Kazakhstan and the European Union have this week commemorated the 31st Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. In this relatively brief period, by historical standards, the parties have significantly expanded their strategic partnership across political, trade and economic, investment, cultural, and humanitarian spheres. Additionally, they have deepened their interaction within the framework of the interregional dialogue "Central Asia - European Union."
Meetings between the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, during their joint participation in the II meeting of the leaders of Central Asian countries and the President of the European Council (June 2, 2023, Cholpon-Ata) and the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (November 30, 2023, Dubai), significantly strengthened the political dialogue between Astana and Brussels.
Following the first enlarged meeting of foreign ministers "Central Asia - European Union," which included the participation of Murat Nurtleu, the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an expanded CA-EU Roadmap aimed at deepening comprehensive interregional cooperation, comprising 79 points, was adopted on October 23, 2023, in Luxembourg.
At the II Central Asia – European Union Economic Forum in Almaty (May 18-19, 2023), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) presented a detailed report supporting infrastructure projects in Central Asia. The report emphasized the competitiveness and operational efficiency of the Central Trans-Caspian Network across South Kazakhstan, identified as the most sustainable transport network.
Against this backdrop, on January 15, 2024, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, visited Astana to promote bilateral and regional cooperation in the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR, "Middle corridor").
Representatives of over 25 Kazakhstani companies and industry organizations, led by the Minister of Transport of Kazakhstan, Marat Karabayev (January 29-30, 2024, Brussels), participated in the first Investment Forum on sustainable transport connection between Central Asia and Europe. During the forum, the European side declared its readiness to allocate 10 billion euros for the development of the transport industry in Central Asia. Simultaneously, the Kazakh side signed four memorandums with European partners, including the European Investment Bank, totaling 820 million euros.
One of the significant results of bilateral cooperation includes agreements reached between the Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Murat Nurtleu, and the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, to initiate consultations on simplifying the EU visa regime for citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The high dynamics of inter-parliamentary contacts, including mutual visits of deputies from the Mazhilis of the Parliament of Kazakhstan and the European Parliament, are being maintained. On January 17, 2024, the deputies of the European Parliament adopted the first report-resolution assessing the EU Strategy for Central Asia, providing a positive evaluation of the political reforms of the President of Kazakhstan and the prospects of Kazakhstan-European cooperation.
The investment and economic direction in Kazakhstan-EU relations has been significantly activated. The Kazakh delegation, headed by the Minister of Industry and Construction of Kazakhstan, Kanat Sharlapaev, participated for the first time in the annual event of the European Commission, "Raw Materials Week" (November 13-17, 2023, Brussels), as a "Strategic Partner of the EU in the Field of Critical Raw Materials." During the event, issues related to the implementation of the Roadmap for the Memorandum of Understanding between Kazakhstan and the EU on strategic partnership in the field of sustainable raw materials, batteries, and value chains of renewable hydrogen were discussed.
Cooperation in the field of agriculture and the agro-industrial complex has been developed with the aim of attracting European best practices and technologies to Kazakhstan, as well as opening the European market for Kazakhstani products. In May, a visit of European Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, accompanied by a business delegation of high-ranking representatives of the EU agri-food sector, is planned, along with the presence of the European Commission at the Inter-Food Astana exhibition.
Currently, the EU remains one of the leading trade, economic, and investment partners of Kazakhstan, accounting for about 30% of Kazakhstan's foreign trade turnover. The trade turnover as of January-November 2023 amounted to 37.7 billion US dollars, reflecting a 3.2% increase. In 2022, this indicator reached 40 billion US dollars, representing a 38% increase compared to 2021.
In this context, Kazakhstan intends to continue working closely with European partners to expand pragmatic cooperation with the EU, grounded in mutual interests and respect.
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