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EU-Kazakhstan aim to co-operate on green projects

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The Kazakh government is looking to diversify its economy and develop new industries while also promoting environmental protection, writes Wilder Alejandro Sanchez.

EU-Kazakhstan Aim to Cooperate on Green Projects

The European Union praised Kazakhstan’s green agenda during a 10 May high-level meeting in Brussels, opening up possibilities for new cooperation opportunities in the near future in areas like environmental protection, achieving carbon neutrality, and combating climate change.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi traveled to the Belgian capital to participate in the 18th meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council, which included a meeting with Augusto Santos Silva, minister of state and foreign affairs of Portugal. The two sides celebrated the first anniversary of their Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), which entered into force on 1 March 2020, and discussed issues like regional security given the planned U.S. and NATO military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The EU noted that the next high-profile meeting will be a June 3 climate conference in Nur-Sultan. While an agenda has not been disclosed, a 10 May press release on the council meeting mentions: “The EU looks forward [to] joint work towards the COP26 on climate, especially in light of President Tokayev’s pledge for Kazakhstan to become climate neutral by 2060.” Achieving this objective will not be easy, hence “in this regard, we expressed our interest in finding new areas for cooperation under the Paris agreement and the European Green Deal,” explained Tileuberdi.

Tileuberdi also participated in an 8 May online meeting of the Berlin Eurasian Club. EU Commissioner of Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski tweeted that he would also participate to discuss EU-Kazakh relations on areas including “biodiversity loss, soil degradation, water pollution or increasing recurrence of droughts, floods, forest fires”. 

The Kazakh government is looking to diversify its economy and develop new industries while also promoting environmental protection. The recently released 'National development plan by 2025' strategy highlights these objectives, which include developing ecotourism to areas like the Kolsay Lakes, and increasing renewable energies.

It will be important to monitor what new initiatives, if any, are discussed in the June 3 EU-Kazakhstan conference. It is worth noting that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is already teaming up with Kazakhstan to support renewable industries. 

This past September the EBRD announced a new project for 76 MWp (megawatt peak) solar plant in Karaganda region. The project is valued at $42.6 million. “The investment takes place under the Bank’s €500m Kazakhstan Renewables Framework, established in 2016 and extended in 2019, to help the country respond to the challenges of climate change,” the bank explained. Another project, a 100 MW wind farm in Zhanatas, southern Kazakhstan, was announced in November. Similarly, the EU itself has agencies like the Regional Indicative Program (RIP) and the Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA), which help promote investment in renewable energy in the region.

One area where Brussels and Nur-Sultan can also co-operate is the Aral Sea. The Central Asian government has managed to salvage some of what is left of its side of the body of water, shared with Uzbekistan, which nowadays resembles a series of lakes. However, new initiatives and financing are always welcome. 

It is worth noting that the European Union is not the only global player that places environmental protection and combating climate change as key foreign policy objectives. The same can be said of the Biden administration in Washington. In fact, during an April 22 telephone call between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Tileuberdi, the U.S. official “encouraged the Government of Kazakhstan’s continued commitment to … mitigate greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price.

The upcoming June climate conference in Nur-Sultan and the COP26 meeting, to be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November, will be the next opportunity for the Kazakhstani government to demonstrate to the international community its commitment toward environmental protection. The aforementioned renewable energy projects funded by the EBRD will help Kazakhstan achieve its carbon neutrality objective by 2060, but more is needed as the world is in a race against time.

Belgium

Iranian Opposition rally in front of US embassy in Brussels to ask US and EU for a firm policy towards Iranian regime

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Following the G7 summit in London, Brussels hosts the NATO summit with US and EU leaders. It is the first trip of President Joe Biden outside the US. Meanwhile, the Iran deal negotiations have started in Vienna and despite the international efforts to return Iran and the US to compliance with the JCPOA, Iranians regime showed no interest to return to its commitments under JCPOA context. In the recent IAEA report, important concerns have been raised that the Iranian regime failed to address.

The Iranian diaspora, supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Belgium, held a rally today (14 June) in front of the US embassy in Belgium. They held posters and banners with the picture of Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian opposition movement who has declared a non-nuclear Iran in her 10-point plan for the free and democratic Iran.

