The EU woos Central Asian states
The head of European diplomacy Borrell met with regional leaders in Samarkand. The area is increasingly central to EU policy. Talks on infrastructure, energy, water resources, immigration and the fight against disinformation. Concern over situation in Afghanistan. Criticism of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The foreign ministers of Central Asian countries met with representatives of the European Union in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, a few days ago to discuss mutual relations between the two great regions of the world on the political, economic, financial, energy, ecological and socio-cultural levels.
On the European side, the delegation was led by the head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, who stated at the end of the meeting that the role of Central Asia has become increasingly significant in the global political and economic framework.
According to Borrell, 'even a few years ago, when talking about Central Asia, it seemed to us that it was nowhere to be found, but today it is everywhere', becoming one of the most 'respectable' regions in the world, 'halfway between Europe and Asia'.
It is increasingly important to strengthen the infrastructure network in the countries of this area, which are now indispensable for relations between the two continents: 'This was already true yesterday, and it is even more so today, in light of Russia's war against Ukraine,' Borrell said.
The foreign ministers of Europe and Central Asia had already met a year ago in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, before the war, and the world scenario has changed radically since then: 'Unfortunately not in the best direction,' Borrell noted, as everyone is affected by Russian aggression.
Hence, it is even more important today to 'preserve collaborative ties, develop trade, engage together on climate change, control illegal drug trafficking and organised crime around the world'.
Russia's war has broken all the rules of the world order, making the whole world much more dangerous, and the only way to deal with this challenge is through active collaboration, not formal appeals. Borrell also addressed the very sensitive issue of the situation in Afghanistan, which 'no longer makes the front pages of the newspapers, but is still an unresolved problem'.
The Taliban's refusal to pursue an inclusive political process and guarantee the fundamental rights of women, girls and ethnic minorities continues to cast a sinister light on the entire region. 'Along with this,' added the EU envoy, 'terrorism and organised crime, whose influence you suffer in your own countries, is growing,' not to mention the uninterrupted flow of Afghan refugees into neighbouring countries.
The Spanish politician recalled that the EU has paid out more than EUR 400 million to the Afghan people over the past four years: 'We have spoken explicitly about all these problems, including the post-pandemic restoration and the climate situation, and this encourages us to develop our relations more and more. The EU is committed to doing all it can to assist border security in Central Asia, as part of the long-term programme of European cooperation in border administration."
The Europeans are also ready to support the countries in the region in the fight against disinformation, which often causes instability at the local level. Borrell announced a new coordination conference between the EU and Central Asia, where a series of concrete projects in the fields of water, energy, digitalisation and transport will be proposed.
At the end of his speech, the EU foreign minister welcomed the extension of the Black Sea Grain Agreement for the safe export of grain from Ukraine, which was also mentioned by Turkish President Erdogan, speaking of an extension of the agreement for another 120 days.
"Food must never be used as a weapon in war,' Borrell concluded, 'thanks to the UN and Turkey for their cooperation in this initiative."