BRUSSELS: Thank you, Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Mukhtar Tileuberdi], and thank you especially to President [of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart] Tokayev for receiving me here today in Astana, for my first visit to your country.
As you said, Minister, I am happy to be here when we are almost celebrating the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. The diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the European Union will reach 30 years next February.
Kazakhstan is an important and valuable partner [of the European Union], and it is increasingly so. We share an interest to develop our cooperation even further.
That is why I am very much grateful to President Tokayev and to you, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tileuberdi, for the wide-ranging discussions that we have had on how to face common challenges, from a common trust and a common respect. We want to tackle all these challenges and make our relationship closer and stronger.
We have been building economic relations for years. Today, the European Union is the biggest investor in the region: 60% of the stock of capital invested in Kazakhstan has come from the European Union. We are the biggest trading partner and as I said, by large, the biggest foreign investor in Kazakhstan: 60% of investment has been coming here [from the EU] and creating a big stock of capital.
You [rightly] mention, Minister, the Memorandum of Understanding on sustainable raw materials, batteries and renewable hydrogen value-chains, that was signed early this month. This will be a good way to expand our relationship.
But economics – trade and investment – is not the only area in which we want to continue increasing our relations. We remain committed in strengthening our diplomatic interactions and cooperation in the framework of this Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Maybe, next year in February, we could celebrate these 30 years of diplomatic relations by holding here in Kazakhstan – if this could be possible – the Council of this Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
We discussed Kazakhstan’s ambitious political reform process. The upcoming elections are an important opportunity for Kazakhstan to demonstrate a clear will to ensure the full implementation of this ambitious reform agenda. I underlined to the President and to you, Minister, the European Union’s support in this regard.
We also discussed the importance of a full, independent and transparent investigation into the tragic events of last January.
This is for me a very important visit. After this meeting, I will continue my journey to Uzbekistan to co-chair our annual European Union-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting this afternoon, and co-host the European Union-Central Asia Connectivity Conference [Global Gateway] tomorrow in Samarkand.
These two events are a clear demonstration of the mutual commitment between the European Union and Central Asia to strengthen cooperation on sustainable connectivity. This is a key region for global trade. This is the connecting point between Europe and Asia.
That is why we want to step up our cooperation in the context of our Global Gateway. This is the name we gave to a strategy which aims at boosting smart, clean and secure links in the digital, energy and transport sectors. There are a lot of opportunities in Kazakhstan to develop this strategy.
Certainly, we also raised the latest regional developments and in particular, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the situation in Afghanistan.
The President briefed me about the situation in Afghanistan, which one year ago was on the frontpages of all the newspapers in the world, and today seems to have been forgotten. No, we have not forgotten Afghanistan, nor the situation of women and girls in this country – which is an issue of an extraordinarily high concern. The consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine have a global negative impact and pose specific challenges to the whole world and also, for Kazakhstan and the European Union.
We agreed on the need to stand together in defending multilateralism and the values that we have signed in the United Nations’ Charter: territorial integrity, sovereignty and human rights.
I thank you, and I thank Kazakhstan, for its strong commitment in defending the United Nations’ Charter and in particular, the territorial integrity of all countries.
Together, we are committed to security, stability and peace in our regions.
Thank you, Minister.