The EU Foreign Ministers’ decision of 27 October to lift the arms embargo imposed on Uzbekistan is a severe blow to the EU’s human rights policy.
This decision was taken despite Uzbekistan’s continued refusal to allow an independent international investigation into the killing of hundreds of innocent people in Andijan in 2005, which was the main reason behind the EU sanctions. Today, the Uzbek regime remains one of the world’s worst dictatorships, with a dismal human rights record.[:]
Once again the Council has traded its high principles against realpolitik, in this case to continue to engage with Uzbekistan on military and energy spheres.
I am sorry to see that the Swedish Presidency, who obviously was one of the few who actually opposed the lifting of the arms export embargo, was not able to stop this wrong signal from being sent to Uzbekistan.
The signal to all other authoritarian regimes is clear: we speak but do not really care about human rights if our economic and strategic interests are at stake.
The Council repeated its demands on Uzbekistan to fulfill its international human rights obligations. Now the least the EU can do is to really take immediate measures if these demands, such as releasing political prisoners, are not being met.