NUR-SULTAN – The European Union is aiming to strengthen its partnership with Central Asian countries, European Council President Donald Tusk said Friday.
“The European Union has just outlined its strategy for a deeper partnership with Central Asia and with all of its countries,” The European leader said after meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Tusk, who arrived in Nur-Sultan from Tajikistan, called Kazakhstan a “crucial partner for the EU” and stressed that the positive dynamics in the region “have created new opportunities for cooperation” between the EU and Central Asia.
“Your country is a bridge between Europe and the Far East and between Russia and South Asia. With our new Central Asia Strategy, we propose to forge a stronger and modern partnership, deepen our cooperation on energy, transport and digital connections,” said the Polish politician.
Tusk said he discussed with the Kazakh leader the Central Asian nation’s reform program to improve conditions for business, the rule of law, fundamental rights, good governance and the fight against corruption.
“The EU is Kazakhstan’s first trading partner and foreign investor. The EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will soon be ratified by all EU Member States,” he said.
Tokayev, in turn, promised Tusk to maintain the Central Asian republic’s course towards “an exhaustive and constructive association with the EU.”
“We continue to work actively to deepen the strategic partnership with the main European countries. Kazakhstan’s ‘Road to Europe’ program and the EU’s strategy towards Central Asia are examples of our successful interaction in various fields,” he said.
During his visit to Kazakhstan, coinciding with the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression, Tusk visited the memorial to remember the victims of the former Soviet Alzhir camp.
“It is a powerful and symbolic reminder of the resistance of the human spirit to totalitarianism,” Tusk said shortly before beginning his trip to Uzbekistan.