Remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov at the International Conference “25 Years of European Union - Central Asia Relations: From the Past to the Future"

Құрметті ханымдар мен мырзалар!

Конференция қатысушылары!

Еуропалық Одақтың Қазақстан Республикасындағы Өкілдігінің, сондай-ақ Еуропалық Одақтың Орталық Азия бойынша Арнайы өкілі Питер Буриан мырзаның жеке бастамасымен ұйымдастырылған халықаралық конференцияға келген барлық қатысушыларды қошеметтеу мен үшін зор ғанибет.

Бүгінгі іс-шара күн тәртібінің мазмұны мен қатысушылардың құрамына қарайтын болсақ, бізді өзекті де күрделі мәселелер бойынша қызықты баяндамалар мен талқылаулар күтіп отырғаны күмән тудырмайды.

Еуропалық Одақпен ынтымақтастықты дамыту Президент Нұрсұлтан Назарбаевтың сыртқы саясатының басымдықтарының бірі. Елбасымыз осы бағытқа айрықша көңіл бөледі.

Dear conference participants!

This year, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Union mark the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

It is heartening to note that this is not just a round date, but an important milestone in cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU, based on constructive dialogue, trust, and mutual respect.

It is symbolic that today, on 22 February, the European External Action Service in Brussels is holding a photo exhibition dedicated to this significant date.

Deepening and expanding cooperation with the European Union is a strategic foreign policy priority for Kazakhstan. In the 25 years since the establishment of our diplomatic relations, we have managed to create a solid foundation for the dynamic growth of our partnership. This is evidenced, first of all, by our high trade, economic and investment indicators with the EU.

As a result of the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, we have a solid foundation for making further progress in the development of bilateral cooperation.

It is noteworthy that Kazakhstan was the first country in Central Asia to sign a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU in 1995, and is the first and so far the only country in the region to have concluded a second-generation Agreement with the EU.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you are aware, the President of Kazakhstan initiated a large-scale modernization program of all aspects of Kazakhstan's society and economy.

I am convinced that the European Union and each of its members can contribute to the implementation of Kazakhstan's plans for industrialization, modernization of public consciousness and other areas of the country's development.

The organization of such a timely and important dialogue platform in Astana gives us an opportunity to make a practical overview of our common achievements and set clear tasks for further developing interregional cooperation with the European Union, as well as to make our significant contribution to updating the EU Strategy for Central Asia.

Over the past 11 years, Astana has consistently supported the implementation of the current Strategy, which we consider a key tool for fostering additional conditions for our region's sustainable development.

Given contemporary geopolitical realities and the changing needs and opportunities of Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan has supported the European Union's decision to revise the EU Strategy for Central Asia and to prepare by the end of 2019 a new program document to define the main priorities for our continued cooperation.

Kazakhstan is ready to actively participate in this work. Today, I would like to make several concrete proposals to increase the practical effect of the new Strategy.

First, we would like to see the revitalization of joint work on the development of private entrepreneurship, small and medium-sized businesses - an important structural element of the economic foundation of any country. The examples of developed countries, including members of the European Union, are a clear testament to this.

Second, improving energy efficiency will remain a long term priority for our region. The EXPO 2017 exhibition held last summer, and the events that took place under its aegis, demonstrated to the world community the strong interrelation between green technologies, economic and environmental cooperation, and global security.

Third, I would like to highlight the need for developing our region's transit and transport potential, and to strengthen processes under the so-called "connectivity" umbrella, which in the future will play a key role in the development of Central Asian economies.

At the same time, Central Asia should in no way be regarded as a simple transit corridor for goods and energy resources between Europe and Asia. Our region needs to use the experience and knowledge of the European Union in order to achieve effective modernization, develop its logistics potential, attain economic diversification and, as a result, trigger Central Asia's qualitative integration into the global economic system.

Fourth, it is necessary to provide comprehensive support for the exchange of expert views and best practices with the EU on adapting all spheres of life for participation in the new 21st century digital economy.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of priorities over which the EU and Central Asia can work together under the future Strategy. Also important are issues relating to the environment, water resources, climate change, education, security, and the rule of law.

In general, we urge the European Union to be more ambitious and expand its presence in Central Asia under the new Strategy. For the countries of the region, this is important in the context of maintaining a balanced presence among leading trade and investment partners.

We would also like to suggest for the EU to develop new mechanisms that will help attract private European capital to various projects in Central Asia. This will open up new opportunities for European companies to enter the regional market and strengthen the EU's position in the region.

We also propose to consider the possibility of uniting the efforts of the European Union with significant international players. Already, we are witnessing the gradual integration of alternative projects and dialog platforms that, if successfully implemented with the necessary amount of synergy, can help transform Central Asia into an important link in global economic relations.

Dear colleagues,

It goes without saying that we are all interested in the stable and secure development of Central Asia – this goal corresponds to the EU's Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy and is closely tied to international and regional efforts to aid Afghanistan's socio-economic rehabilitation.

On the subject of Afghanistan, which in essence is a key factor for Central Asia's stability, I would like to draw attention to our efforts to help stabilize and fully develop that country. As you are aware, since 2009 Kazakhstan has been implementing an educational program for Afghan youth, and has now taken the initiative to continue this program together with the European Union.

Such cooperation with the EU becomes particularly important in light of Kazakhstan's membership in the UN Security Council.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, I would like to thank our friend Ambassador Peter Burian for the timely initiative to hold this conference, and in general for his determined work to bring Central Asia and the European Union closer together.

Special greetings to our colleagues and friends from the Central Asia states.

I am convinced that with the arrival of the new EU Strategy for Central Asia, our cooperation will reach a new qualitative level and will acquire more precise forms in the interests of ensuring the security and prosperity of our states.

I wish all participants of the conference fruitful work on strengthening inter-regional dialogue between Central Asia and the European Union.

Thank you for your attention.

Created at : 22.02.2018, 12:35, Updated at : 22.02.2018, 12:35