Tuesday, 26 September, 2023

New EU-Central Asia summit set for Friday

New EU-Central Asia summit set for Friday

Popular News

BISHKEK: European Council President Charles Michel will visit Kyrgyzstan on Friday for another EU-Central Asia summit, authorities in the mountainous country said Monday, reports AFP.

It will be Michel's second visit to the region since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has made is ex-Soviet allies in Central Asia nervous and put Moscow's political dominance there under question.

The second summit gathering Central Asian leaders and the president of the European Council will take place on June 2 in the city of Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz presidency said.

The overarching focus is on the deepening of relations between Central Asia and the European Union, a spokesperson for Charles Michel told AFP.

The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan said they would attend. Their Uzbek, Tajik and Turkmen counterparts are yet to confirm.

The EU chief visited neighbouring Kazakhstan for a similar summit last October.

His trip to the region this time comes two weeks after an unprecedented summit between the five leaders and China.

Beijing has placed Central Asia at the heart of its Belt and Road initiative, a massive economic and infrastructure project.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan, as well as US diplomacy chief Antony Blinken also visited the region in recent months.

Russia still remains the main regional power, but China is reinforcing its presence in the region.

Turkey, the US and the EU are actively fostering ties in Central Asia, with India and Iran also advancing their foreign policy there.

Central Asian countries, energy-rich, are benefiting from the renewed interest to diversify partnerships, attract investment and have become a transit hub between Europe and Asia.

They have been criticised for helping Russia circumvent sanctions, which they deny.

The region remains unstable, with deadly clashes in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as suppressed uprisings in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Neighbouring Afghanistan, under control of the Taliban, is also a source of instability.