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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Biden meets C5 leaders to confirm commitment for Central Asian countries security and prosperity

Biden meets C5 leaders to confirm commitment for Central Asian countries security and prosperity

US President, Joe Biden, on Tuesday (19 September) met in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the leaders of the five Central Asian Republics. Attending the meeting were the presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. This was the inaugural C5+1 presidential summit.   A readout from the White House said that the leaders discussed a range of issues, including security, trade and investment, regional connectivity, the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, and ongoing reforms to improve governance and the rule of law. 
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Biden to meet Central Asian leaders in the first C5+1 presidential summit

Biden to meet Central Asian leaders in the first C5+1 presidential summit

For a number of years, the United States has promoted a mechanism for dialogue with the five Central Asian Republics: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Known as the C5 + 1 these meetings have usually be en held at the level of foreign minister. The first meeting was held in 2015, and the mechanism now also has a secretariat to ensure continuation between meetings. Today (19 September) in New York, US president Joe Biden will take the relationship further, by upgrading the dialogue to presidential level. This is both symbolic and significant. For a long time the United States has been accused of abandoning Central Asia, tacitly accepting that this was Russia's back yard. Well if it ever was, it no longer is. China has become an even more important player in Central Asia than Russia, and the Central Asian Republics are desperately trying to open up to the world. A slow, painful but hugely necessary process of reform is taking place in the five countries, in some pursued with more enthusiasm than others. At today's meeting, President Biden is expected to give encouragement to this reform process, but the key message will be one of support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the five countries - a welcome message in the region given Russia's continued pressures.  Also on the US president's agenda will be Afghanistan, which neighbours a number of the C5 countries. And of course there is the issue of sanctions against Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine. Russia has been trying to use the Central Asian republics to circumvent the sanctions. This is an important issue for the international community and the US president will seek the best way to secure the support of the C5 governments.
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Fidan in Kazakhstan as Turkiye consolidates its position in Central Asia

Fidan in Kazakhstan as Turkiye consolidates its position in Central Asia

Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan was in Kazakhstan this as Türkiye intensifies its contacts with Central Asia, and the Turkic republics of the region with whom it shares strong historical and linguistic ties. In Astana, Fidan met with the country's president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Monday (11 September). This was Fidan's first visit to Kazakhstan after his appointment as Turkish Foreign Minister, He was previously head of the country's intelligence service. The visit is part of the preparations for the next summit of the Turkic States which will take place in Astana in November. The Organisation of Turkic States was established shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union as Türkiye sought to rebuild old historical and ethnic and linguistic ties with the region. But at the time Russian pressure stopped the governments of the region from getting too close to Turkiye. The situation is now very different, and with governments across Central Asia seeking new openings to the rest of the world, the Turkish connection is becoming increasingly important. Fidan conveyed greetings from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, highlighting that the Turkish side intends to make every effort to promote cooperation between the two countries and take interaction within regional and international structures to a new level. According to Fidan, the Turkish President plans to comprehensively discuss the prospects for strengthening the strategic partnership between the two states during his upcoming visit in November, which is set to coincide with the summit of the Organization of Turkic States.
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Opinion
Türkiye's Evolving South Caucasus Policy under Re-Elected Erdoğan

Türkiye's Evolving South Caucasus Policy under Re-Elected Erdoğan

The South Caucasus has consistently occupied a pivotal position within Turkish foreign policy. This significance has been underscored by Türkiye's deepening influence in the region, a trend that has gained momentum especially in the wake of the Second Karabakh War. With the recent re-election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the Presidency of the country, it is certain that Ankara will continue its active engagement in the South Caucasus. However, a nuanced analysis is imperative to fully grasp the multi-pronged approach that Türkiye has adopted in its dealings with this region. This strategy involves complex engagements with Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, offering a perspective through which the intricate web of geopolitical challenges can be unraveled. In this op-ed for commonspace.eu, Simona Scotti says that "this dynamic foreign policy stance also underscores the significance of the South Caucasus in extending Turkish influence to Central Asia.  In recent years, the growing importance of this region has garnered significant attention, not only for Türkiye but also for Europe. Situated at the crossroads of continents, Central Asia has emerged as a hub of economic potential, strategic significance, and cultural exchange. Türkiye, with its historical ties and shared Turkic heritage, recognizes the value of strengthening its relations with Central Asian countries. Consequently, the South Caucasus assumes a pivotal role in Türkiye's efforts to foster deeper diplomatic, economic, and cultural connections with Central Asia, ultimately benefiting both Türkiye and Europe by promoting regional cooperation and diversification of partnerships."
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Kazakhstan-Afghanistan business forum to take place from 3-5 August

Kazakhstan-Afghanistan business forum to take place from 3-5 August

A Kazakhstan-Afghanistan business forum is set to begin in the Kazakh capital Astana tomorrow on Thursday (3 August), lasting until Saturday (5 August). According to a statement from the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, around 150 Afghan entrepreneurs from different sectors of the economy including second-level banks will be in attendance, while from the Kazakh side the Ministry of Trade and Integration, the company Kazakeksport, second-level banks, and logistics companies will also attend.
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Commentary
Commentary: EU reaches out to Central Asia’s “Cinderella”

Commentary: EU reaches out to Central Asia’s “Cinderella”

"Whilst this week’s EU-Tajikistan meeting can be dismissed as another piece of EU bureaucracy at play, for Tajikistan this mechanism is also a lifeline to the wider world," writes commonspace.eu in this commentary. "Tajikistan has a lot of potential, in terms of natural resources, tourism and connectivity which remains untapped. It has in the last couple of years made various overtures to the EU indicating a willingness to engage more. It is right that this week the EU has sent a message that it is interested too." Following an EU-Tajikistan meeting on Monday (26 June), a statement said that “the participants reviewed their cooperation, including economic and trade relations, issues related to the security of energy supply, and connectivity both within Central Asia and between Central Asia and Europe. The two sides assessed progress in implementing the outcomes of both the EU-Central Asia Sustainable Connectivity Conference, and the EU-Central Asia Economic Forum [...] During their discussions, the two sides also touched on matters of regional and international interest, including the situation in Afghanistan and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU encouraged Tajikistan’s engagement with Central Asia’s neighbouring countries and welcomed its constructive role for broader cooperation within the Central Asia region and beyond.”