The Parliament Magazine , EU politics magazine, has recently published a series of articles by the heads of the European Parliament’s delegation to Central Asia. The contents of the publications brightly proves that EU is eager to forge relations with all five regional countries.
Central Asia remains a largely undiscovered region despite the opportunities it presents both commercially and strategically. It’s time the EU enhances its presence in the region, writes Fulvio Martusciello, Chair of the delegation.
As it was noted this requires a special effort in various fields, given the essential role that some of these countries will play in the new land connectivity between China and Europe.
Moreover, vast riches, including gas, oil, cotton, water and rare earths, the countries of Central Asia represent an indispensable interlocutor on both a commercial and strategic level.
In security aspect, the Central Asia’s neighborhood with Afghanistan makes it a crucial area in the fight against terrorism and radicalism, “able to count on governments with a stable system of secular institutions”, Martusciello adds.
He pointed out that Central Asia is a much closer world than it may seem. Central Asia is characterized by its geopolitical complexity: it is part of Asia, but it is also part of Europe. They speak Indo-European languages, they fought in the European conflicts of the twentieth century, they have a secular tradition which is typical of our civilization, said Fulvio Martusciello.
Meanwhile, EU acknowledges that nature of interrelations across the Central Asia region is changing and Europe should needs to adapt to the new realities, recommends Atidzhe Alieva-Veli, vice-chair of the Parliament’s delegation to Central Asia.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is reviving the overland connectivity between Europe and Asia via the region. The EU needs to respond to these new dynamics.
The trade and investments makes the EU the main economic player in Central Asia. Simultaneously, the European Union is also a strong supporter of multilateralism, supporting the integration of all Central Asian countries into the world trading system.
Andris Ameriks, a vice-chair of Parliament’s delegation to Central Asia, discourses on the pillars of the strong and modern partnership between EU and Central Asia at present stage.
He reminds that in 2007, the EU adopted its first Strategy on Central Asia, which established a regular political dialogue and enhanced cooperation. The EU allocated over 1 billion Euro to development cooperation with Central Asia for the 2014- 2020 period.
In May 2019, the EU set out a fresh strategic vision for its partnership with Central Asia. It includes investing in regional cooperation in order to move towards common rules and a more integrated regional market, and to tackle common challenges such as environmental degradation and terrorism.
In addition, in November 2019, the EU launched three new regional programmes, supporting investments, competitiveness, rule of law and trade in Central Asia.
The EU Central Asia Economic Forum was established in order to support intra-regional and international trade and economic cooperation. Bishkek will host the first forum in the first half of 2020.
It is important that the EU is not interested in geopolitical rivalry while the Central Asian region is turning into the areas of growing interests for other players. According to Andris Ameriks, Brussels wants to facilitate regional cooperation in order to support sustainable development, stability and security in the region.
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The European Parliament’s first delegation for relations with Central Asia and Mongolia has been established in 1994 with the aim to strengthen relations with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The delegation’s activity focuses on the heart of Asia, which plays a strategic role in the stability and development of the entire continent.
The European Parliament, being the legislative branch of the European Union, is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level.