Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A top U.S. diplomat warned Turkmenistan to improve its deplorable record on human rights if it wants to improve relations with the United States.
Stephan M. Minikes, ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told Turkmen officials of U.S. concerns about "exit controls, [the] lack of religious freedoms and lack of international access to prisoners," the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan said yesterday.
Mr. Minikes, who visited the country last week, met with the ministers of foreign affairs and education, the Council of Religious Affairs, the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights and nongovernmental organizations.
He urged the Turkmen government "to remain engaged with multilateral organizations like the OSCE and to honor its commitments to international conventions," the embassy said.
The State Department's human rights report characterizes Turkmenistan as a "one-party state dominated by its president, who continued to exercise power in a Soviet-era authoritarian style."
The OSCE, the world's largest regional security group with 55 members from Europe, North America and Central Asia, has grown increasingly alarmed at abuses in Turkmenistan since the government began a crackdown on dissidents after a failed coup against President Saparmurat Niyazov last year.
Mongolia, a Central Asian democracy that rose out of the ashes of communism, hosted a major conference on political and economic freedom that called for the "democratization of the United Nations," the Mongolian Embassy said.
The 5th International Conference of New or Restored Democracies this month drew 450 delegates from 110 countries, including Afghanistan.
Among their proposals, they said the United Nations should do a better job of promoting democracy, the embassy noted in a report on the conference. …