Today in the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament the External Action Service answered Heidi Hautala’s question on the EU-Turkmenistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).[:]
A motion for a resolution adopted in the Foreign Affairs Committee on 26 January 2011 called for a biennial review of the PCA supported by a monitoring mechanism on Turkmenistan that should be structured around the EEAS and involve Parliament and which should produce annual reports on the situation in country. There should be a yearly discussion in Parliament on the human rights situation in Turkmenistan.
The High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) is called upon to prepare the mechanism, which would allow for rapid reaction in the case of breaches of the PCA, leading to the immediate suspension of the agreement in the event of a documented and proven breach of any human rights agreement to which Turkmenistan is a signatory.
Hautala asked whether the EEAS has started the preparation of this mechanism and whether it would present it by mid-May. She did also ask how the HR/VP will gather information regarding the human rights situation in Turkmenistan and how it will report to the European Parliament. Additionally she enquired how has the HR/VP monitored the progress of the benchmarks set by the European Parliament and has the HR/VP observed any positive progress of these benchmarks after the entry into force of the Interim Trade Agreement.
Unfortunately the representative of the External Action Service (EEAS) Axelle Nicaise replied that the EEAS is not in a position to prepare the proposed mechanism as it would risk putting into question the respective competences of the three institutions involved in this process, namely the Parliament, the Council and the EEAS, as laid down in the treaties. Discussion on this will continue.
Axelle Nicaise mentioned different means of collecting information regarding the human rights situation, but admitted that it is a challenge to get any information on Turkmenistan, which is an extremely closed country. This is one the reasons why a group of MEPs, including Heidi Hautala, will travel to Turkmenistan in the end of April before the Parliament’s final decision on the EU-Turkmenistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.