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Tuesday, 19 February 2008 - Strasbourg OJ edition

An EU Strategy for Central Asia (debate)

  Cem Özdemir, rapporteur. − (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, first I want to thank all the colleagues who took part in this debate and to give thanks also for the input of the committees asked for their opinion and, of course, for the Chair of the Delegation, Mrs Juknevičienė. I am also grateful to those who tabled amendments. Mrs Jeggle has already referred to the amendment on the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan, which we very much welcome. I find myself obliged to point out, however, that we note with concern that opposition politicians and journalists in countries that are neighbours of Uzbekistan are dying in mysterious circumstances. That should also be addressed in this connection.

The crucial question is this: how can we transmit our values without denying our own interests in the matter? This is precisely where the European Union has an opportunity, because we simply have more to offer than dependence or even exploitation of these countries. The simple and acute question is how we can combine long-term stability with democratic development. In that area, there is still great potential for developing a genuine partnership between the Central Asian republics on the one hand and the European Union on the other. We are looking at nothing less than a total package of economic and democratic development, together with cultural and scientific exchange, which, however, gives clear priority to protection of the environment and the development of civil society.

Let me briefly address one point I am sure is known to all of you: the environmental disaster on the Aral Sea, which has since become known beyond the region and is one of the greatest environmental disasters in the world. The countries concerned will not be able to resolve this problem without our help. Here too we must demonstrate our solidarity and do our part to help.

There is good news too, when we remember that we have an important partner in Turkey, which is a close neighbour and, as a country that wishes to join the European Union, can contribute its expertise to the joint development of a strategy.

The success of the European Union can also be measured by the extent to which it manages to develop a coherent strategy for Central Asia. If it wants to be a global player, the European Union must also develop a strategy within which it formulates its common interests.

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