Opportunities for more cooperation discussed at the EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting

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Chaired by EU High Representative Josep Borrell, the meeting was also attended by foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen. It is the first such gathering since Borrell took office in December 2019.


During the meeting, the parties reportedly exchanged views on key aspects of partnership between the countries of Central Asia and the European Union, in particular in the political, economic and human rights areas.


They also discussed issues related to mitigating the effects of COVID-19 and joint efforts to address today’s challenges.


Besides, the delegations considered effects of climate change and environmental issues, as well as international and regional issues, the Tajik MFA information department said.


Tajik foreign minister reportedly spoke about measures to prevent the effects of COVID-19, the importance of implementing joint programs to overcome the current crisis and mobilizing additional resources to eliminate its effects under the new European Strategy for Central Asia and the Multi-Year Indicative Program 2021-2027.


Meanwhile, the European External Action Service (EEAS) says the participants also had the opportunity to exchange views on future cooperation and priorities for the programming of the EU aid under the 2021 – 2027 budget cycle.


The participants reportedly discussed ways to advance their partnership in a way that helps to tackle the wide range repercussions of the pandemic. They reaffirmed their common determination to take forward a broad cooperation agenda that helps Central Asian states to move to more resilient, greener and more sustainable development models. They have also stressed the importance of sustaining progress in the rule of law, democratic governance as well as human rights, including fundamental labor rights and gender equality. At the ministerial meeting, the EU announced the launch of the EU-UN Spotlight initiative in Central Asia to eliminate violence against women.


Participants reportedly commended the recommendations of the online “EU-Central Asia Civil Society Forum” held on October 27, which highlighted the need for a meaningful participation of civil society organizations in public decision-making, and for creating more opportunities for youth.


During the ministerial videoconference, participants confirmed their intention to organize a first-ever “EU-Central Asia Economic Forum” in 2021. This Forum is expected to give special attention to the promotion of innovative and sustainable approach to economic and business development, with a focus on greening the economy in all its aspects.


The participants in the ministerial stressed the need to intensify cooperation in connectivity, building upon the EU’s Strategy on connecting Europe and Asia and on the opportunities that would be provided under new EU financial instruments to stimulate private investment in sustainable connectivity projects.


They also discussed opportunities for linking Central Asia and Afghanistan more closely, including through projects in border management and energy, and welcomed the participation of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in a trilateral program to Support the Economic Empowerment of Afghan Women through Education and Training.


Source: Asia Plus