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EU-Central Asia discuss security challenges, joint cooperation

11th High-Level Political and Security Dialogue held in Brussels
European External Action Service (EEAS)
Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service, and the five Central Asian Deputy Foreign Ministers for the eleventh round of the annual High-Level Political and Security Dialogue (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) meet in Brussels, Belgium, June 5, 2024.

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The European Union and the five Central Asian Deputy Foreign Ministers discussed common security challenges and joint cooperation to deepen ties between the two regions in Brussels on June 5.  This meeting was the eleventh round of the annual EU-Central Asia High-Level Political and Security Dialogue (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and was chaired by Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service.

“The EU reiterated its strong commitment to deepening cooperation with the region, which continues to be confronted with the repercussions of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the negative developments in Afghanistan, as well as the situation in the Middle East,” the European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a statement, adding that all participants agreed that the current turbulent geopolitical situation bears significant impact on the security, stability and economic development of both regions.

On this occasion, the EU reaffirmed its willingness to support all efforts aiming to intensify EU cooperation on security with Central Asia, notably in thematic areas such as management of water-related challenges, energy and climate change and on connectivity, the EEAS said.

The EU’s Central Asian partners expressed their appreciation for the bloc’s support through regional programs in the areas of border management, law enforcement and countering drug trafficking, the EEAS added.

The participants from the EU and the five Central Asian states exchanged views and discussed progress on regional cooperation on a number of key issues, including counterterrorism and violent extremism, drug trafficking and border management, and agreed to strengthen cooperation in these areas. Cybersecurity and countering hybrid threats also featured in the exchanges, with participants identifying disinformation and proliferation of extremist and radical content online as pressing challenges.

According to the EEAS, participants discussed the preparation of the next EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting, which will provide an opportunity to take stock of progress on the implementation of the Joint Roadmap for Deepening Ties between the EU and Central Asia.

The High-Level Political and Security Dialogue takes place in the context of increased engagement between Central Asia and the European Union. Two region-to-region meetings of the Heads of State of Central Asia and the President of the European Council took place on October 27, 2022 and June 2, 2023. Furthermore, at the EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting that took place in the presence of the 27 EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on October 23, 2023, the parties adopted a Joint Roadmap for Deepening Ties between the EU and Central Asia, which outlines concrete actions for strengthening cooperation, among others, in the area of security. At the Ministerial meeting, both sides also committed to hold the first-ever EU-Central Asia Summit in 2024.

The High-Level Political and Security Dialogue is held regularly; the first Dialogue took place in 2013 in Brussels. The next round will be held in 2025.

Although the June 9 European Parliament elections will generate a change in assignments for the EU Commissioners at the very least, the EEAS, with many permanent staffers, will be deeply engaged in keeping planned EU-Central Asia dialogues and meetings on their current timeline and focus areas.

EU-Kazakhstan hold 21st Cooperation Committee Meeting

Meanwhile on June 6, in Brussels, EU and Kazakhstan also discussed EU-Central Asia regional cooperation, including in the field of education, water and environment, rule of law, security, counter-terrorism, fighting drug trafficking and border management during their 21st meeting of the Cooperation Committee. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia, European External Action Service, Luc Devigne and Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, Roman Vassilenko.

The EU remains Kazakhstan’s first trading partner and as a bloc is the biggest foreign investor in Kazakhstan. The EU underlined the importance of improving Kazakhstan’s business climate to take full advantage of the economic possibilities under the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), the EEAS said in a press release.

The EU and Kazakhstan also took stock of continued progress on connectivity. Following the successful Global Gateway Investors’ Forum for EU-Central Asia Transport Connectivity on January 29-30 in Brussels, the EU is advancing on delivering the EUR 10 billion pledge in the form of ongoing and planned investments in sustainable transport connectivity in Central Asia.

The two sides also discussed cooperation on critical raw materials, energy security, green transition and fighting climate change. Kazakhstan remains a reliable energy supplier for the EU, the EEAS said, adding that the EU welcomed growing cooperation in education and research and expressed readiness to continue joint work on people-to-people mobility, including by opening up the aviation space. The EEAS noted that the EU looked forward to the initialing of the Horizontal Aviation Agreement as soon as possible.

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