EU encourages Tajikistan to improve the track record in human rights and fundamental freedoms

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The Cooperation Council between the European Union (EU) and Tajikistan held its ninth meeting on Friday, 19 February via video conference between Brussels, Lisbon and Dushanbe, because of the travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, the meeting was chaired by Mr. Augusto Santos Silva, Portugal’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, on behalf of Mr. Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Tajik delegation was chaired by the Minister of Foreign affairs, Mr. Sirojiddin Muhriddin.

The Cooperation Council reportedly reviewed the positive development of bilateral relations and addressed political and socio-economic developments, trade, investment and energy relations, and international issues.

The two sides also assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Tajikistan, including in the areas of governance, civil liberties, human rights, economic situation and social vulnerabilities, with the objective for the EU to adjust its policy and development objectives to address the most critical needs and risk factors. Tajikistan thanked the EU for its financial support during the pandemic crisis and recovery.

The Cooperation Council also discussed questions of good governance, rule of law, human rights and strengthening civil society. The EU encouraged Tajikistan to improve the track record in human rights and fundamental freedoms, including political participation, with reference to the final reports of the OSCE/ODIHR assessment missions on the Parliamentary and Presidential elections held in Tajikistan in 2020. Building on positive achievements, such as the upcoming criminalization of domestic violence, and addressing the most salient issues will be important in the context of Tajikistan’s ambition to join the GSP+ scheme of preferences.

The EU confirmed its continued support to Tajikistan in its reform process, and in its endeavors to improve the socio-economic conditions of the population. Achievements of bilateral development assistance provided to Tajikistan, particularly in the three key focal sectors of health, education and rural development, were also discussed. The EU called on Tajik authorities to intensify the reform processes, welcomed the ongoing public consultation on the new Tax Code, reiterated the importance of a stability-oriented macroeconomic policy and further progress in Public Finance Management as ways to improve the business environment and attract foreign investment with the potential to bring innovative, green solutions and build back better. Successful GSP+ application would mobilize the potential to increase the trade flows between Tajikistan and the EU.

The two sides exchanged views on political developments in the region and the EU welcomed Tajikistan's role in advancing regional cooperation in Central Asia on water, energy and security, including Tajikistan's efforts to assist in the stabilization of Afghanistan. The EU welcomed Tajikistan's constructive role in the United Nations with regard to water diplomacy and climate change.

Source: Asia-Plus