EU and Kazakhstan have committed to 'further strengthening' bilateral relations between the two sides

Фото:EU Reporter

Almaty. May 12. Information Center - The pledge came following a meeting in Brussels on Monday (10 May) of the Co-operation Council, the body that oversees EU/Kazak relations, writes Colin Stevens, EU Reporter reports.

The EU said it “looked forward” to the first official visit of President Tokayev to Brussels.

The Co-operation Council, the 18th to be held, reviewed the progress made in the implementation of EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), which entered into force on 1 March 2020.

After the meeting Kazakhstan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi and Augusto Santos Silva, minister of state and minister for foreign affairs of Portugal held a joint press conference.

Tileuberdi, who led the Kazak delegation, told reporters, “This meeting was a welcome chance to discuss, in person, the strength of our relationship with the EU and new opportunities presented by this Agreement.

“The EU continues to be our largest trading partner, accounting for nearly half of our for trade and investment and I hope thiswill continue because the new Agreement will open up 29 areas of co-operation.”

He added: “We are also ready to create ‘most favourable economic’ conditions for European companies in Kazakhstan.We also want to strengthen people to people contact, another important item on our agenda, and hope to facilitate a visa regime for Kazak citizens wishing to visit Europe, which is also high on our agenda. We hope to launch discussions soon on this issue.

“We also discussed the ongoing economic and social reforms initiated by our president which demonstrate our continued commitment to strengthening a range of issue, including human rights. We also noted the importance of  our target of achieving carbon neutrality.”

He said: “In general, implementation of the Agreement marks a  new stage in our relations with the EU and will pave the way for new opportunities.  I reiterate our firm commitment to continue these close contacts.”

Speaking alongside him, Santos Silva said: “We have a very constructive and fruitful discussions. Our relations have progressed  steadily through continued exchanges in the Cooperation Committee, subcommittees and dialogues.Kazakhstan remains our main trading partner in central Asia and trade, even in this most difficult of years, has consolidated.”

The minister, who chaired the meeting, noted, “We also discussed good governance, human rights and engagement with civil society. The EU strongly supports Kazakhstan in its reform and modernisation process and hopes that these will be effectively implemented.

“We look forward to further strengthening our bilateral relations and the EU looks forward to 1st official visit of the Kazak president when conditions allow.”

In relation to trade, even in a year as difficult as 2020, the EU has consolidated its position as Kazakhstan’s first trade partner and first foreign investor. Total EU-Kazakhstan trade reached €18.6 billion in 2020, with EU imports worth €12.6bn and EU exports €5.9bn. The EU is by far Kazakhstan's first trading partner overall, representing 41% of total Kazakh exports.

The EU welcomed the progress made in the framework of the high-level platform for dialogue between the Kazakhstan Government and the EU on economic and business matters (Business Platform), launched in 2019 and chaired by the Prime Minister, Askar Mamin. The platform acknowledges the importance of the EU in Kazakhstan's external trade, and discussions on a range of issues contribute to attract more investment in Kazakhstan.

The Co-operation Council meeting on Monday also provided an opportunity for reinforced political dialogue and the EU welcomed Kazakhstan’s ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A council spokesman told this website that the European Parliament Resolution on Human Rights, adopted in February, was discussed, and Kazakhstan’s recently announced third stage of political reform aimed at further democratisation of society. The EU stressed the importance of “tangible results”, in particular in addressing obstacles to the independence of lawyers, freedom of expression, as well as freedom of assembly and association, including trade unions, independence and pluralism of the media and a thriving civil society. The EU, said the spokesman, “continues to advocate for the criminalization of domestic violence”.

The EU, he said, appreciates Kazakhstan’s offer to host the third EU-Central Asia Civil Society Forum to take place in Almaty later this year.

The Council welcomed Kazakhstan's Green Agenda and the EU said it looks forward to the EU-Kazakhstan Climate Conference on 3 June, in Nur-Sultan, and joint work towards the COP26 on climate, especially in light of President Tokayev’s pledge for Kazakhstan to become climate neutral by 2060.

The two sides also discussed recent developments as regards Central Asian regional cooperation and the EU thanked Kazakhstan for its active role in promoting peace, stability and security in the wider region, including with Afghanistan. Regional security was also discussed, including border management, counter-terrorism and the fight against drug trafficking.

In the margins of the meeting, Tileuberdi had a bilateral meeting with the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, where they discussed EU-Kazakhstan relations, including human rights, as well as regional and international developments and cooperation. Tileuberdi also met with European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore.

Источник: EU Reporter

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