Kazakhstan is EU’s Reliable Partner in Central Asia, Says Foreign Minister

ASTANA – Kazakhstan will remain a reliable partner for the European Union (EU) in Central Asia, aiming to expand cooperation in numerous areas, Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu said at the 20th-anniversary meeting of the Kazakhstan-EU Cooperation Council on Oct. 23 in Luxembourg, reported the ministry’s press service.

The 20th anniversary meeting of the Kazakhstan-EU Cooperation Council. Photo credit: gov.kz.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain José Manuel Albares led the European delegation.

The parties discussed the practical application of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, with a particular focus on energy, transport and logistics, digitalization, civil aviation, visa facilitation, and the extraction and development of critical raw materials.

According to Nurtleu, the EU stands as Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner, with trade turnover totaling $40 billion and the volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) growing 23% to $12.5 billion in 2022.

The parties elaborated on joint actions to diversify transit corridors between Europe and Asia by realizing Kazakhstan’s transport and logistics potential and aligning it with the EU’s Global Gateway strategy through the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

Regarding visa facilitation for Kazakh citizens, Kazakhstan invited the European delegation for the next round of consultations in Astana.

The parties touched on education and science matters, highlighting the participation of Kazakh students in the EU’s Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programs as the prospects for strengthening their potential.

They also raised agriculture and water management issues, considering their close connection with food security and sustainable development in the region.

On the sidelines of the 19th Central Asia-EU Ministerial Meeting, Nurtleu spoke about the current state and future prospects of relations at several meetings with various high-ranking EU representatives.

During the talks with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, Nurtleu focused on global and regional security challenges.

European Commissioner for International Partnership Jutta Urpilainen sat down with Nurtleu to discuss digitization issues, specifically the provision of satellite Internet to sparsely populated areas and the implementation of recommendations for the soft infrastructure of Central Asia’s transport sector.

The meeting with the EU Special Representative for Central Asia Terhi Hakala centered on interregional cooperation, including issues related to climate change, water resources, regional security, and transport connectivity.

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