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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Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ratifies treaty on allied relations with Uzbekistan

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ratifies treaty on allied relations with Uzbekistan

Kazakhstan's President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, officially ratified on Monday (20 May) a significant treaty on allied relations with Uzbekistan, to elevate the bilateral relationship to a new strategic level. This pivotal agreement, initially signed in Tashkent on 22 December 2022, underscores a commitment to mutual independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, along with fostering sustainable economic growth between the two nations.
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The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

The fate of Central Asia may be decided on the steppes and in the forests of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin was sworn in for another six-year term as the President of Russia on Tuesday, 7 May. With Putin having been the undisputed leader of Russia for decades, continuity, one would have thought, was assured. Yet Putin himself, on Monday (13 May) speaking at a meeting of the Security Council spoke of “a new political cycle” in Russia. Some of the first decisions of the re-elected president give us a sense of what is to come. First, there was the surprise dismissal of Sergei Shoigu as Minister of Defence, and his transfer to be the Secretary of the Security Council. There had been speculation for some time that Shoigu’s time at the Ministry of Defence was up. But what was surprising was the appointment of Andrei Belousov, former Deputy Prime Minister – an efficient technocrat with an economic background to replace him. That the Russian Ministry of Defence has needed a shake-up for some time has been abundantly clear, but Andrei Belousov’s mission seems to be more ambitious than that: He is tasked with transforming the Russian Defence Ministry into a modern institution that can embrace new ideas and techniques, and that has enough flexibility to conduct the sort of hybrid warfare that is likely to be the order of the day going forward. So despite all of Putin’s bravados about the Russian nuclear arsenal, it seems he is putting his faith in a more innovative, agile, and versatile force. Then on Monday, 13 May, Putin held his first meeting of the Security Council since his inauguration. The Kremlin website only referred to one item out of apparently several that were discussed, namely relations with the post-Soviet Republics, a subject much close to the heart of the president. Putin reiterated that this was a priority in foreign policy. Putin said, “we should pay even more attention to this area in the new political cycle in Russia and discuss the way we will organise this work from all points of view, including organisational”. So it appears that there is new thinking in this sphere, details of which is not yet known.

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Turkistan Declaration adopted at the first ever Central Asian Interparliamentary Forum

Turkistan Declaration adopted at the first ever Central Asian Interparliamentary Forum

The first ever meeting of the Central Asian Interparliamentary Forum is taking place in the Kazakh city of Turkistan on Friday (10 February), which has resulted in the adoption of the landmark Turkistan Declaration. The forum, which brings together parliamentarians from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, is discussing the strengthening of comprehensive strategic cooperation among Central Asian states and the role of parliaments in this process.  More specifically, the forum is discussing topics including regional security, the development of joint infrastructure and logistics projects, transit and transport potential of the region, and alternative supply routes from Central Asia. Alongside discussing strategic cooperation, parliamentarians are also discussing expanding cultural and humanitarian cooperation based on a common historical and cultural heritage.
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A new sense of purpose in Central Asia as leaders seek better relations between their countries and with the rest of the world

A new sense of purpose in Central Asia as leaders seek better relations between their countries and with the rest of the world

For more than three decades after the collapse of the USSR the five Central Asia Republics continued to live largely in the shadow of Moscow.  Neighbouring China made headway, particularly in the economic sphere, largely with Moscow’s acquiescence, and there were a few moments when the west appeared to be making a mark on the region too, especially after the 9/11 attacks, when the US was allowed facilities to help with its invasion of Afghanistan. But this moment did not last long. On everything else that mattered, and for most of the time, Moscow continued to call the shots. The last five years have seen a seismic change in the region. A new generation of leaders are seeking better relations with the rest of the world: connectivity has become a buzzword, and there is a genuine effort to engage with the EU and the US, in most if not all the capitals. Ukraine, and the implications of the Russian invasion on future relations with all the post Soviet states, has focused minds, particularly in Tashkent and Astana.
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EU and Uzbekistan officials meet to discuss ties, promise to expand cooperation

EU and Uzbekistan officials meet to discuss ties, promise to expand cooperation

The Uzbek Minister of Investments, Industry and Trade Laziz Qudratov hosted the head of the delegation of the EU in Uzbekistan Charlotte Adriaen on Monday (30 January) to discuss ways to advance bilateral ties in trade, economic and investment spheres. The parties explored the opportunities for expanding the main areas of bilateral financial and technical cooperation, and discussed the EU's Multi-Annual Indicative Programme for Uzbekistan (MIP), the implementation of which has been allocated €76m for the period 2021-2024. Additional funds for the same time frame were also earmarked for Human Rights support (€3.6m), and Civil Society Organisation (€3.4m). The MIP 2021-2027 has three main priorities, namely effective governance and digital transformation; inclusive, digital and green growth, and the development of a smart eco-friendly agri-food sector.