Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (138)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

138. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on Ireland's relationship with the Republic of Uzbekistan; the issues that have been raised with the Uzbek authorities in the past; and his views on the human rights situation there. [9325/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland does not have a resident Embassy in Uzbekistan and there is no Uzbek Embassy in Dublin, so contacts at political and official level with the Uzbek authorities are limited. In the absence of such direct links, our main channels of engagement with Uzbekistan and other countries in the Central Asia region are through the EU, and multilateral fora such as the UN and the OSCE. Trade flows are negligible.

Ireland fully supports the EU’s policy of increased cooperation with the countries of the Central Asia region as set out in Council Conclusions which were published last June. While welcoming the progress achieved in developing relations with individual countries, including Uzbekistan, the EU recognised the serious challenges to human rights in the region. To this end, the EU reaffirmed the crucial importance of continuing meaningful dialogue on good governance, the rule of law and human rights.

Since his election in 2016, the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev has launched significant reforms of the judiciary, administration and security services. Several human rights defenders have been released from prison and, in May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Uzbekistan for the first time. The authorities have also resumed cooperation with Human Rights Watch, which had previously been banned from working inside Uzbekistan. In a further welcome development, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media visited the country late last year.

In a meeting with President Mirziyoyev in November, EU High Representative Mogherini commended the significant reforms which have taken place since 2016 and expressed the EU’s full support in turning these initiatives into concrete results.

Ireland fully endorses this position. We will continue to monitor developments in Uzbekistan and ensure that focused attention is given to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law.