Today, in the office building of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in the heart of the European Quarter of Brussels, Belgium, in which most of the EEAS resides, the EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting with participation of the heads of the foreign ministries of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was held.
This meeting took place in a very intense week of negotiations and consultations, which started on Monday with the meeting of the European Union Member States’ Foreign Ministers, who discussed the many opportunities for cooperation with Central Asian countries. The current 14th European Union – Central Asia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting confirmed the parties’ interest in stepping up the cooperation, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy-Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini told at the press conference following the Ministerial meeting.
She also noted that a new European Union Delegation to be open in Ashgabat as of next year, and generally, the EU-Turkmenistan dialogue is planned to be expanded, first of all, on security issues, terrorism, human rights, and in many other areas.
According to Mogherini, the EU will be engaged with Central Asian in such priority areas as energy, trade, improving connectivity within the region and promoting its stability to external shocks. She announced that the EU would allocate 4 million euro next year in support of sustainable development across all five of the Central Asian countries. The programmes that the EU financing will help to develop the private sector, trade and investment, will help to protect the environment, tackle climate change, promote the rule of law, and create effective and inclusive education and health care policies.
Central Asian countries will make their own choices and find their own models of cooperation with the European Union, Mogherini clarified. That is, the EU, determining its general strategy for interaction with the region, both on a multilateral and bilateral basis, first of all, relies on how each country sets priorities in this dialogue.
As the European Union, they are ready to support and accompany that process and share their experiences in solving the issues that are most topical now for the Central Asian countries in general and individually.
The High Representative also told that the European Union is planning to adopt next year the new Strategy on Central Asia – a document designed to create a platform for long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation.
In this regard, the importance of a new strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia that adopted by the EU in October 2018 was also mentioned. The strategy is aimed to intensify the regional cooperation on connectivity across such areas as transport links, digital infrastructure, energy networks, and contacts between people.
Mogherini noted another two topics, which were discussed at the Central Asia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting – assistance to the peace processes in Afghanistan (the ministers will coordinate their positions in view of the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan on November 27-28) and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is about the future fulfillment by Iran of its obligations in the field of nuclear energy, the High Representative of the European Union said. The EU remains committed to implementing the nuclear deal with Iran, and the efforts of the countries of Central Asia are also helping enormously to ensure that this implementation continues fully and effectively.
At the end of the press conference, the Head of European diplomacy announced the decision to hold the next EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting in the first half of 2019. It is scheduled to be held in Kyrgyzstan
On outcomes of present meeting, the Joint Communiqué “EU-Central Asia – Working together to build a future of inclusive growth, sustainable connectivity and stronger partnerships” was adopted.
In document, Central Asian Foreign Ministers stressed the commitment of their countries to develop intra-regional trade, closer and wider economic cooperation in the region, as well as continuation of economic reforms. The EU intends to continue supporting the implementation of programmes aimed at ensuring efficient border management, improving the business and investment climate and supporting private sector development, promoting the rule of law and good governance, and developing human capital through education and training.
In addition, in communiqué, the participants welcomed the progress achieved in the development of Trans-Caspian transport corridors linking Europe and Asia through Central Asia.
Today, Central Asian Foreign Ministers and the Head of the EU Diplomatic Service visited the photo exhibition in the atrium of the office building of the European External Action Service, where the culture, traditions and modern life of the peoples of Central Asia are represented through vivid descriptions and images.