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Observance of Human Rights in Kazakhstan – answer given by Catherine Ashton

Towards the end of March, the Spanish MEP Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández (Verts/ALE) addressed a question to the European Commission on fundamental civil and human rights in Kazakhstan. On 21st May, the MEP’s question was answered by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton. As fitting with tradition, the answer was rather vague.

In his questions, Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández referred to the protests which had taken place in Kazakshtan this year about devaluation of Kazakh currency. The protesters were repressed by the authorities in Astana, which in the detention and fining of 40 persons.

The MEP asked the Commission whether it was aware what was going on in Kazakhstan and how the rights to peaceful gatherings and freedom of speech were restricted there. Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández also wanted to know whether the Commission intended to take steps in order to force the Kazakh authorities to guarantee its nationals their fundamental rights and freedoms.

On 21st May, an answer was given by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton. The official letter was mainly composed of generic statements such as “EEAS is closely following developments in Kazakhstan with regard to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms […] and “EEAS continues to encourage Kazakhstan to adhere to all its international commitments”.

We will not find any concrete answers or an action plan devised for the situation described by the MEP in the reply. It only remains to hope that after the European Parliament elections to be held very soon, the EU will put more emphasis on the observance of human rights and will demand its international partners, more fully respect the relevant ratified treaties and agreements.