Brussels hosts conference on “10 years of the EU Strategy for Central Asia”

The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an international conference titled “10 years of the EU Strategy for Central Asia: way forward” last week in Brussels.

EU officials who spoke at the conference said cooperation with the Central Asian region is important for the Global Strategy of the European Union’s foreign and security policy and that the EU’s strategy for long-term partnership has strengthened relations between the union and the five Central Asian states.

EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian noted that “over the years of implementing the strategy, the EU has been able to accumulate substantial experience and made significant progress in many priority areas”, adding that the EU will work on updating the document taking into account the experience gained.

Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko called the strategy “an effective and integrated tool for interregional interaction”, arguing that projects implemented as part of the strategy contributed to the development of the region. “A key component of a new strategy, in our opinion, should be unlocking the region’s economic potential, which implies implementation of programmes aimed at improving investment climate, ensuring sustainable economic growth, developing human capital and boosting employment.”

Conference participants discussed plans to adapt the 10-year-old EU-Central Asia strategy to current conditions resulting from improved relations between the countries’ governments and businesses over the last year.  The EU Council is expected to approve a new Central Asian strategy by the end of 2019 in accordance with its global strategy. The new document is expected to reflect the EU’s interest in strengthening interaction with Central Asian states in the fight against terrorism, countering smuggling and illegal migration, as well as expanding transport, trade and energy links.