ASTANA – The Kazakh delegation led by Aigul Kuspan, сhairwoman of the Committee for International Affairs, Defense and Security of the Mazhilis, the lower house of the Kazakh Parliament, participated in the 20th meeting of the European Union (EU) and Kazakhstan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee in Brussels on Nov 13, reported Kazinform news agency.
The talks focused on various aspects of Kazakh-European cooperation, encompassing trade and economic relations, the development of regional policies in Central Asia, human rights, the rule of law, and the potential liberalization of the visa regime for Kazakh citizens.
Kuspan highlighted that Kazakhstan has undergone a significant and distinctive constitutional reform, which gained substantial support from the Kazakh people in a national referendum.
“Consequently, citizen participation in the political process has significantly expanded. An essential part of the political reforms was the introduction of a single seven-year term for the President. We transitioned to a mixed electoral system, conducting elections for the President, the Senate (the upper house of the Kazakh Parliament), Mazhilis (the lower house of the Kazakh Parliament), and maslikhats (local representative bodies) at all levels within a short period. The system for protecting human rights has been improved, enhancing the status and powers of human rights commissioners,” she said.
Kuspan also provided information about the establishment of the National Fund for Children, which involves allocating funds from the country’s natural resources into children’s accounts.
“While implementing reforms, we must first consider national interests – domestic political stability. Otherwise, the country’s sovereignty and independence may be in danger,” said Kuspan.
Tomáš Zdechovský, head of the Delegation for Cooperation with Central Asia and Mongolia (DCAS), acknowledged Kazakhstan’s progress in human rights protection. He also noted the increasing trade between the EU and Kazakhstan, highlighting the presence of various European investors, including the Škoda auto concern.
The discussions also covered the economic situation in Kazakhstan, issues related to global climate preservation, water resources in Central Asia, transport routes between Europe and Central Asia, and the situation in Afghanistan.
In comments to the Kazakh media, Zdechovský expressed the European Parliament’s full support for easing the visa regime for Kazakh citizens.
“I intend to send a letter to the European Commission and ask Ursula von der Leyen to do everything possible to improve the situation,” he said.