2013-EO-Turkmenistan-Walsh-StockSenator James Walsh at the OSCE PA's recent Autumn Meeting in Budva, Montenegro.ASHGABAT, 13 December 2013 – An OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation of observers began arriving today in Turkmenistan ahead of parliamentary elections in the country on 15 December.

PA President Ranko Krivokapic appointed a small group of senior parliamentarians to take part in the Election Assessment Field Visit, led by Irish Senator James Walsh. The delegation also includes parliamentarians from Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and Russia.

Parliamentarians are scheduled to receive briefings from the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda and the political parties contesting the elections. The delegation is also scheduled to meet with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will hold a courtesy meeting with members of the outgoing parliament.

On 15 December, the delegation will visit polling stations and assess the electoral process.

"The OSCE does not have a long history of election visits to Turkmenistan. This year, however, the Parliamentary Assembly received for the first time an open invitation to observe parliamentary elections," Walsh said. "We regard this as a sign of interest in expanded engagement with the OSCE PA on the part of Turkmenistan's government and welcome the opportunity. We hope to build on this precedent in the future."

Walsh will present the delegation's assessment at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Winter Meeting in Vienna on 13 February.

The PA delegation will be coordinating its activities with OSCE/ODIHR's Election Assessment Mission in Turkmenistan, which will issue a report approximately two months after the vote.