Dialogue between Central Asia and European Union (EU) countries has increased in recent years. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War, many actors have turned to new collaborations within the framework of changing balances and foreign policy orientations. Central Asian countries have also started to take their relations with Western states to an advanced level in parallel with their democratization and partnership development steps.
The EU-Central Asia Summit held on 1-2 June 2023 is also very important in this regard. At the summit hosted by Kyrgyzstan for the second time, the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Kasım Cömert Tokayev, the President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Sadir Japarov, the President of Tajikistan, Imamali Rahman, the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Şevket Mirziyoyev, the President of Turkmenistan, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, attended a meeting at Colpan Ata has come together. As it will be remembered, the first meeting of the summit was held in Kazakhstan in 2022.
The summit, in which EU-Central Asia relations are discussed in the context of international developments, is important in terms of strengthening the partnerships between the parties. At the same time, the summit is also important in supporting the reform efforts of the regional states in domestic politics.
However, it is seen that strong steps have been taken towards the institutionalization of relations. EU-Central Asia Connection Conference and EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting held in Samarkand on 18-19 November 2022, EU-Central Asia High Level Conference on Environment and Water Resources on 23-24 February 2023, Civil Society Forum on 10 March 2023 and The EU-Central Asia Economic Forum was held on 18-19 May 2023. All these indicate that mutual cooperation will be developed and ties will be strengthened through various platforms.
In addition to international meetings, bilateral meetings and visits gained momentum. While existing partnerships are strengthened both in these meetings and in multilateral conferences and meetings; Steps are also being taken for new collaborations. At the second EU-Central Asia Summit held in Kyrgyzstan, ties between EU countries and regional states were developed. For example, Kazakhstan and the EU have agreed to strengthen cooperation in critical raw materials. Marat Karabayev, Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development, and Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, also discussed possible EU financing instruments to support the implementation of the first roadmap of the memorandum of understanding and cooperation on critical raw materials. In addition, Karabayev stated that one of the joint projects initiated by the EU is the investment of the German company HMS Bergbau AG for the development of lithium deposits in Kazakhstan.
On the other hand, Kyrgyzstan is trying to increase its partnership with the EU in digitalization and satellite communication projects. In addition, the President of Kyrgyzstan, Mr. Caparov, stated that Central Asia has the potential to become a transportation and logistics center for goods between Asia and Europe. In this context, Mr. Caparov said: 
“The development of transport, logistics and infrastructure projects can become a growth engine for Central Asian economies and the region can become a hub between Europe and Asia that will benefit all parties.”
Bishkek administration, which aims to make Kyrgyzstan a transportation hub on the Central Asia-Europe line, is likely to direct new cooperation projects to this transportation and connection sector. Therefore, it can be foreseen that agreements regarding this will come to the agenda.
Uzbekistan, on the other hand, is focused on initiatives within the framework of digitalization. At the same time, critical developments can be foreseen in bilateral relations within the scope of cooperation developed with Western partners and supporting Mr. Mirziyoyev’s reform efforts. As a matter of fact, Mr. Mirziyoyev gave hints for the future with the following statement, which indicates that the ties with the EU will be strengthened:
“We held talks with the leaders of France, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic. We opened embassies in Budapest and Stockholm… I am planning to visit Italy.”
Mr. Mirziyoyev also emphasized that Central Asia is a center of attraction and an area of new economic opportunities for leading European companies and banks. In this context, the Uzbek leader stated that there is a broad investment and technological partnership aimed at “creating modern industrial capacities, promoting “green” energy, developing “smart” agriculture and establishing a comprehensive transportation and logistics infrastructure.
In addition, Mr. Mirziyoyev also called for combining efforts to develop transport and communication links between Central Asia and Europe through the creation of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Central Corridor. As it is known, the Middle Corridor has increased the international position and value of the countries in the region. Joint efforts for the development of the corridor will also positively affect the status of the states of the region.
The Dushanbe administration, on the other hand, expressed its desire for the EU to participate in the financing of the construction of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant. President of Tajikistan İmamali Rahman stated that it seems appropriate for European countries to provide investment support to Tajikistan in the field of hydroelectricity and expressed his hope that they will take part in the financing of the modernization of existing hydroelectric power plants as well as the completion of the Rogun Hydroelectric Power Plant.
At the regional level, it is known that negotiations are held to create a common ‘geo-economic area’ in Central Asia in order to help the integration of Central Asia into the global economy. In addition, the EU is the largest donor in Central Asia, with aid reaching $1.2 billion to the region between 2014 and 2020, showed that it will continue to develop economic partnerships. Considering the C+C5 platform between China and Central Asia; It can be argued that the EU will bring new initiatives to the agenda in its relations with Central Asia.
It can be said that there will be some developments within the scope of trade, economy, development and cooperation programs between Turkmenistan and the EU. It is likely that the energy cooperation between the parties will be strengthened with new steps after the summit. The EU focuses on bilateral cooperation projects, economic reforms, education, good governance, rule of law and sustainable energy in its relations with Ashgabat. Within the scope of the summit, it can be said that a common will for the development of existing ties has been revealed.
As a result, it can be interpreted that Central Asia, which has become the focus of global attention, is the most profitable party in the ties it establishes with both China and European partners. Relationships developed with EU countries to the countries of the region; support in structural reform processes in domestic politics; In foreign policy, it is seen that it will return as cooperation.
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