Next year, the European Union will start implementing three new large-scale programs in Central Asia with a total amount of 28 million Euros. The ceremony of signing the project agreements took place on the sidelines of the EU conference “Enhanced integration for prosperity in Central Asia” held in Nur Sultan.
The forum was attended by high-ranking officials of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of the diplomatic community and funding parties.
Ambassador Sven-Olov Carlsson, Head of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan, responsible for the coordination of projects, told the participants about the purpose of each of the programs and the distribution of funding for their implementation. In particular, 5 million Euros will be invested in the program “Central Asia-Invest”, 15 million Euros – in the program for promotion international trade in Central Asia, 8 million Euros – in the development of the rule of law.
All three projects, developed within the framework of the new EU Strategy for Central Asia, will start in early 2020 and will be implemented by the Council of Europe, the International Trade Center, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
– We firmly believe that an enhanced regional cooperation will allow Central Asian countries to better manage their interdependence, address their vulnerabilities and shared concerns,- Ambassador Sven-Olov Carlsson said, expressing confidence that the projects will help Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to unlock their economic potential and increase influence in international affairs.
According to him, Brussels expects a lot from the programmes and not only because they represent a significant investment of EU taxpayers’ money. “We understand the importance and relative urgency the beneficiary countries assign to make progress on diversifying and making their economies more competitive”, explained Ambassador.
On the sidelines of the conference in the capital of Kazakhstan there was also a discussion at the level of ministers and deputy ministers of economy and justice, during which the parties considered concrete steps towards the implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia adopted in June 2019. They discussed the priorities of the Central Asian countries in attracting investment, ensuring sustainable and comprehensive growth, and integrating into the international trading system.
Recognizing the important integrating role of Central Asia between Europe and Asia, the EU has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to building a long-term mutually beneficial dialogue with all countries of the region, both through multilateral and bilateral plans and projects.
To date, EU projects covering such areas as education, energy, environment and water resources, capacity building of the private sector, border management and security, combating drug trafficking, are being realized in all five countries of the region.