Region

Central Asia

Stories under this heading cover Central Asia – a region of Asia, stretching from the Caspian Sea in the west to Mongolia in the east, from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north.

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5th European Union-Central Asia meeting on Afghanistan held in Bishkek

5th European Union-Central Asia meeting on Afghanistan held in Bishkek

The fifth European Union-Central Asia meeting focusing on Afghanistan took place in Bishkek on 14 February. Discussions centred around the situation in Afghanistan, with particular emphasis placed on finding effective ways to interact with the country’s de facto government. Participants praised the recent United Nations (UN) report on Afghanistan and endorsed UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s initiative to establish the position of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan. Roza Otunbayeva, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, also attended the meeting.  The European Union was represented by the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Terhi Hakkala.

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Editor's choice
News
5th European Union-Central Asia meeting on Afghanistan held in Bishkek

5th European Union-Central Asia meeting on Afghanistan held in Bishkek

The fifth European Union-Central Asia meeting focusing on Afghanistan took place in Bishkek on 14 February. Discussions centred around the situation in Afghanistan, with particular emphasis placed on finding effective ways to interact with the country’s de facto government. Participants praised the recent United Nations (UN) report on Afghanistan and endorsed UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s initiative to establish the position of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan. Roza Otunbayeva, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, also attended the meeting.  The European Union was represented by the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Terhi Hakkala.
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Analysis
Unblocking the Caspian route for Turkmen gas

Unblocking the Caspian route for Turkmen gas

Turkmenistan, for decades considered one of the most closed countries in the world, is moving towards modest attempts at opening up its economy. Western sanctions against Russia which caused a gradual halt to energy supply from Russia to Europe and swelling Russian gas supplies to China, once Turkmenistan’s almost-exclusive client, made Ashgabat face a new reality that challenged its longstanding economic model, resulting in a significant deterioration of living standards and social discontent. Against this background, the country had to start considering options for diversifying its gas export geography and attracting foreign investment, writes Murad Muradov in this analysis prepared for commonspace.eu. The big question remains however whether the long-cherished idea of the Transcaspian pipeline, a link which would bring Turkmenistan’s gas to European markets, will finally come to fruition after many years of aborted attempts and uncertainty. This may be within reach sooner and faster than expected.
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News
G7 foreign ministers address global issues at their meeting in Tokyo

G7 foreign ministers address global issues at their meeting in Tokyo

The G7 Foreign Ministers, representing Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the High Representative of the European Union, concluded their two-day meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday (8 November), with a statement touching on a number of ongoing global crises. Winding up their meeting at the Iikura Guest House on 7-8 November under Japan's G7 Presidency, the ministers called for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war to allow in aid and help the release of hostages and sought a return to a "broader peace process", as Israeli forces continue to strike the Gaza Strip. In the joint statement they said that Israel had the right to defend itself, while underscoring the need to protect civilians and to comply with international humanitarian law. On Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ministers said: Our steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine’s fight for its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity will never waver. We continue to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s ongoing aggression, and we commit to standing by Ukraine for as long as it takes, while increasing economic pressure and imposing robust sanctions and other restrictions against Russia. A just and lasting peace cannot be realized without the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russia’s troops and military equipment from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. The statement also made reference to the situation in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. In their concluding statement, the ministers expressed unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Central Asian nations. "We remain resolved to support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries," the statement read. On the South Caucasus the statement said: "We are gravely concerned over the humanitarian consequences of the displacement of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh after the military operation conducted by Azerbaijan. We urge Azerbaijan to fully comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and welcome international efforts to address urgent humanitarian needs for those who have been displaced. We underline our support for advancing a sustainable and lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the principles of non-use of force, respect for sovereignty, the inviolability of borders, and territorial integrity."
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Commentary
Kyrgyz film, Kyz Ala Kachuu, wins Busan International Film Festival award, shedding light on the still deeply entrenched practice of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz film, Kyz Ala Kachuu, wins Busan International Film Festival award, shedding light on the still deeply entrenched practice of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Kyz Ala Kachuu is an obvious and unapologetic form of protest by Mirlan Abdykaylkov against the archaic and violating nature of the bride kidnapping traditions in Kyrgyzstan, writes Silvan Lochteken in this commentary for commonspace.eu. Its success at the Busan International Film Festival not only brings the international spotlight on the controversial practice, but reignites the contested debate on bride kidnapping that has polarized the Kyrgyz public for decades.
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News
Ambitious EU-Central Asia agenda requires political will and public engagement

Ambitious EU-Central Asia agenda requires political will and public engagement

It was overshadowed by more dramatic events in the world, yet despite this, the 19th  EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting held in Luxembourg on 23 October was a significant event, and another step in the process of building closer co-operation between Europe and the countries of Central Asia. A statement from Brussels said that “for the EU, the Ministerial meeting was an opportunity to highlight its strong commitment to the region and stress the importance of deeper cooperation in the context of the challenges emerging from regional dynamics, with a focus on the fall-out of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and the situation in Afghanistan.” A joint communique issued after the meeting covered a wide range of issues, and indicated the expanding agenda in the relations between the two group of countries. commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that the documents coming out of the Luxembourg Meeting of EU and Central Asia foreign ministers on 23 October are significant – they are not only declaratory as sometimes such statements are, but also offer a large number of tangible frameworks, proposals and action points that should keep officials on both sides busy for a while. The two sides have set an ambitious agenda for their future co-operation, but implementing this agenda is going to require political commitment. That will ensure its success up to a point. More will depend on public engagement on both sides, and securing that may be even more challenging.