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Germany Admits Sick Uzbek Minister Despite EU Ban


http://gdb.rferl.org/22b8cb50-b1be-4b43-8de8-1838031aa114_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/22b8cb50-b1be-4b43-8de8-1838031aa114_mw800_mh600.jpg Uzbek President Islam Karimov is also banned from the entering the EU (AFP) Berlin, 15 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbek Interior Minister Zakirdzhon Almatov has been granted permission to undergo a life-saving operation in Germany despite being barred from the European Union.

Yesterday, European Union governments banned arms sales to Uzbekistan and imposed a one-year visa ban on 12 top Uzbek officials over the crushing of protests last May in which many people died.

The list of officials banned from entering the EU includes Almatov, Defense Minister Kadyr Gulyamov, and the head of the National Security Service, Rustam Inoyatov.

A German government official said today that Berlin issued the visa on humanitarian grounds. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman, Michael Iber, said treatment in a special hospital is such a humanitarian reason.

"The EU has introduced an entry ban and there is one exception -- humanitarian reasons," he said. "Health treatment in a special clinic can be such a humanitarian reason."

The official said the visa was issued in October. Berlin, aware of the forthcoming ban, had informed the EU's executive Commission and Britain, which holds the bloc's rotating presidency.

The EU Council allowed for certain exemptions of the travel ban, including on humanitarian grounds.

(Reuters, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service)
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