The European Union (EU) seeks to further expand its partnership with Central Asia and refine new cooperation mechanisms to address existing and emerging security challenges, said EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian last week during the international conference in Astana marking the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the EU and Central Asia.
“The timing for this discussion is excellent and cannot be better since we have started consultations involving our member states and partners on a new strategy for Central Asia, which will be fully aligned with our global strategy and which could better reflect new realities in the region, ambitions, priorities and needs of our partners, strengthening their resilience as indicated also in the consensus for the development agenda for 2030,” he noted in addressing more than 150 delegates attending the two-day conference.
“I am pleased to note that through these 25 years our partnership has gotten stronger and matured and, in particular, in the recent two-three years acquired a new content and dynamism also thanks to a very proactive attitude of our partners to inter- and intraregional cooperation,” he added.
The conference, Burian noted, is an essential part of consultations between the EU and each of the five Central Asian nations.
“Tomorrow we will have the same kind of discussions with Kazakhstan and I remember clearly your contribution to updating the strategy in 2015, where we felt even more than previously that you assume leadership and also ownership of the implementation of our strategy,” he said on the first day of the conference.
Expanding cooperation with the EU is a “strategic foreign policy priority” for Kazakhstan, said Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov in his keynote remarks to the conference, emphasising the result of these 25 years is a “solid foundation for the dynamic growth” of bilateral cooperation.