Human rights concerns about EU trade with Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan Materials 29 June 2006 10:08 (UTC +04:00)

(Jurnalo.com) - Concerns have surfaced among members of the European Parliament yesterday that the EU's interest in Turkmenistan's energy reserves undermines the EU's stance on human rights.

British conservative MEP Martin Callanan told the EUObserver on Monday that after a five day visit to the country, Turkmenistan appeared to be the most repressive country he had ever been to and that human rights standards there simply did not exist, reports Trend.

Earlier this year the European Parliament was asked by the European commission and by member states to ratify a 1998 trade agreement with the Turkmenistan which was needed to replace an old Soviet-era agreement.

The level of EU trade with Turkmenistan is expected to increase over the coming years due to the planned gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea region to Europe.

Bordering Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the 5 million strong predominantly Muslim population of Turkmenistan has been autocratically governed by the former Soviet leader Saparmurat Niyazov since 1991, who has eliminated opposition and free press. He has based his grip on the country on a personal cult that includes naming months after family members.