OSCE Permanent Council No. 608
EU response to the address by Amb. Alain Couanon, Head of the OSCE Centre in Dushanbe
- The European Union warmly welcomes Ambassador Couanon to the Permanent Council and would like to thank him for his presentation today and for his detailed and comprehensive written report.
- The European Union is following the political and economic developments in Tajikistan with great attention. We welcome the commitment of Tajik authorities to the strengthening of human rights, the rule of law and democratisation in the country, as reaffirmed by President Rahmonov in his address to Parliament on 20 April. A number of legislative and administrative acts adopted to continue the democratic reforms in Tajikistan are steps into the right direction.
- We note however, tendencies that fall short of the objectives of strengthening human rights, the rule of law, and democratisation. As Ambassador Couanon stated, this includes a trend towards the consolidation of power with the executive at the expense of the legislative and the judiciary, limitations of media freedom and media pluralism, restrictions of the activities of domestic non-governmental organisations, insufficient progress in fighting corruption, the marginalisation of the opposition, and persisting deficiencies in the legal sector and the judiciary. We also note the growing activism of banned Islamic organisations such as the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, in particular in the North of the country.
- Specifically, we are concerned about the suspension, on 20 April, of the Tajik Union of Journalists for failing to submit activity reports to the Ministry of Justice, and we call upon the Tajik authorities to expedite the Unions’s re-registration. With regard to the draft law regulating the activities of non-governmental organizations, as well as draft laws that affect the freedoms of association and religion, we call upon the Tajik side to ensure that these acts do not serve to restrict the legitimate activities and fundamental rights of Tajik citizens.
- The European Union encourages and calls on the Government of Tajikistan to continue its effort to address outstanding reform issues, in line with OSCE commitments and other international instruments, and to pursue its path towards democratic reforms. We welcome the commitment of President Rahmonov to free, democratic and transparent elections in the upcoming presidential elections in November, and we expect that the ODIHR recommendations in the context of last year’s parliamentary elections will be taken into account in these and other future elections.
- We recognise the fact that the process to form a truly democratic, legal and secular state is lengthy, as President Rahmonov recently said in his address to the Tajik Parliament. However, determination and will can achieve much in this regard even in the short term. Creating an independent Human Rights institution in Tajikistan would be of great assistance in this regard.
- The European Union recognizes the difficult economic circumstances under which Tajikistan is carrying out its reform program. We also recognise the difficult situation with regard to terrorism, drug smuggling, and border security in the country and the region. The European Union is proud to be actively involved, inter alia through its TACIS, CADAP and BOMCA programs, in addressing those issues, and we pledge our continued support in these and other areas.
- With regard to the work of the OSCE Centre in Dushanbe, the European Union welcomes the full range of activities carried out by the Centre in all three dimensions, and encourages it to continue these initiatives. We appreciate the Centre’s re-designed approach to project activities on the basis of a set of managing criteria. Among the many excellent projects carried out by the Centre, we would like to highlight the programme in the politico-military dimension to secure and reduce surplus stockpiles of Small Arms and Light Weapons as well as conventional ammunition and explosive devices in and around Dushanbe. We are looking forward to the continuation and finalisation of the project, which is supported by several Member States of the European Union. While remembering the death of French expert Gilles Sarrazin and his injured Tajik colleague in a tragic de-mining accident, we express our support to the continuation of the de-mining programme supported by the Centre. By enhancing humanitarian, environmental and economic security, these programmes serve as an example of how activities of OSCE field operations in the politico-military dimension can have a positive effect on other dimensions as well.
- Finally, following the recent visits of the Chairman-in-Office and the EU Special Representative for Central Asia in Dushanbe and the Tajik high-level participation in the EU / Central Asia regional political dialogue meeting in Almaty on 7 April, we welcome the reaffirmation by President Rahmonov on 20 April of the will to further develop international relationships and to co-operate closely with international organisations, including the OSCE. We offer our full support and partnership in this regard.
- In conclusion, we would like to thank Ambassador Couanon and his staff for their dedicated and successful work, and we wish them the best of success in their future activities.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process