Members of the European Parliament from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, (EFDD) F. M. Castaldo , M. Valli and M. Zanni, addressed an inquiry to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, F. Mogherini, concerning the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA).
In their inquiry of February 2015, the MEPs noted that the negotiations ongoing between the Union and Kazakhstan were an opportunity to emphasise the need to improve the human rights standards in Central Asia. At the same time, they expressed their concern over the conclusions from the recently published periodical human rights review in Kazakhstan. The violations carried out by the authorities in Astana are also reported on by international organisations such as Amnesty International and HRW. Relying on these sources, the MEPs asked F. Mogherini, inter alia, whether she believed that Kazakhstan had fulfilled the recommendations listed in the resolution of the European Parliament concerning the negotiations of the new EPCA.
In the opinion of the High Representative, the negotiations included discussions on issues related to freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion or belief, women’s rights and the prevention of torture. Mogherini stated: “The EU encouraged the Kazakh authorities to consider accepting a number of recommendations that it initially did not support during the Universal Periodic Review second cycle on 30 October 2014”. At the same time, the EU declared its readiness to continue its cooperation with Kazakhstan on human rights issues. Mogherini argues that the EPCA places a strong emphasis on democracy and the rule of law, as well as the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In its reports, the Open Dialogue Foundation, however, continues to point to numerous violations of human rights in Kazakhstan, subscribing, at the same time, to warnings given by other organisations such as Amnesty International and HRW. Closer cooperation between the Union and Kazakhstan cannot mean that the Asian regime’s failure to meet its international obligations is ignored. It is to be noted as well that the draft of the agreement (EPCA) has not been made public yet, even though its final version has already been approved and was officially initialled by representatives of the EU and Kazakhstan at the beginning of 2015.