President of the European Council Charles Michel on June 2 met with four of the five presidents of Central Asia as well as with Turkmenistan’s deputy chair of the cabinet in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, for what was billed as the second high-level meeting between the region and the European Union.
There is an ongoing struggle between the major powers for influence in Central Asia given geopolitical developments triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukairne 15 months ago.
In a statement, the European Council said: “During an open and constructive meeting, the participants reviewed the multilateral and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Central Asian states since last year's inaugural meeting in Astana, and discussed the EU – Central Asia relations in the context of international developments. They reaffirmed their commitment to continue the high-level dialogue at the level of the Heads of State and the EU and to the development of the EU- Central Asia partnership in line with the priority areas identified between the Parties with the shared goal of a prosperous and secure Central Asia.”
The leaders, added the statement, welcomed the contribution of existing and new high-level platforms in support of further institutionalisation of the relationship between the Central Asian countries and the EU.
“The participants expressed their satisfaction with the positive outcomes of the latest EU – Central Asia dialogues and platforms, in particular the 2nd EU – Central Asia Economic Forum held in Almaty on 18-19 May 2023, the Civil Society Forum in Tashkent on 10 March 2023, the EU-Central Asia High-Level Conference on Environment and Water Resources in Rome on 23-24 February 2023, the EU – Central Asia Connectivity Conference and the EU- Central Asia Ministerial Meeting held in Samarkand on 18-19 November 2022. The participants expressed their intention to adopt the EU – Central Asia Roadmap at the next Ministerial Meeting. They confirmed their readiness to continue the ambitious engagement in a way of mutual respect and mutual support,” the statement also said.
The meeting participants, it added, re-iterated their interest in strengthening joint actions to fully and effectively implement the Paris commitments of the parties. “They welcomed the outcomes of the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York, co-chaired by Tajikistan and the Netherlands and reconfirmed their will to work together on the Water Action Agenda. Noting that water is one of the most important assets for the peace and well-being of the peoples of Central Asia, they recognised that the interests of the countries and peoples of the region need to be taken into account to find a common solution to its sustainable use,” the statement noted.
As well as Michel, the meeting participants were President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Turkmenistan's Deputy Chair of the Cabinet of Ministers Nurmuhammet Amannepesov, who represented President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov.
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