapporteur, Ms Jaakonsaari, we have drafted an oral amendment which we will table jointly and would ask the House to support.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, I have to say that my breath is taken away when the Cyprus Presidency tonight calls Kazakhstan, I quote, ‘a pragmatic partner, a friend, having strong strategic relations with the EU’, relations which the Presidency seek to have enhanced.

I met Yevgeny Zhovtis, whom Liisa Jaakonsaari and I campaigned to get released – a human rights leader who has been imprisoned on trumped-up charges. We also met Vladimir Kozlov, the opposition leader, now, as the Presidency rightly says, imprisoned for seven and a half years after a political trial, a trial in which no questions and no exchanges took place in the courtroom and where the judge delivered his verdict in less than two minutes.

Mrs Jeggle, Agence France Presse has confirmed independently that Respublika, Vzglyad, Golos Respubliki, K Plus TV and StanTV are to be banned as supposedly extremist, in what appears to be an attempt to stop independent media.

Mr President, human rights activists would be shocked that the EU is seeking enhanced partnership in these circumstances and I ask the President-in-Office in her reply to confirm there is already a human rights clause in the agreement with Kazakhstan and to say hand on heart that she does not believe it has already been breached.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, first of all, as shadow rapporteur, I want to congratulate Ms Jaakonsaari on this report. Kazakhstan is certainly a big, important country in a strategically vital region for the EU.

Sometimes we choose to work with poor and small developing countries with democratic problems and human rights problems, but countries in Central Asia, and especially this country, are in a different position. Do not forget that they are former Soviet republics. Do not forget that they belong to a different culture. In order to alleviate the situation and to export our standards we must cooperate. If we want to export our values, the key word with a country like this is cooperation. We are asking the impossible if we want them to share these values automatically.

We must certainly criticise; we certainly do not agree with the human rights violations; we are continually calling for the release of political prisoners; but in order to achieve this and to alleviate the human rights situation, we must work together. My position, and that of my group, is that a PCA with Kazakhstan is needed. I believe that it is necessary to work together in the interests of the region through trade, political dialogue and cooperation. I hope we will be able to change and perhaps improve the democratic situation in this country, but if we do not do anything and if we only offer criticism, we are taking a risk that our voice will not be heard. Can you imagine the voice of Russia or China being more powerful in Kazakhstan when it comes to changing the human rights situation? As I have already pointed out, the key issue for relations with such countries is cooperation.

 
  
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  Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (FR) Mr President, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance supports the political message of this report, which calls on the European Union to make signature of the EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement dependent on progress on democracy, respect for human rights and freedom of the press.

I condemn the decision of the Appellate Court in Aktau to sentence the opposition politician Vladimir Kozlov to seven and a half years in prison. His trial, monitored closely by the international community, has been described as staged, as a ‘Soviet-style’ trial. There is absolutely no concrete evidence against Mr Kozlov. He is accused of having spoken out against his country when abroad, in particular in his speeches in the European Parliament. It is unacceptable for opponents and defenders of human rights invited to Parliament to be at risk once they return home and even imprisoned. That calls into question the very credibility of this House.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini, on behalf of the ECR Group. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is important for Europe to conclude an EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement. The country plays a strategic role in the process of modernisation of Central Asia and is the point of contact between Russia and the Caucasus. We hope this agreement can speed up the political and economic reforms necessary for Kazakhstan to accede to the World Trade Organisation, establishing an important trading partner, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, which currently encounter some difficulty in gaining access to the Asian market.

We call on Kazakhstan to make efforts to develop the trans-Caspian energy route, essential for enhancing energy security. We are aware of the progress made by the government in improving the current human rights situation, but there is still much left to do. We believe that this agreement, the media and the social media, supported by transnational initiatives such as the Eurasian media forum, can help progress in this area.

 
  
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  Bastiaan Belder, on behalf of the EFD Group. (NL) Mr President, Parliament is right to insist (see recommendation (u) in the Jaakonsaari report) that Kazakhstan must review its recent religion law and put an end to indiscriminate attacks, hearings, threats and penalties for religious minorities. This government intervention is completely incompatible with the international obligations that Kazakhstan has entered into, and with its own Constitution.

