17th EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting held in Dushanbe

AKIPRESS.COM – Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission and the Commissioner for International Partnerships organized the 17th EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting on 22 November 2021 in Dushanbe.

The participants reaffirmed their shared commitment to forge a strong, ambitious and forward-looking partnership based on their common values ​​and mutual interests. Participants reaffirmed the importance of advancing on the rule of law, democracy, governance, gender equality and universal human rights, including labor rights, rights of ethnic minorities and full enjoyment by women and girls for their human rights. Participants stressed the importance of promoting the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in decision-making. They called for stepping up cooperation to create opportunities for the region’s youth, including better access to quality education for all, especially girls, and decent work. The European Union proposed exploring the possibility of establishing a regional dialogue on the effective implementation of international labor standards.

EU and Central Asian Foreign Ministers underlined the relevance of the priorities set in the 2019 EU Strategy for Central Asia – promoting resilience, prosperity and regional cooperation – for development future of the region. The EU underlined that these priorities would guide the programming of its development cooperation under its new multiannual financial framework. The EU has indicated that it is currently starting preparations for two regional Team Europe initiatives, respectively on digital connectivity and on water, energy and climate, both identified in areas crucial for economic and human development. sustainable development of Central Asia. Participants underlined the importance of enhanced partnership and cooperation agreements to advance bilateral relations between the EU and the countries of Central Asia.

Central Asian ministers greatly appreciated the assistance provided by the EU to their countries to cope with the socio-economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. They particularly welcomed the EU’s support for the rapid mobilization of WHO’s action in the region and for the preparation of a follow-up program for the region, which will focus directly on support for immunization, which is essential to “build back better”. Participants underscored their determination to work together to promote a green and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving no one behind.

Participants welcomed the results of the first in-person “EU-Central Asia Economic Forum” held on 5 November 2021 in Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic) and underlined the contribution that EU and Central Asian companies can bring to the post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery. They underlined the importance of a healthy business and investment climate through legal certainty, more transparent and predictable rules and the fight against corruption. Participants welcomed Uzbekistan’s proposal to host an “EU-Central Asia Tourism Forum” in 2022.

Participants stressed the need to step up cooperation on sustainable connectivity between the EU and Central Asia in the areas of trade, transport, energy, digital and people-to-people contacts. The EU presented its upcoming strategy on Global Gateway Partnerships. Participants hailed the success of the International Conference on Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities which was held from July 15-16, 2021 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan stressed the importance of the 15th Summit of Heads of State of the Organization for Economic Cooperation, which will take place on November 28, 2021 in Ashgabat, and the forthcoming Ministerial Conference on Transport for Landlocked Developing Countries ” Ashgabat Process – Funding for Better Connectivity ”to be held on 5-6 April 2022. Participants welcomed Uzbekistan’s proposal to host an EU-Central Asia high-level ministerial conference on connectivity in 2022.

The EU urged further progress in implementing the Paris climate commitments and in the region’s transition to a green economy, including integrating increasing shares of renewable energy into the energy market. electricity, with the aim of climate neutrality. In this regard, the EU called on Central Asian countries to join the Global Methane Pledge. The participants recognized the need to improve the interconnectivity of the regional electricity system and to continue efforts to increase energy efficiency. Following the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the EU underlined the importance for all parties to the Paris Climate Agreement to submit ambitious nationally determined contributions. Ministers welcomed Tajikistan’s intention to host a water conference in June 2022 and to co-host the 2023 United Nations Water Conference with the Netherlands to support international efforts in the context of the United Nations Water Decade and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the water-related SDGs. Tajikistan presented its intention to declare 2025 the International Year of Glacier Preservation and set a specific date for World Glacier Day.

The participants stressed that the peaceful settlement of disputes and the establishment of relations of trust and good neighborliness are essential for economic and social development. They welcomed the initiative of Turkmenistan to host on December 12, 2021 in Ashgabat an international conference on “Politics of peace and confidence – Basis of international security, stability and development” in the context of the proclamation of 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Confidence by the UN. General assembly.

Participants expressed their common concern about the regional repercussions of developments in Afghanistan. They called for the promotion and respect of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, in particular women and girls as well as children and persons belonging to ethnic and minority groups, and for the implementation place of an inclusive and representative government.

The participants looked forward to stepping up EU-Central Asia cooperation in security and border management, as well as in the common fight against terrorism, transnational organized crime, trafficking in human beings, smuggling of migrants, trafficking in small arms and light weapons, transnational drug trafficking and cybersecurity. threats, while acting in accordance with universal human rights commitments and the rule of law.

The participants welcomed the cooperation in the fields of education, vocational training and skills development, as a key factor to ensure the sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development of the region. They highlighted the key role that science, technology and innovation play in accelerating economic diversification and transformation, improving productivity and competitiveness, as well as enabling the integration of Central Asian countries into the global economy. . In this regard, the participants took note of the proposal of the Kyrgyz Republic to establish a European university in Central Asia. The EU and Central Asia have recognized the value of international cooperation in research and innovation between their two regions, notably through scientific collaboration and the funding opportunities offered by the EU Framework Program for research and innovation Horizon Europe. The Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan proposed that the European Union launch a new regional program for Central Asia on cooperation in the fields of science, of technology and innovation.

The participants agreed to meet in 2022 in Brussels.

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