Tuesday

19th Nov 2019

Uzbek massacre hangs over Barroso-Karimov meeting

  • An OSCE researcher collects testimonies from Andijan survivors (Photo: OSCE)

A memorandum on energy is to dominate a meeting in Brussels between European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Uzbek chief Islam Karimov, responsible for massacring 1,500 of his own people just six years ago.

An EU official preparing the event, which is to take place on Monday (24 January), told EUobserver that Brussels and Tashkent are finalising the wording of the memo and hope to sign it on the day of the meeting.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"At this stage, it's basically a political declaration saying that we have shared interests in the energy sector and in deepening our ties both as regards supplies and diversification of routes," he added. "At a later stage, it will possibly be fleshed out with projects."

Mr Karimov's soldiers fired the first shots into a crowd of protesters in the central square in Andijan, in eastern Uzbekistan, at 7am local time on 12 May 2005, according to an OSCE report: "An armoured personnel vehicle, BTR, came from Cholpon Street/Navoi Prospect. It did not stop and security forces started shooting with automatic guns directly into the crowd. Then it drove away. The crowd kneeled/crouched to avoid the gunfire. Some were reportedly killed and wounded at this time."

The shooting continued sporadically for the rest of the day and climaxed in the evening, as detailed in a parallel study by Human Rights Watch: "government troops blocked off the square and, without warning, opened fire, killing and wounding unarmed civilians. People fled the square in several groups, the first group using as a human shield numerous hostages seized earlier in the day. As they tried to escape, hundreds of people were shot by snipers or mowed down by troops firing from APCs [armoured personnel carriers]."

Mr Karimov has refused EU demands for an international enquiry into the killings.

NGOs say that authorities continue to hold family members and survivors in prison. People in Uzbekistan are still tortured and killed for their political views. Meanwhile, the Karimov family, as detailed in a set of recently leaked US cables, is creaming in money from bribes and from business deals with the Uzbek mafia.

The EU official involved in the Barroso meeting, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the Union has opted for a policy of "constructive engagement" with Tashkent and that Mr Barroso will voice concerns about human rights, political prisoners, NGO and media freedoms.

Asked by this website if Mr Barroso will seek details on what happened in Andijan, he said he "could not confirm this."

Asked how may people were killed in the massacre, he said: "I don't have the exact figure with me."

Asked if it is odd that the EU has voiced solidarity with the pro-democracy uprising in Tunisia while appearing to endorse the Uzbek regime, he said: "I absolutely don't agree with that. We do support democratisation in Uzbekistan."

For their part, EU-based reporters will not be able to put any questions to Mr Karimov because the commission has not scheduled a press event, as is customary with top-level visits.

Asked if the omission is designed to avoid potential embarrassment for Mr Barroso's guest, the EU official said: "No. It's simply a calendar issue. This is just the way it is organised. He's also meeting with Belgian representatives the same day and with the Nato secretary general."

The Barroso-Karimov agenda will also cover Uzbekistan's logistical support for Nato troops in Afghanistan and economic modernisation, the official added.

Uzbekistan's embassy to the EU declined to comment on the planned meeting, saying that President Karimov has not yet "received the official papers" from the EU side.

An Uzbek diplomat previously briefed EUobserver that Tashkent wants EU help to stop neighbouring Tajikistan from completing the Rogun Dam on the Vakhsh River. He said the dam has the potential to cause a large-scale humanitarian disaster if it ever burst, flooding vast swathes of land in Uzbekistan and pushing refugees to the EU.

Feature

Colonisers speak - 60 years after Congo's independence

Belgium is in the midst of a nationwide reassessment of its colonial past. Under pressure from a younger, more activist, generation and a growing African diaspora, the former colonial power has taken some steps over the past year.

Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

A total of 48 MEPs from GUE/NGL, the Greens and the Socialists have demanded the EU to comply with the democracy clause of the EU-Chile agreement to ensure that Chile respects fundamental rights.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary, Poland block EU conclusions on rule of law
  2. France: wide EU backing for enlargement change
  3. EU Council calls for policy action to protect marine life
  4. ECJ: Poland's judicial independence in doubt
  5. Suspected 'middleman' in Caruana Galizia case arrested
  6. European populists more favourable to Russia
  7. Hungary's new commissioner approved by MEPs
  8. Balkan coal power plants fail to meet emissions targets

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us