New reports about continuing attacks on churches in Kazakhstan, both registered and unregistered churches, underline the concerns of this House on this matter. Meanwhile the Council of Baptist Churches has reported that this summer some government officials, would you believe, threatened to confiscate homes where unregistered Baptist services were being held.

I have just heard from the Council that the High Representative will hold talks in Astana next week. I would therefore ask the representative of the Council to pass a message to Baroness Ashton that I would very much like to see these serious cases that I mentioned discussed in Astana. That is necessary, if we really want to say something about human rights.

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE). (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I think that this is a good opportunity to have an objective discussion on Kazakhstan and the important agreement the country is negotiating with the EU. Kazakhstan is crucial for the stability and strategic future of Central Asia and is without doubt an important economic and trading partner for the EU. The country has already launched a process of economic and democratic reform, although much remains to be achieved in these areas.

However, the country has shown itself to be committed to further and more far-reaching reforms and I think that the duty of the EU is to support this process. To this end, I am certain that the signing of this enhanced agreement will allow progress to be made, because it will strengthen an already solid and productive relationship and ensure constant assistance from the EU. I am also convinced – and I think that this should have been underlined more clearly in the report to be voted tomorrow – that greater progress in the areas of democracy and human rights should be met by renewed reciprocal efforts that are both open and constructive.

Our aim should not be to place ourselves on a negative footing with this or that country if change is not achieved immediately, but rather to support the efforts by these countries to attain the objective of respect for the principle of human rights.

 
  
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  Joachim Zeller (PPE). (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the EU Strategy for Central Asia came into being five years ago. If we look at the state of implementation of this Strategy today, the outcomes are ambivalent. We see Member States, on an individual basis, endeavouring to cultivate good economic links, particularly with the resource-rich countries in this region, but we also see that the efforts to support these countries’ transition to modern, democratic societies are not progressing, or – as recent events in Kazakhstan show – are marred by setbacks.

Despite, or perhaps because of this, the European Union and its Member States must make more intensive efforts to exert influence jointly in the region, particularly in relation to Kazakhstan, which is now one of the main suppliers of oil to numerous EU countries. Any attempt by the EU to isolate Kazakhstan will simply allow the EU’s competitors for influence in this geopolitically strategic country, who attach less importance to urging respect for human and civil rights, to wield even greater influence than before.

Linkage between economic interests and respect for civil rights is at the heart of the EU Strategy for Central Asia. This should also be the basis for further negotiations on a partnership and cooperation agreement with Kazakhstan. The present report offers a good framework for this process.

 
  
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  Inese Vaidere (PPE). – Mr President, Kazakhstan is a significant trade partner in Central Asia and an influential player within the region itself. Therefore the enhanced PCA has to fulfil the following expectations.

Firstly, it is essential for the European Union to strengthen both political and economic ties with the country. The existing cooperation in the fields of energy, education and others is a good basis for further cooperation. It is crucial that the European Union supports Kazakhstan’s moves towards an improved investment climate, diversified exports and tariff negotiations.

Secondly, the European Union should use the enhanced PCA as a platform to promote improvement of relations between Kazakhstan and other countries in the Central Asia region. Furthermore, it is crucial that the PCA contains provisions for interregional cooperation in the Central Asia region.

Finally, although it is important for the PCA to retain our belief in democratic principles and human rights, we should now also focus on cooperation in order to help to make our principles a reality.

 
  
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  President. − Since I have been asked not to cancel the catch-the-eye procedure, I will now call some of the Members on the relevant list, provided that we finish by 21.00.

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE). – Mr President, first of all I would like to thank our rapporteurs for the draft that we have discussed today. I fully acknowledge the time and hard work that have been put into this report.

At the same time, however, my position, Mr President, is that you should consider postponing the vote on this motion, which is scheduled for tomorrow, because yesterday, as has already been mentioned, the Prosecutor-General made a statement in which he labelled as extremist all the main independent media in Kazakhstan and banned them. His statement clearly blames the media for inciting social hatred and calling for the government to be overthrown.

