OSCE mulls engagement with Turkmenistan

Dec. 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM

VIENNA, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said engagement is better than isolation when it comes to its relationship with Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan held its first-ever multiparty election for members of Parliament last weekend. Past elections were seen as skewed in favor of Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and both parties competing in the weekend contest had pledged their loyalty to him.

James Walsh, director of the OSCE monitoring mission for Turkmenistan, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty the country had a long ways to go before it lives up to its full democratic potential.

The OSCE, one of the largest intergovernmental organizations in the world, couldn't send a mission to observe the weekend contest but Walsh said Tuesday the potential for further "engagement is much more productive than isolation."

An election observer from the Commonwealth of Independent States said parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan were in line with democratic principles. CIS issued a similar report on last year's presidential elections.

Berdimuhamedov has been in office since 2006. Apart from president, he serves as prime minister and military commander in chief.

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