In their posters and slogans, Iranians asked the US and the EU to work harder to hold the mullahs’ regime accountable for its human rights violations too. The protesters emphasized the need for a decisive policy by the US and the European countries to harness the mullahs’ quest for a nuclear bomb, stepped up repression at home, and terrorist activities abroad.

According to the new IAEA report, despite the previous agreement, the clerical regime refuses to answer IAEA questions on four disputed sites and (to kill time) has postponed further talks until after its presidential election. According to the report, the regime's enriched uranium reserves have reached 16 times the limit allowed in the nuclear deal. The production of 2.4 kg of 60% enriched uranium and about 62.8kg of 20% enriched uranium are of grave concern.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said: Despite agreed terms, “After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles…We are facing a country that has an advanced and ambitious nuclear program and is enriching Uranium very close to weapons-grade level.”

Grossi’s remarks, also reported by Reuters today, reiterated: “The lack of clarification of the agency’s questions regarding the accuracy and integrity of Iran’s Safeguard Declaration will seriously affect the agency’s ability to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Maryam Rajavi (pictured), the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said that the recent report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the remarks by its Director-General once again show that to guarantee its survival, the clerical regime has not abandoned its atomic bomb project. It also shows that to buy time, the regime has continued its policy of secrecy to mislead the international community. At the same time, the regime is blackmailing its foreign interlocutors into lifting sanctions and ignoring its missile programs, export of terrorism, and criminal meddling in the region.

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Brexit

Ex-EU Brexit negotiator Barnier: UK reputation at stake in Brexit row

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Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK, Michel Barnier attendsthe debate on EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement during the second day of a plenary session at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium April 27, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS

Michel Barnier, the European Union's former Brexit negotiator, said on Monday (14 June) that the reputation of the United Kingdom was at stake regarding tensions over Brexit.

EU politicians have accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of not respecting engagements made regarding Brexit. Growing tensions between Britain and the EU threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the UK. Read more

"The United Kingdom needs to pay attention to its reputation," Barnier told France Info radio. "I want Mr Johnson to respect his signature," he added.

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coronavirus

Parliament president calls for a European Search and Rescue Mission

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European Parliament President David Sassoli (pictured) has opened a high-level interparliamentary conference on managing migration and asylum in Europe. The conference focused particularly on the external aspects of migration. The president said: “We have chosen to discuss today the external dimension of migration and asylum policies because we know that only by tackling the instability, crises, poverty, human rights violations that occur beyond our borders, will we be able to address the root causes that push millions of people to leave. We need to manage this global phenomenon in a human way, to welcome the people that knock on our doors every day with dignity and respect.
 
“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on migration patterns locally and worldwide and has had a multiplier effect on the forced movement of people around the world, especially where access to treatment and healthcare is not guaranteed. The pandemic has disrupted migration pathways, blocked immigration, destroyed jobs and income, reduced remittances, and pushed millions of migrants and vulnerable populations into poverty.
 
“Migration and asylum are already an integral part of the external action of the European Union. But they must become part of a stronger and more cohesive foreign policy  in the future.
 
“I believe it is our duty first of all to save lives. It is no longer acceptable to leave this responsibility only to NGOs, which perform a substitute function in the Mediterranean. We must go back to thinking about joint action by the European Union in the Mediterranean that saves lives and tackles traffickers. We need a European search and rescue mechanism at sea, which uses the expertise of all actors involved, from Member States to civil society to European agencies.
 
“Second, we must ensure that people in need of protection can arrive in the European Union safely and without risking their lives. We need humanitarian channels to be defined together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We must work together on a European resettlement system based on common responsibility. We are talking about people who can also make an important contribution to the recovery of our societies affected by the pandemic and demographic decline, thanks to their work and their skills.
 
“We also need to put in place a European migration reception policy. Together we shoulddefine the criteria for a single entry and residence permit, assessing the needs of our labor markets at a national level. During the pandemic, entire economic sectors came to a halt due to the absence of immigrant workers. We need regulated immigration for the recovery of our societies and for the maintenance of our social protection systems.”

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