I am pleased to report that the Fifth Annual Meeting of the ECFA Advisory Council on 4 – 5th December 2018 was a great success. The Meeting, which took place once again in the beautiful setting of Cliveden House, Berkshire, UK, was attended by distinguished statesmen, diplomats, business leaders and representatives of the armed forces.
During the Meeting, Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Chair of our Advisory Council, met privately H.E. Ambassador Peter Burian and Mr. Thomas Mayr-Harting of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and the European Union is now in discussions with the ECFA to consider deepening relations with the institution going forwards. Furthermore, Ambassador Burian indicated that recommendations from the ECFA’s newly-published report on the EU’s new Strategy for Central Asia would be incorporated into the EU’s final document.
Both EU officials delivered insightful remarks to assembled guests after the formal dinner later that evening. Priti Patel, PC, MP was then introduced by Dr. Ferrero-Waldner as the newest Member of the ECFA Advisory Council, and delivered the concluding Vote of Thanks. We are very pleased to formally welcome her to the ECFA.
The following day, the Members of the Advisory Council were joined by external participants for a press conference announcing the publication of the ECFA’s report. In his remarks, Ambassador Burian noted the timeliness and usefulness of the report as the EU finalises its consultation period for the new Strategy, and stated that the report’s call for a narrower focus going forwards had been echoed by other parties, and would no doubt be reflected in the EU’s new Strategy, which will focus on security, connectivity and sustainable development in the region in particular. Mr. Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, highlighted the similarity between the approaches of the EU and the countries of Central Asia to the new Strategy.
I am grateful to all attendees for their contributions over these two days. Special thanks is due to Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner for her invaluable work in making the event a complete success. On behalf of the ECFA, I wish you a prosperous end of the year, and look forward to updating you on further exciting developments in 2019!