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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Accused Of Being Easy On Turkmens

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — An international human rights watchdog on Tuesday accused the European Union of ignoring rights abuses in Turkmenistan in the hope of securing future natural gas supplies.

British-based Global Witness said the EU was misguided in pinning its hopes on Turkmenistan as a potential alternative gas supplier to Russia.

“It is a ludicrous notion that the solution to the problem of dealing with one unreliable supplier is to turn to a potentially even more unreliable one in Turkmenistan,” Global Witness said in the report titled “All That Gas?”

The group published the report to coincide with the opening of an international energy conference in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, which dozens of Western energy investors are attending.

The European Parliament in April approved an interim EU trade agreement with Turkmenistan — a move widely condemned by rights groups.

“There is a risk that the Turkmen regime is learning to play to Europe’s need for ‘progress’ on human rights by making small cosmetic reforms that could be reversed in the future,” the Global Witness report said.

Global Witness said management of Turkmenistan’s public finances remain as nebulous as they were under former Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006, and that profits from gas sales could end up in a “fiscal black hole.”