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#Kazakhstan could be 'model' for Europe in fight against terrorism

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bayterekKazakhstan could become a “model” for Europe in its fight against terrorism and Islamic radicalization, a meeting was told.

The event, to mark the country’s 25th independence,was told that Kazakhstan has successfully integrated people from different ethnic backgrounds and religions.

According to the Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU), a Paris-based western defensive alliance, the EU and its member states could learn from its record in assimilating people from different cultures.

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The country was the last of the former Union’s countries to become independent in 1991 and, despite its relatively sparse population, is the ninth biggest country in the world.

Speaking in Brussels, WEU President Stef Goris said Kazakhstan’s people have managed to live in peace and harmony even though there are more than 130 different ethnicities, including Kazakhs, Russians and Tartars, in a country of 17 million inhabitants.

This was something the West, and especially the EU, could learn from Kazakhstan in the fight against Islamic terrorism, he argued.

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Goris, whose organization was the first European interparliamentary assembly for security and defence matters, said, “Kazakhstan is a large and diverse country. About 70 % of the people are Muslims and 30% Christians. I’m deeply impressed how they handle to live together.”

The West, he suggested, should “take a closer look” at the country’s “peaceful model”, adding, “Kazakhstan’s experience could be more than helpful for us.”

Kazakhstan’s engagement in the fight against terror was also highlighted by Toivo Klaar, head of the Central Asian Division  at the European External Action Service (EEAS), who said, “The country cooperates internationally to fight terrorism.”

In addition, Kazakhstan, he noted, also helps other countries like Afghanistan to become more stable and safe.

For example, Afghan students are allowed to visit Kazakh universities to get educated since the education system in Afghanistan has suffered due to war and other conflicts.

Kazakhstan’s foreign policies had also improved the country’s position on the global market, said the EU official.

Further comment came from Almaz Khamzaev, head of the Kazakhstan mission in the EU, who, speaking of the quarter century since the former Soviet state gained its independence, said, “We’ve not wasted the past 25 years. We have worked very hard. I think we’ve even become a new country.”

The ambassador added, “It was a cherished goal of our Kazakh ancestors to become independent. We have not only achieved this, we achieved even more.”

It was the only country in the region with a good labour market and the Kazakh government had taken on several measures to improve the country’s wellbeing.

“For example, a lot of money has been invested in infrastructure and urban construction.Astana has become the new, modern and prosperous capital.”

The city aims to showcase this to the world next year when Astana hosts the Expo 2017, he said.

All agreed Kazakhstan had opened up to the West.

“The EU has become the most important trade partner for Kazakhstan”, said Khamzaev.

Further comment came from Pier Borgoltz, an expert on Kazakhstan affairs, who said, “The EU’s relation with Kazakhstan has been very fruitful. Kazakhstan’s engagement, also in foreign policies, has been remarkable. This anniversary can be seen as an incredible step forward for such a young country.”

Several speakers also said that while the country had sent a “signal of trust” to the EU by not requiring visas for member states’ citizens this contrasted with people of Kazakhstan  who need one to visit the EU.

The debate on 3 May was moderated by Colin Stevens, publisher of EU Reporter.

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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