ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov called on Thursday on the European Union to “expand its presence” in Central Asia and provide the region with the technology it needs to “continue our reforms on the road to democracy.”
“We urge the European Union to expand its presence and help transform Central Asia into an important global player,” Abdrakhmanov told more than 150 delegates attending the two-day international conference “25 years of EU-Central Asia Relations: From the Past to the Future” in Astana.
Kazakhstan’s top diplomat also said that the EU’s presence was important because it provides “a balance of forces in this region.”
“One of the priority areas of cooperation can be the development of the transit potential of our region” as a corridor between Europe and Asia, the foreign minister said.
But even more importantly, Abdrakhmanov added, “is to receive technology transfer in order to participate in the fourth industrial revolution, in order to continue our reforms on the road to democracy.”
The EU special representative for Central Asia, Peter Burian, reminded the delegates of Europe’s strong backing of the sovereignty of the Central Asian countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“Central Asia is the main gateway of Europe to Asia. This is a large and growing market with great potential,” Burian said, adding that the EU was ready to “become a real partner of Central Asia in the process of further modernization.”
“We want to be actively engaged in the region as a balancing power, we want to bring in our technologies, our knowledge, our experiences in implementing strategies and projects in Central Asia,” the EU official said.
Spanish Ambassador to Kazakhstan Pedro Jose Sanz Serrano said the EU “has no geostrategic ambitions” in the region.
“What we hope for is stability, peace and development because that will benefit everyone,” the Spanish diplomat said.
The aim of the conference is to “contribute to the drafting of a new strategy for the European Union in the region by 2019,” the office of the EU ambassador to Kazakhstan, Traian Hristea, said in a statement Thursday.
Discussion topics include security in Europe and Central Asia, gender equality and trade and investment cooperation.