MILAN – Kazakhstan has officially joined the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a key forum for dialogue and cooperation between the two continents, and took part in the 10th ASEM Summit on Oct. 16-17 in Milan.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev headed the Kazakh delegation at the two-day summit, addressing an audience of more than 50 heads of state and government and holding a number of bilateral meetings with his European and Asian counterparts.
Speaking at the plenary session, “Promotion of financial and economic cooperation through enhanced Europe-Asia connectivity,” President Nazarbayev said the search for common answers to today’s challenges and threats requires a shared European and Asian agenda.
“The most efficient way to overcome the existing crisis is to unleash the integration potential of the Eurasian region,” he said.
“It is necessary to change the paradigm of international cooperation, which implies taking real action in eliminating protectionist barriers, opening markets and increasing bilateral trade,” Nazarbayev said of his vision for future cooperation between Asia and Europe.
One of the key directions of cooperation, the President said, is the transformation of global financial architecture, along with overcoming imbalances in the financial sector and developing of an effective model for the regulation of international capital flows.
Nazarbayev also stressed the need to develop new financial bridges, noting that the regional financial centre of Almaty has the potential to unite parts of Europe and Asia.
Another key to the development of the region is strengthening transport and transit infrastructure, in particular the revival of the Silk Road, which will provide Europe with the shortest route to Asia.
The President stressed the importance of access to modern technology and energy resources. Kazakhstan, a stable supplier of energy to Europe and Asia, is making efforts to diversify energy routes, he said.
Anotherpriority for sustainable development in the region is the formation of common trade infrastructure, the key element of which will be the Eurasian Economic Union, the Kazakh leader posited.
“Moreover, today, Asia and Europe need to rediscover each other and build a fundamentally new foundation for cooperation. Kazakhstan’s G-Global initiative could become a platform for concerted international action in the field of economics and finance,” Nazarbayev said of the dialogue platform Kazakhstan introduced in 2012.
“Kazakhstan, as a full-fledged member of the Asia-Europe Meeting, is ready to provide all possible support to promote dialogue and cooperation between the two [part of the Eurasian continent],” he noted in conclusion.
While in Milan, Nazarbayev held a number of bilateral meetings with his European and Asian counterparts. With German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he discussed strengthening trade and economic cooperation and exchanged views on the most pressing international security issues. With U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, the discussion focused on a range of issues in the trade, economic and investment areas, as well as international issues, and with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, the Kazakh President negotiated on investment, trade, economic and energy problems.
Nazarbayev also held talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to discuss trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian issues and future cooperation within various international organisations.
Among the Asian leaders who met with President Nazarbayev on the sidelines of the summit were President of South Korea Park Ceun-hye, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang.
On his way back to Astana, President Nazarbayev summarised the results of the summit for the Kazakh media, noting that the talks he had on the sidelines of the meeting were aimed at expanding and deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as well as identifying new ways to develop cooperation.
“These meetings expand opportunities for attracting investment to Kazakhstan in the difficult situation in the global economy that we face today. Many countries are seeking to invest in Kazakhstan, which creates incentives for further economic development, new jobs and the improvement of the lives of our people,” he said.
The President stressed that the participants of the summit in Milan discussed the settlement of the situation in Ukraine. He noted that the conflict should be resolved exclusively through the negotiation process and that Kazakhstan was making every effort to support that.
The Asia-Europe Meeting was formed in 1996 and currently has 53 partners, with Croatia and Kazakhstan joining at this summit. The forum provides a platform for fostering political dialogue, reinforcing economic and trade cooperation and promoting partnership in various areas, including the environment, culture, education and social issues. In addition to holding government-level meetings, ASEM also brings together members of parliament, the business sector, civil society, academia and the media by encouraging people-to-people contact.
ASEM partners account for around 60 percent of the world’s population, half of global gross domestic product and almost 70 percent of international commerce.
The ASEM group includes the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), charged with promoting cultural, intellectual and people-to-people contacts between the two regions; the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEFP), a meeting point for civil society; the Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF), which supports business-to-business exchanges and the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Forum (ASEP), which encourages parliamentary cooperation.