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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German President Steinmeier visits Kazakhstan, holds talks with Kazakh President Tokayev

German President Steinmeier visits Kazakhstan, holds talks with Kazakh President Tokayev

The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has held talks with the Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during an official visit to Kazakhstan on 20 June. President Tokayev said that Frank-Walter Steinmeier's state visit "opens up good opportunities for further strengthening of comprehensive cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany", according to an official read-out from the Presidential Administration.  "We have been anticipating your visit, which is regarded as a very important one in terms of giving additional boost to the development of cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany. Germany is considered here in Kazakhstan as a key partner in Europe. And we will be doing our utmost in order to enhance our cooperation in a variety of domains," said President Tokayev. On his part, President Steinmeier said that Germany is "not only looking back to the past 30 years of diplomatic relations, we are looking to the presence of our especially but not only economic growing relations, you are mentioning that many German companies are heavily invested in the meanwhile, here in Kazakhstan, and, you know, beyond economic relations."
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Commentary: Kazakhstan throws a lavish party in honour of multilateralism

Commentary: Kazakhstan throws a lavish party in honour of multilateralism

"Such big jamborees as the Astana International Forum happen often, and are – more often than not – considered as talking shops with limited results. They are usually a part of a branding exercise by countries that can afford them. Most participants forget about them the moment they leave, and the impact beyond that is often negligible," writes commonspace.eu in this commentary. However, "the Astana International Forum marks the emergence of a new Kazakhstan on the international stage. This year’s event was the first. Future forums will be a good gauge for how this new Kazakhstan is performing." Writing for a blog on Al Jazeera on the eve of the opening of the forum, Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister, Serik Zhumangarin described the Astana International Forum as “a global event aimed at renewing the culture of multilateralism”, and said that it was a part of Kazakhstan’s multi-vector foreign policy which seeks to engage countries in the north, south, east and west.
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First Astana International Forum taking place in Kazakhstan on 8-9 June

First Astana International Forum taking place in Kazakhstan on 8-9 June

The first Astana International Forum (AIF) is taking place in Kazakhstan on Thursday and Friday (8-9 June). An initiative of the Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Astana International Forum writes that it will "serve as a platform for high-level delegates from foreign governments, international organizations, businesses and academic circles to engage in dialogue and seek solutions to problems such as climate change, food shortages and energy security". Over 1,000 people will participate in the conference, which is running under the theme "Tackling Challenges Through Dialogue: Towards Cooperation, Development & Progress". There will be several keynote speeches and over 40 panel sessions, discussions, and side events. The decline of Russia in Central Asia as a result of its ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine has propelled the region into a new geopolitical reality. Especially on trade, difficulties trading via Russia as a result of sanctions have given Central Asia a renewed, critical position in facilitating east-west trade. To that end, Central Asian connectivity is also high on the agenda at the AIF.
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Kazakhstan and EU discuss next steps to deepen cooperation in key areas

Kazakhstan and EU discuss next steps to deepen cooperation in key areas

Representatives of Kazakhstan and the European Union met in the Kazakh capital Astana on Tuesday (23 May) to discuss the next steps for deeping their partnership at the 20th meeting of their mutual Cooperation Committee. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Roman Vassilenko, and Luc Devigne, the Deputy Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia and OSCE from the European External Action Service. Also present at the meeting were representatives of Kazakh ministries and agencies, various directorates of the European Commission, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps of EU member states. The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that the discussion focused on the practical implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between Kazakhstan and the EU and its member states, which covers 29 areas. Kazakhstan and the EU discussed cooperation in political, trade and economic spheres, the rule of law and human rights, as well as interaction in transport, energy, education and science, environmental protection and combating climate change.
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Xi outlines grand plan on how China and Central Asian states can develop together

Xi outlines grand plan on how China and Central Asian states can develop together

Leaders of China and Central Asian countries on Friday (19 May) signed and released the Xian Declaration following the first China-Central Asia Summit. The Declaration hailed the cooperation between the two sides as all-round and productive, stressing that the six countries agreed to build a closer community with a shared future between China and Central Asian countries. "This summit has added new impetus to the development and revitalisation of the six counties, and injected strong positive energy into regional peace and stability," Xi said later at a press conference with his Central Asian counterparts. "We will jointly foster a new paradigm of deeply complementary and high-level win-win cooperation." Xi said China and the Central Asian countries should deepen trust and offer "clear and strong support" on core interests such as sovereignty, independence, national dignity and long-term development. "China is ready to help Central Asian countries improve their law enforcement, security, and defence capability construction," he said. In what appears to be a concession to Central Asian states who are keen to diversify their export routes, China said that "in the longer term", it supports construction of a cross-Caspian Sea international transport corridor, and would strengthen the construction of transport hubs of China-Europe freight train services.
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President Xi hosts first ever China-Central Asia summit in Xi'an

President Xi hosts first ever China-Central Asia summit in Xi'an

The President of China Xi Jinping is hosting the first ever China-Central Asia summit on Thursday and Friday (18 and 19 May). President Xi will host the presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in the historic city of Xi'an, which once marked the beginning of the Silk Road trade route stretching from China to Europe. It will be the first in-person meeting between the presidents of the six countries after they held an online summit in January 2022 marking 30 years of relations. Chinese officials have said that the meeting will mark "a new era of cooperation" as Central Asia looks to expand ties both to its east and west as Russian influence in the region wanes as a result of its ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to the Chinese government newspaper Global Times, the presidents of the six countries will "exchange views on establishing mechanisms, cooperation and international, regional issues with respective concerns, as well as signing a slew of important political documents on trade, investment, connectivity and other areas".