I am extremely worried by this course of action. This statement cannot go unanswered, and so for the benefit of Kazakhstan I think that we should take this issue seriously. Postponement of the vote is possibly the best solution.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE). (RO) Mr President, Kazakhstan is an important partner of the Union in Central Asia and a factor of stability in the region. The conclusion of a cooperation agreement and a solid partnership would be the next step in the relationship between the two parties. Kazakhstan could become one of the Union’s sources of energy supplies. An extended agreement could increase trade and mutual investment.

In the context of ever-rising energy costs, we must ensure that our sources are diversified so as to prevent crises such as the ones in 2006 and 2009. The Nabucco and AGRI projects are other ways of consolidating the Union’s energy security, and Kazakhstan could contribute to the development of a trans-Caspian energy supply route to Europe. These types of projects must have the full political support of the Member States, however.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, next month marks the first anniversary of the brutal repression and massacre of striking oil workers and their supporters in Zhanaozen. Since then, repression aimed at the political opposition, trade unionists and human rights defenders has been stepped up dramatically. That took a turn for the worse yesterday with the statement by the Prosecutor-General already referred to. In it he accuses the unregistered opposition of extremist actions. He has also filed lawsuits to ban them, together with a host of independent and opposition media outlets.

This is the country in which some Members here want to suggest that the human rights situation is improving and that it just needs to be given a small push further, which a further enhanced agreement would do. I want to draw particular attention to the case of human rights defender Vadim Kuramshin, who was arrested in January 2012 and cleared of all but one minor charge in a jury trial. He has since been rearrested, and could face up to 14 years in prison. The negotiations should be suspended until there is a profound and proven change in the human rights situation on the ground.

 
  
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  Piotr Borys (PPE). (PL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I have twice had the opportunity to visit Kazakhstan to monitor human rights issues. I believe that this agreement is necessary, because we need to regulate our trade and economic relations. At the same time, we must not allow ourselves to forget that the Kazakh opposition is currently in huge difficulties. Vladimir Kozlov has been sentenced to seven years in prison for fighting for the rights of workers who died in the town of Zhanaozen. By way of comparison, the police officers who shot at the workers received five-year prison sentences. We have learnt today that the public prosecutor wants to shut down the activities of all independent media outlets: 23 news and television portals.

I think that we should adopt certain amendments to this report today in order to show that we are seeking to enforce human rights. I therefore call on the Kazakh authorities and on Baroness Ashton and the European External Action Service to take the necessary steps to support the activities of independent media outlets, and I urge us to adopt this agreement, but with amendments that will guarantee respect for human rights in Kazakhstan.

 
  
 

(End of the catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
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  Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, President-in-Office of the Council. − Mr President, I would like to express my appreciation for the open and interesting exchanges we had on Kazakhstan today.

This debate has been very useful and helps the European Union to inform its policy on Kazakhstan.

Relations between the European Union and Kazakhstan are at a turning point since the joint decision to enhance bilateral relations in 2009 and the start of the negotiations for a new PCA agreement in 2011.

Kazakhstan is one of the key partners of the European Union in Central Asia and with the future deepening of the EU’s cooperation with Kazakhstan, there is a need for such open debates and analyses of the EU’s policies towards Kazakhstan.

The European Union has been supporting the reform process in Kazakhstan both in the political and economic spheres since 2007.

We have not only been looking at economic development and business competitiveness in Kazakhstan but also concentrating on good governance and the rule of law.

In parallel, the European Union has been dedicating considerable efforts to the development of civil society as well as engaging on human rights and rule of law issues with Kazakhstan.

This approach of representing the EU’s interests in seeing progress in political reforms and in deepening our economic engagement with Kazakhstan is a balanced one.

This is why we have been surprised and are concerned by the initiative taken by the Almati Prosecutor-General’s office in declaring the Alta Party and People’s Friend Movement as extremists along with eight independent newspapers and 23 internet outlets and banning them.

Of course the European Union supports efforts to combat extremism and terrorist activities. However, combating extremists should not be used to justify restricting human rights. Human rights and the respect for the rule of law are best secured through open dialogue, political pluralism and a vibrant civil society.

