Welcoming the participants, the Kazakh President noted it was symbolic that the meeting was taking place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Central Asian countries and the European Union.
“I would like to stress that the European Union was one of the first to recognize Central Asia as one cohesive region with deep historical and cultural affinities. Over 30 years our relations with the EU have developed significantly and have contributed to strengthening the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Central Asian states. Inter-regional dialogue has spread to almost all priority areas of cooperation, but the potential has not been exhausted. Today's summit is a vivid evidence of our aspiration to further expand constructive interaction in political, economic and humanitarian spheres,” the Head of State said.
In his speech, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted that Central Asia, being at the junction of the Asian and European continents, is a linking bridge between geopolitical centres and world markets. He is certain that the desire to develop a wide range of inter-regional interaction is a solid foundation for a comprehensive dialogue between the Central Asian countries and the European Union.
“The world around us is changing rapidly. Central Asia is feeling the threats posed by unprecedented geopolitical tensions. It is now crucial to build mutual trust and a spirit of cooperation in the heart of Eurasia. In these turbulent times, we, both in Central Asia and in Europe, need to build bridges, not walls,” said President.
Along with this, Head of State noted that Kazakhstan contributes to achieving a comprehensive settlement of the current situation in Afghanistan. To this end, diplomatic efforts are being made, and the country is provided with humanitarian aid.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called trade, economic and investment cooperation as one of the most important areas of cooperation. Today the EU is one of Kazakhstan's key economic and trade partners.
“Over the last 10 years, the EU has invested more than $120 billion in Central Asian states, representing in fact 40% of foreign direct investment in the region. About 70% of all these funds have gone to Kazakhstan. In last 8 months of this year, the trade volume between Kazakhstan and EU countries reached almost $30 billion, having increased by more than 40% as compared to the same period of the previous year. Today, about three thousand companies with the share of European capital are successfully operating in various sectors of Kazakhstan's economy,” the Head of State said.
President believes that trade between our countries should have a more balanced structure.
“Kazakhstan can offer more than 100 kinds of processed goods worth about $1.5 billion a year in sectors such as mechanical engineering, iron and steel production, food processing and agriculture. A promising field is food security. As you know, we export more than 5 million tons of wheat every year, including to EU countries. Last year, our food exports to Europe increased by 32 per cent to more than 630 million US dollars. That is why Kazakhstan could continue supplying agricultural products and mineral fertilizers to EU. A separate subject of cooperation is “green” energy. I believe we might be able to collaborate closely here. In general, I would like to express confidence that cooperation between Kazakhstan and European Union will go on," said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The meeting was also addressed by President Charles Michel of the European Council, President Sadyr Japarov of Kyrgyzstan, President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, and Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Khojamurat Geldymuradov of Turkmenistan.
Following the meeting, the Heads of State of Central Asian and the President of the European Council adopted Joint press communiqué.