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Kazakh FM: New EU Strategy for Central Asia to open vast horizons for cooperation

26.02.2019 6643
Kazakh FM: New EU Strategy for Central Asia to open vast horizons for cooperation
Photo: Kazakh MFA's press service

Kazakhstan attaches great importance to the development of constructive and trustful dialogue in the European Union-Central Asia format.

Today, the European Union is our reliable partner, contributing to the prosperity and unity of Central Asian countries," Beibut Atamkulov, THE Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said at a meeting last week with Peter Burian, European Union (EU) Special Representative for Central Asia.
The visit of the EU Special Representative to Kazakhstan was held on the eve of the adoption of the new EU Strategy for Central Asia, in order to coordinate the EU's priorities with the region. Over the past two years, Kazakhstan, along with its regional neighbours, has actively participated in the preparation of the document by presenting ideas and proposals for the strategy, the Kazakh MFA's press service reports.
Mr. Burian thanked the Kazakh side for their constructive proposals for the new strategy, the effective implementation of which is in the interests of all parties involved.
The meeting emphasised the importance of including in the strategy such areas as human capital development, ensuring the rule of law and high-quality public administration, promotion of small and medium-sized businesses, universal digitalisation, transport and logistics infrastructure, improving energy efficiency, green technologies, environmental protection, rational water use and security.
Noting the importance of the future strategy, Mr. Atamkulov discussed a number of specific proposals aimed at ensuring the effective fulfillment of development projects. The Foreign Minister expressed his support for preserving the EU's significant ongoing development activities in the region, within the framework of the new strategy.
One of the promising areas of cooperation with the EU is expected to be the launch later this year of a joint programme to provide education to Afghan girls in Kazakh and Uzbek institutions, with funding provided by the EU. The parties agreed that the educational project will help support women and children in Afghanistan, as well as the settlement of the situation in the country more widely.
Discussing regional cooperation, the parties noted the political and economic processes in Central Asia, which in recent years have been characterised by increased interactions and which open up new prospects for cooperation across a range of mutually beneficial partnerships.
As part of the discussion on Kazakh-EU bilateral cooperation, Mr. Burian was informed about Kazakhstan's intention to facilitate a dialogue on deepening trade and economic collaboration, increase Kazakhstan's exports, attract European investment in priority sectors of the economy, and simplify the EU visa regime for Kazakh citizens.
In this regard, the implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Union (EPCA) is anticipated this year, which will open new areas of bilateral cooperation.
The Foreign Minister also briefed Mr. Burian about the new economic focus of the Foreign Ministry, based on the principles of pragmatism. In particular, it was noted that Kazakhstan is striving to deepen trade, economic and investment cooperation with Europe.
In 2018, trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the EU amounted to $37.7 billion, with the EU accounting for approximately 50 percent of Kazakh trade. The volume of foreign direct investments attracted from the EU to the Kazakh economy in the first half of 2018 reached $12.3 billion. Today, 24 investment projects, cumulatively worth approximately $3 billion, are being implemented in Kazakhstan with the participation of European companies. Mr. Atamkulov and Mr. Burian discussed the need to not only maintain these volumes, but also to increase them.
At the end of the meeting, the parties discussed the full schedule of upcoming events in 2019 related to the EU-Central Asia partnership.
As well as these trustful and friendly talks held with the Foreign Minister, Mr. Burian's visit to Kazakhstan also included meetings with the leadership of the relevant committees of the Senate and the Majilis.
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