PRESS-REPORT YOUNG CENTRAL ASIAN WINNERS OF THE REGIONAL LEGAL COMPETITION PARTICIPATED TO A STUDY TOUR OF EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS ORGANISED BY THE RULE OF LAW PLATFORM In the European Parliament in Strasbourg The five winners of the Regional Legal Competition organized by the Rule of Law Platform in the Summer of 2014 were invited to a study tour of European institutions during the week from 24 to 28 November 2014, in the Netherlands and France. The five law students and young professionals of Central Asia were offered comprehensive presentations, visited institution premises, and had the opportunity to exchange with high-level representatives on site. In the Netherlands, the delegates visited the Hague Conference on Private International Law, Eurojust and the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the University of Leiden and Amsterdam. In Strasbourg, they had meetings at the Office of the European Ombudsman and the European Court of Human Rights. They also attended presentations at the Group of States against corruption (GRECO), the European Commission for Democracy through Law of the Council of Europe (Venice Commission), the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law and Directorate of External Relations of the Council of Europe. They also participated to a session of the European Parliament. The objective of this visit was to provide exposure to best EU practices and rule of law institutions. Aijan Sharshenova was born in Kyrgyzstan and is currently a Ph.D. student in International Relations, Democracy and Development at the University of Leeds (UK). Her work experience includes judicial reform assistance and parliamentary strengthening in her country. For Aijan, “the most exciting element of the study tour was that we had a chance to learn from well-established experts and professionals, who kindly answered our questions and told stories from their practice and everyday life of their organisations”. “I have also developed an interest in learning more about anticorruption measures and cooperation with the Council of Europe, a stepping stone to ideas on future research and career aspirations”. Munira Ahundova, from Turkmenistan, is a law student at Mahtumkuli Turkmen State University. “The outstanding study tour, one of the most wonderful moments of my life, was an amazing experience. I have learned a myriad of things connected with my future profession. Most memorable was the visit to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, observing the judicial process there in particular. That is because I am considering becoming a judge”. Maxim Dogonkin from Uzbekistan studied commercial law at Westminster International University in Tashkent and currently prepares an LL.M. at the University of Essex (UK). Having practiced as a junior lawyer advising foreign investors, his interests are in corporate and competition law. “I sincerely believe the EU Rule of Law Initiative will contribute significantly enhancing the rule of law in Central Asia: this integration experience will be very valuable for the Central Asian States and in transforming the relationships between business and the State. The study visit totally changed my perception of EU institutions. I now better understand how important they are to the development of the rule of law. Asset Kussaiyn lives in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He currently prepares his BA in Jurisprudence at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and is very interested in defending human rights. Asset was particularly interested to visit Eurojust and to attend a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “There are still problems in the implementation of laws in all Central Asian States. I gained knowledge and ideas, which I would put into practice in my home country. The study tour was kind of a catalyst, which raised my interest in the EU. I will continue my research and after that, I will definitely do something to change the situation for the better in Central Asia”. Umedakhon Oqilova is a Tajik student and holds a BA from the American University of Central Asia. She is currently enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Tromso, Norway. The most valuable part of study tour was our participation in the session of EU Parliament, it inspired me very much. The tour helped me to realize how much needs to be done by Tajikistan. Our government’s great interest to cooperate with EU is step towards progress. We met experts from different government institutions and this inspired me to be like one of them. I hope that in the future, I will be able help my country overcome the obstacles to join treaties and support the development of cooperation between Tajikistan and European Union. Wim Timmermans, a former law Professor at the University of Leiden says: “It was a great pleasure meeting these nice young students. They were very bright and asked good questions”. Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, the Secretary General of the Hague Conference says: “It was our absolute pleasure to welcome the delegation at the Permanent Bureau. Receiving young interested lawyers allows us to reflect on, and promote, our work, to the next generation of legal minds. And their interesting and pertinent questions not only made the session lively and interactive, but also allowed us to go even deeper into the various topics we covered.” The group of Central Asian young professionals and law students had a full « immersion » into international (primarily European) rule of law institutions. Following the study tour, they will join the European-Central Asian Network of rule of law Experts established by the Platform. A key element of the EU-Central Asia Strategy for a New Partnership, the “Rule of Law Initiative for Central Asia” constitutes the overarching regional framework for enhanced cooperation in the Rule of Law area, aimed at supporting legal reforms in Central Asia and the sharing of EU experience. Under the auspices of the Rule of Law Initiative, the Rule of Law Platform regional project acts as a support mechanism to facilitate policy dialogue and promote the measures contributing to legal reforms in each of the Central Asian countries. The delegation in the Hague This project is funded by the European Union The project is implemented by Altair Asesores S.L. in consortium with IBF International Consulting, Nicolaas Witsen Foundation, and Central Asia International Consulting Calle Maria de Molina 1-5° Dcha.28006 Madrid, Spain Tel. (+34) 91 399 25 88 Fax (+34) 91 399 16 29 Directorate General for Development and Cooperation - EuropeAid 54 rue Joseph II, 1049 Brussels, Belgium Tel: (+32 2) 295 1815 Fax: (+32 2) 296 3697 The European Union is made up of 28 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders. To this end the EU is active in Tajikistan since 1992 and provides approximately EUR 25 million annually in development assistance.
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