Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2009-03-25-Speech-3-325"

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"Mr President, the question of ratification of the Agreement with Turkmenistan is a contentious issue because of violations of democratic principles and basic human rights in Turkmenistan. In spite of this, talks should be conducted with this country and the Agreement should be signed. Particular attention in relations with Turkmenistan should be paid to the fact that if there is no economic cooperation between the EU and Turkmenistan the standard of living in that country will fall. However, ratification of the Agreement can certainly help to raise the standard of living of the population. Let us remember that certain positive social signs have appeared there. The recent adoption by Turkmenistan of legislation introducing a ban on child labour is one of these signs. Of course, Turkmenistan still has to ratify and implement many of the conventions of the International Labour Organization – that is not in question. However, the fact that changes in Turkmenistan have been introduced at a tempo slower than we had expected remains disturbing. Only a few enterprises have been privatised, the government remains in firm control of many sectors of the economy, and foreign direct investment has remained at a very low level. Despite the fact that Turkmenistan has one of the largest natural reserves of gas and is one of the largest exporters of cotton, around half of the population – and let us remember this here – lives in poverty, I might add in extreme poverty. The political system is also far from satisfactory, especially concerning the continued repression of political parties other than the governing party, and also the repression of various religious groups. In spite of all this it seems to me that the Agreement with Turkmenistan should be made and ratified, because only by talking and by giving Turkmenistan a certain example can we give them a helping hand, so that in the future this country might at last join the family of democratic countries."@en1

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