ASTANA (TCA) — The results of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union, as well as plans for the current year, were considered at the working meeting of Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov with the heads of diplomatic missions of the EU member states accredited in Kazakhstan, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry reported.
The agenda of the February 16 meeting of the minister with the EU ambassadors covered both bilateral and multilateral interaction issues.
In his remarks, the foreign minister dwelled in detail on the results of EXPO 2017, one of the main events last year, in which the EU countries took an active participation. He noted the main task for the upcoming period is to preserve and consolidate the legacy of the expo. In this context, the minister informed the European diplomats about the upcoming activities of the Astana International Financial Center, the “Future Energy” International Center and the International Park of IT Startups.
Minister Abdrakhmanov called on the European partners to cooperate with these new platforms.
As priorities for foreign policy in 2018, the Minister outlined the completion of Kazakhstan’s membership in the UN Security Council, the organization of high-level meetings in Kazakhstan in various multilateral formats, including the summit of the Caspian littoral states, ensuring the participation of foreign partners in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Astana, and holding the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
The meeting focused on the dynamic development of cooperation with the European Union. It was noted that the European Union remains the largest trade, economic and investment partner of Kazakhstan (the EU retains leadership among trade partners of Kazakhstan with a share of 49.8% in total; in 2017 trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the EU grew by $6 billion, exceeding $30 billion). Kazakhstan’s interest in diversifying trade with the EU and the need to find possible ways to expand non-oil exports from Kazakhstan to European countries was underscored.
The Minister called on representatives of European countries to make more active use of existing opportunities in the most promising sectors in Kazakhstan such as modernization, digitalization, innovation technologies and business climate.
Another priority task in the development of cooperation with the European Union is the facilitation of the visa regime, which is actively discussed between Kazakhstan and the European Union, showing significant progress in resolving this issue.
The meeting participants welcomed the process of updating the EU Strategy for Central Asia, which is to be completed in 2019. Minister Abdrakhmanov stressed Kazakhstan’s readiness to actively join the process of updating the strategy in order to ensure its effectiveness, proceeding from the interests of all countries of the region. Among the priority areas, the Kazakh side noted the development of small and medium-sized businesses, transport and logistics infrastructure, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and education.