The paper describes the relations between the EU and selected EU member states on the one hand, and Central Asia on the other hand. In particular, it examines the priority given to Central Asia, the interests of the EU and the selected EU member states in the region, and trends of the development of these interregional relations.
The paper describes the complexity of the EU‘s Central Asia policy with regard to involved actors, priorities and instruments, which creates a considerable need for coordination within the EU. It uncovers the variations in terms of strategic priorities of and interests in cooperation between the partners in both regions.
On a EU level, the core issue of political and security relations is the ongoing update of the EU Strategy towards Central Asia against the backdrop of varying value attached to cooperation with the EU by the Central Asian states. Cooperation is based on regular political dialogues and includes topics as the promotion of good governance and human rights, the fight against terrorism and organized crime, and border management.
On the level of EU member states, relations and interest vary tremendously, while all examined EU member states were engaged in the region bilaterally. Kazakhstan turns out to be the most important cooperation partner for the EU member states covered in this paper.
Voices from Central Asia on the importance of the EU
“Uzbekistan attaches great importance to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with the EU and European states. At the same time, special attention will be paid to the promotion of a higher level of bilateral relations with the leading states of Europe, in particular Germany, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Latvia and other countries.”
Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan
“In view of promoting development of the major areas of the national economy, Tajikistan acknowledges the European Union as one of its most important economic part-ners and will continue to seek expansion and deepening of the long-term sustainable cooperation with this influential interstate association on the basis of the principle of shared benefit. This interac-tion in general will embrace all European institutions, including the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Investment Bank and other organizations and agencies.”
Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Republic of Tajikistan, 2015
“Kazakhstan will continue efforts to develop full-scale relations with the European Union – the largest economic, trade and investment partner of Kazakhstan.”
Foreign Policy Concept of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2014-2020
EU Strategy for Central Asia
"The EU and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership", also called EU Strategy for Central Asia, was adopted by the European Union in 2007. The Strategy's main goal is building resilience in the region to ensure stability and peace. As part of the Strategy following key areas of cooperation of the EU and Central Asia were identified:
- Human rights, rule of law, good governance and democratization
- Youth and education
- Economic development, trade and investment
- Energy and transport
- Water and environmental sustainability
- Combating common threats and challenges
- Intercultural dialogue
In 2017, ten years after the adoption of the EU Strategy for Central Asia, the European Council reaffirmed its committment to the continuance and deepening of the relationship with Central Asia. In order to keep the Strategy up to date and streamlined with the EU's Global Strategy and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the European Union is currently working on a renewed EU Strategy towards the Central Asian region, which is supposed to be adopted in 2019.