The European Union takes note of the preliminary assessment of the OSCE Election Observation Mission following the parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan on 22 December.
Their assessment concludes that improvements to election law and greater acceptance of freedom of expression allowed for the elections to be conducted in an open and fair atmosphere with genuine competition between the various candidates.
The EU welcomes the real progress achieved during these elections, which show a meaningful step forward in offering the people of Uzbekistan a democratic choice over the future direction of their country, and congratulates the Uzbek authorities for the technical standards achieved during these elections, in line with international best practice.
However, only parties formally approved by the government were authorised to nominate their candidates which led to the absence of opposition parties from the contest. Continuing lack of respect for fundamental rights and some serious irregularities on Election Day were observed.
There is a need for further investment in the democratic process in Uzbekistan before elections can truly be described as fair and free. Future parliamentary elections should be open to independent candidates. Creating and defending a space for meaningful public debate, including the opposition voices, to establish a sustainable environment in which reforms can be implemented, is crucial and brings real benefits for the country and its people.