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Decisive choices ahead for Kyrgyzstan, EU says

BRUSSELS, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said the rule of law and settling ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan are central to his nation's sustainable development.

"The rule of law, human rights and freedoms, active engagement of civil society in political processes, economic reform and stability in the peaceful settlement of inter-ethnic conflicts are decisive for the country's sustainable development and democratic transition," Linkevicius said in a statement published Friday.

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At least 400 people were killed in violence pitting members of the ethnic Uzbek community against Kyrgyz rivals, in the aftermath of a coup in 2011. Kyrgyz officials declared a state of emergency over parts of the country in January because Uzbek forces had blocked access to a border region.

Linkevicius represented the European Union during talks in Brussels with a delegation from Kyrgyzstan, led by Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev.

"The EU is firmly committed to further support the success of democratic and socioeconomic reforms as well as actions to promote inter-ethnic reconciliation," Linkevicius said.

Kyrgyz parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for 2015.

Lithuania holds the annual rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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