EU Statement in response to the report of the Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, Ambassador John MacGregor

OSCE Permanent Council 1432, Vienna, 13 July 2023

The European Union warmly welcomes the Head of the OSCE Centre in
Ashgabat, Ambassador John MacGregor, to the Permanent Council and thanks
him for his comprehensive report.

We appreciate the Centre’s activities and achievements, especially in light of
Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine,
which endangers the collective security and stability in the entire OSCE area
and has significant consequences for the societies and economies of Central
Asian countries.

We take positive note of the good cooperation between the Centre and the host
country. In this regard, we welcome the recent visit of OSCE Secretary General
Schmid to Turkmenistan, where she jointly presided over the ceremonial
inauguration of the Centre’s new premises with Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa

We appreciate Turkmenistan's active engagement with the Centre, which plays
an important role in promoting and facilitating the implementation of all OSCErelated commitments by Turkmenistan. We also welcome the Centre’s
cooperation with the EU Delegation in Turkmenistan, and other international
organisations in planning and implementing programmatic activities.

In the first dimension, we support the Centre’s assistance in enhancing
Turkmenistan’s capacity to combat transnational threats, including the flow of
illicit commodities, international organised cybercrime, terrorist use of the internet, money laundering, and the financing of terrorism. In this regard, we
welcome the organisation of the second national training on document security
for the officers and teaching staff of the State Migration Service and the State
Frontier Service of Turkmenistan, under the EU-funded Border Management
Programme in Central Asia. We also commend the Centre’s work in
strengthening border service capacities and fostering trans-border cooperation,
including through an ExB project supported by several EU Member States. We
particularly appreciate the Centre’s strong regional focus in this area, illustrated
by the organisation of seven regional training workshops for border security
officials from the five Central Asian countries.

In the second dimension, we encourage the Centre to continue its focus on
improving good governance, including good environmental governance, which
contributes to sustainable development and economic growth. We support
continued work on preventing and combating corruption, enhancing energy
security, and assisting the host country in aligning its legislation on anti-money
laundering and countering-financing of terrorism with the Financial Action Task
Force standards. Pursuing economic and trade connectivity is a valuable effort,
and we commend the Centre for providing a platform for dialogue among
government officials, together with the Office of the Co-ordinator of the OSCE
Economic and Environmental Activities (CoEEA). We also commend the
Centre’s work on addressing climate change with the development of a
regulation that provides a legal basis for supplying electricity generated from
renewable energy sources to the national power system. In this regard, we
appreciate the Centre’s joint efforts with the CoEEA in supporting the
Turkmenbashy port to successfully obtain the international EcoPorts certificate,
which meets European port sector standards.

The improvement of the rule of law and respect for human rights are essential
elements of the EU-Turkmenistan relationship. Despite some limited progress,
the EU remains concerned about serious shortcomings in human rights and
fundamental freedoms protection in Turkmenistan, and the lack of transparency
and accountability in areas, such as detention conditions and the right to a fair
and public process. We continue to urge enhanced work in the human dimension, promoting and supporting the implementation of OSCE principles
and commitments in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as
well as genuine civil society. In this context, we appreciate the Centre's
engagement with national stakeholders.

We continue to consider work in the area of penitentiary reform, including with
the view to ensuring international standards related to prisoners' rights, to be a
priority. The EU emphasises the importance of Turkmenistan’s ratification of
the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and the International
Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances as
important steps towards eradication of these practices. While acknowledging
some openness on the part of Turkmen authorities to share relevant
information, we remain concerned by the continued enforced disappearance of
many people in Turkmenistan’s prisons. We recall that the Prove They Are
Alive! campaign has documented 162 cases of such disappearances in the last
20 years, with nearly 100 of these cases still ongoing. We reiterate our call for
immediate and decisive action by the national authorities to put an end to this
heinous violation of human rights.

We welcome the Centre’s activities in the area of media freedom and
development and encourage continued close coordination with the RFoM, as
evidenced by the visit of Teresa Ribeiro to Turkmenistan this week. We applaud
the Centre’s work in supporting the modernisation of media freedom–related
provisions in national action plans, capacity building for journalists and
assistance in the modernisation of journalism education. Additionally, we
congratulate the Centre for organising a series of seminars in support of the
implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan for 2021-2025, which
have raised awareness about the OSCE commitments in this field.

Turkmenistan is an important partner for the EU. The EU Strategy on Central
Asia is a valuable roadmap for forging a strong and durable partnership
between the EU and Central Asia. We remain committed to the universal UN
principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as international security,
fundamental freedoms and human rights.

In conclusion, we express our sincere appreciation for the Centre’s work and
wish Ambassador John MacGregor and his team every success in the fulfilment
of their mandate.


the EFTA countries ICELAND, LIECHTENSTEIN and NORWAY, members of the
European Economic Area.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina
continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.