You can be sure that I will pass on your comments and your advice to the High Representative/Vice-President who will make a visit to Kazakhstan next week and remains as committed as ever to ensuring that this partnership develops in a way that promotes both economic development and human rights commitments.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D). – Mr President, I just wonder if you could ask the President-in-Office to reply to my point factually.

There is a commitment to human rights in the opening of Article 2 of the current 1999 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Therefore, if we have negotiations for an enhanced agreement, is she really saying that the commitments set out in the 1999 agreement have been fulfilled?

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari, rapporteur. (FI) Mr President, President-in-Office of the Council, the negotiations for the agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU are indeed a test for the European Union with regard to how the soft power of the European Union is used properly, and this is also a test for Parliament with regard to how we will use the opportunity given to Parliament by the Treaty of Lisbon to influence the negotiations.

It was encouraging to hear the address by the High Representative and President-in-Office concerning the fact that the negotiations may indeed be suspended if the human-rights situation is in fact going in the direction implied by yesterday’s news.

I do not regard postponement of the vote as any sort of solution; on the contrary, there must now be clear guidelines for Parliament concerning how the High Representative will proceed, what sort of addresses she might make and what stance she will adopt on the matter during the visit and, above all, how these negotiations will progress. Therefore, Parliament must now have clear guidelines for the negotiations, and it is important that Parliament is kept informed and, as Ms Jeggle suggested, we will request an oral amendment to these presentations tomorrow, given yesterday’s bad news, so that the Kazakh authorities actually rescind the decisions to restrict media freedom and which will in practice make the work of the opposition even more difficult, or perhaps impossible.

I would like to extend my warm thanks for an interesting debate, and I hope and consider it important that Parliament will be kept continuously informed of how the negotiations are progressing; tomorrow we will issue instructions regarding what must be done in the forthcoming negotiations.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I recognise Kazakhstan’s political will and practical actions to strengthen its partnership with the EU and the commencement of negotiations for an EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement. In this context, it is essential to ensure that the new partnership and cooperation agreement is a comprehensive framework for the further development of relations, addressing all priority areas, including human rights, the rule of law, democratisation, youth and education, economic development, trade and investment, energy and transport, environmental sustainability and water, and combating common threats and challenges.

Certainly, there should be close cooperation with Kazakhstan to develop peaceful and progressive relations in Central Asia in order to ensure positive developments in that area. Areas such as water and resource management, border management, the fight against extremism and counter-terrorism should be highlighted. The conclusion of the new partnership and cooperation agreement negotiations will have a positive impact on the deepening of economic cooperation between EU and Kazakh companies, including SMEs, and increase the overall economic benefits for both parties. Attention should also be paid to technical assistance to Kazakhstan in the field of water conservation and management of water resources in general, in the framework of the EU Water Initiative for Central Asia, with a view to improving relations between upstream and downstream countries in the area and reaching sustainable water-sharing agreements. Hopefully, the new agreement will achieve considerable progress.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing. (PL) It is up to all of us to ensure that Kazakhstan becomes a stable democracy and that nothing prevents us from strengthening our economic ties. I welcome the political will and commitment shown by Kazakhstan to deepening further its partnership with the EU. The human rights situation is worrying. In the European Union, human rights are non-negotiable. Respect for freedom, democracy and human rights therefore forms the basis for the deepening of relations between third countries and the EU. In December last year, I organised a seminar on the trials of opposition activists following the events of December 2011 in the town of Zhanaozen. It was with great concern that I listened to accounts of the worsening human rights situation in Kazakhstan. I therefore echo the motion for a resolution in calling on the Kazakh authorities to release prisoners convicted on political grounds and to commit to bringing the legal system fully into line with international standards. All the recommendations included in the motion for a resolution are a prerequisite for the launch of negotiations for an enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement between the EU and Kazakhstan. Specific, measurable, attainable and timely objectives must be set with regard to human rights and democratic principles, aimed at increasing respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Our motion for a resolution contains the first such set of objectives. Now the ball is in the Kazakh authorities’ court.

 
  
  

(The sitting was suspended for one minute)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GEORGIOS PAPASTAMKOS
Vice-President

 
Posljednje ažuriranje: 4. ožujak 2013.Pravna napomena