In preparation for next year, when the EU plans to outline its new strategies for Central Asia, ministers of the five Central Asian countries have recently met in Brussels. The countries are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and are all former Soviet republics.
They are now involved in nation building projects, and, according to EU officials, have many positive aspects. For example: their ethnic and religious tolerance. In fact, Kyrgyzstan in particular has been described by the EU as the “sweetheart” of Central Asia.
Kazakhstan is the only member of the Eurasian Economic Union, having strong relations with the EU. The Commission said in a statement that Kazakhstan is “living proof” that it’s possible for Asian countries to have good relations with the EU and Russia simultaneously.
One MEP noted that Uzbekistan has benefited from a “new beginning” in 2016, following the death of its leader. Furthermore, Takistan, which formerly controlled parts of Iraq and Syria, has a large order with Afghanistan. The recent terror attacks, and the threat of future attacks, will be high on the EU’s agenda in the talks.
The terror attacks in Tajikistan also remind the EU of the terror threat across Central Asia. The Islamic state took responsibility for the attacks. Neighbouring Turkmenistan has one of worst human rights records and is the most autocratic of these countries. It has one of the largest oil reserves, but is still one of the poorest due to its leadership.
Back in 2007, the EU developed its current strategies for Central Asia. And although they have been updated in recent years, the new strategies will be implemented in the region next year. This is part of the the blocs new global strategy, and a wide range of topics and issues will be discussed.
The EU has made increased efforts to consult each country in the region whilst preparing its strategies. And, furthermore, it’s reported that it has also consulted with other major world players, like the US, Russia, China, and Japan, on its future policies.
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