Tuesday

16th Oct 2018

EU slaps arms embargo on Uzbekistan

Member states on Monday (14 November) launched an embargo on arms sales to Uzbekistan and imposed a one-year visa ban on 12 top Uzbek officials.

The EU adopted the measures in "light of the excessive, disproportionate and discriminate use of force by the Uzbek security forces during the Andijan events in May and following the refusal of Uzbek authorities to allow an independent international inquiry into these events," EU diplomats said in a statement.

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The embargo will apply to exports of arms, military equipment and other equipment that might be used for "internal repression."

In the list of persons banned from entering the EU are interior minister Zakirjan Almatov and defence minister Kadir Gulamov, together with high ranking military officials and the governor of the city of Andijan.

The decision came shortly after the Uzbek supreme court sentenced 15 men for up to 20 years in prison for organising riots in the eastern town of Andijan, where 500 to 700 people were killed by government security forces this Spring according to media reports.

In what has been described by human rights organisations as a "show trial" and a "parody of justice", all 15 men were found guilty of murder, rioting, hostage-taking, membership of banned Islamist groups and attempting to establish an Islamist caliphate in Andijan.

Uzbekistan turns to Russia

Meanwhile, Uzbek president Islam Karimov got the red-carpet treatment in Moscow from Russian leader Vladimir Putin yesterday, after coming to town to sign a new military pact between the two countries.

Russia supports the official Uzbek version of events on, claiming the victims were terrorists trying to overthrow the government.

Mr Karimov said Russia was and remains Uzbekistan's reliable ally, pointing out that the strategic military alliance signed in the Kremlin on Monday "defends the strategic interests of our states in all spheres."

"The strengthening of Russia's position in central Asia will guarantee peace and stability and meet the fundamental interests of our peoples," he remarked.

EU looks at Morocco and Tunisia to offload migrants

EU member states and the European Commission are pressing ahead with plans to possibly use Morocco and Tunisia as countries to offload asylum seekers and migrants - part of larger bid to create a so-called "safe third country" list.

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