The European Union and Uzbekistan have held the highest-level political meeting in Brussels since the death of longtime Uzbek autocrat Islam Karimov in 2016.
A financial agreement was announced on the implementation of “The Horticulture Development Project”. The Project, which comes into effect from the moment of signing, stipulates the EU allocation of grants in the amount of 21.5 million euros for the modernization and strengthening of the material and technical base of scientific research institutes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of Uzbekistan.
Although the Uzbek media are mentioning it, EU representatives have also raised political issues, including human rights in the tightly controlled Central Asian country, during the meeting in the evening of July 17.
In a joint statement, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA), the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), and Amnesty International urged the EU “to emphasize the need for concrete changes in the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.”
They said the government must end the persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, and dissident voices while also ensuring that domestic and international media can operate freely and independently.
They also said Tashkent must allow an independent international inquiry into events in the eastern city of Andijon in 2005, when Uzbek security forces shot dead scores of antigovernment protesters.
Uzbekistan and the EU signed an agreement on partnership and cooperation in 1996. The EU’s diplomatic representation was opened in Uzbekistan in 2012. Financial aid in the amount of 168 million euros was approved for this Central Asian country for 2014-2020. These funds will be used to improve the irrigation infrastructure, introduce renewable energy sources in agribusiness, and promote a program to create new jobs in the regions.