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EU Threatens Possible Sanctions Against Uzbekistan

The EU wants to know what happened in Andijon 13 June 2005 -- European Union foreign ministers today threatened Uzbekistan with possible sanctions if Tashkent continues to block an international inquiry into recent bloodshed in the city of Andijon.

The ministers gave Tashkent until the end of June to change its mind or face possible consequences.

Speaking in Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU presidency, EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she was very disappointed by Tashkent's attitude. She said an impartial investigation into exactly what happened in Andijon is necessary to satisfy the international community as well as Uzbekistan's own people.

"It remains essential therefore also that the Uzbek authorities allow an independent, full international inquiry as we have asked for, not just because we want to know the facts but also because the Uzbek people have to know what has happened in Andijon," Ferrero-Waldner said.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warned that most of the EU's 25 member states would favor suspending cooperation and partnership agreements with Uzbekistan if Tashkent continues to rebuff the EU.

The Uzbek authorities say 173 people were killed on 13 May during riots in Andijon. They have called most of the dead "bandits" or "terrorists." Independent witnesses and human rights organizations put the number of victims at over 500, including many women and children.


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