BRUSSELS -- European Union member states have given the European Commission and its foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini a mandate to negotiate a new political deal between the EU and Kyrgyzstan.
The new accord would replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) that has underpinned political relations between the bloc and Bishkek since 1999.
A statement announcing the decision on October 9 said that the Brussels-Bishkek "partnership" is based on Kyrgyzstan's "commitment to undertake reforms to strengthen democracy, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, and to promote sustainable economic development.”
The move comes a week before an October 15 presidential election in Kyrgyzstan.
The EU expects the vote “to be carried out in line with [Kyrgyzstan's] international obligations and commitments in terms of holding credible, inclusive and transparent elections.”
The talks are due to start shortly after the vote, EU diplomats who are not authorized to speak about the issue publicly have told RFE/RL.
Critics of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term, accuse him of using his power to back the ruling party candidate.
The new agreement is expected to be similar to the one neighboring Kazakhstan signed with the EU in 2016.
The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) that the EU and Astana negotiated for over three years was the first new political agreement the EU concluded with a Central Asian country.
It reinforced political cooperation in 29 policy areas, including justice, the rule of law, energy, education, and research.
With reporting by RFE/RL Brussels Correspondent Rikard Jozwiak