BRUSSELS, November 23, 2018 – Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov held a meeting in Brussels with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, on the margins of the European Union-Central Asia conference.
During the meeting, the progress of ratification and implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU (EPCA) was discussed, as well as the outcomes of the 12th ASEM Summit and relevant issues of international and regional cooperation.
The European Union remains the largest trade, economic and investment partner and one of the priorities of Kazakhstan's foreign policy, Minister Abdrakhmanov noted. The EU accounts for approximately half of Kazakhstan's foreign trade and foreign investment. Kazakhstan ranks 32nd among the largest trade partners of the EU, while Kazakhstan's share in the trade turnover of the European Union with Central Asia is approximately 80%. In the past two years, trade between Kazakhstan and the EU has shown a steady growth of 20% on average, while the objective for the next years is to diversify trade and economic cooperation.
In this context, the sides have high hopes for the EPCA and intend to use the full potential of the new document.
The ratification of the strategic agreement that set the overriding priorities for further cooperation is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. Currently, 24 EU countries have already ratified the EPCA, the other four countries are considering the document.
As part of the EPCA, Astana is aiming at further rapprochement between Kazakhstan and the European Union. Easing visa restrictions for citizens of Kazakhstan, who visit the EU, is a priority in this matter, Minister Abdrakhmanov added. Relevant negotiations are scheduled to begin after the EU adopts a new Union Code on Visas.
EU High Representative Mogherini underscored the relevance of ongoing political and administrative reforms in Kazakhstan that provide a solid basis for further deepening of engagement between Kazakhstan and the EU. She also stressed Kazakhstan's important role in regional processes and the significance of initiatives that contribute to the deepening of regional dialogue.
The meeting also touched upon the outcomes of the 12th Summit of the Europe-Asia Forum (ASEM), where in September President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev shared a number of proposals for solving the most acute global problems. The head of state proposed to hold a special UN session or a meeting with the participation of the leaders of the United States, Russia, China and the European Union in Astana to discuss issues of international security.
The European diplomat believes that President Nazarbayev's proposals are very timely for the international community, urged to draw attention to the importance of their further implementation, and asked to share the concept of the meeting with her.
Moreover, the sides talked about the EU strategy on cooperation with Asian countries presented by the EU at the ASEM Summit. It was noted that Kazakhstan found the provisions of the document particularly relevant and was ready to participate in its practical implementation.
The diplomats commended the high level of trust between Kazakhstan and the EU and agreed to continue cooperation on updating the EU Strategy for Central Asia as part of the initiatives to promote the development of Afghanistan and the interests of Central Asia in the UN Security Council initiated by Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of this body.