Astana, 21/12/2015
151221_04_en
REMARKS

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini following the signature of the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement

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Thank you very much Prime Minister (Massimov), Minister (Idrissov). Thank you first of all for having invited me and hosted me today in Astana for two things that to me are extremely important.

One is the very intense and fruitful day of meetings we have had with all our friends and colleagues from the other Central Asian republics to work concretely on our joint regional cooperation.

The other is the opportunity to strengthen our political – and not only political - bilateral relations, the opportunity to meet with you Prime Minister, to exchange at length with you on all the challenges but also opportunities we have in front of us when it comes to the European Union-Kazakhstan relationship and the important signature we just had.

There are three signs that I see as indicating that what we have just signed is something very important.

The first one is the presence in the room of many, if not all the European Union Ambassadors here in Astana. I think that signifies the strength of the European Union's commitment not only to the signature, but also to the follow-up of the agreement.

The second sign is that I see both negotiating teams happy and smiling not only because they are probably relieved by the fact that they do not need to negotiate any longer a very complex agreement, but also this signifies I think the fact that we reached a very important agreement and positive agreement on both sides, which is the basis for having a good implementation and a sustainable future for the agreement itself.

I would like to join you in thanking both negotiating teams for the excellent and the hard work they did in these years.

The third element that makes me think that what we have done is really very important for all of us is the scope of the agreement that, as you mentioned, covers a variety of issues: very diverse among each other, all very important for our people - for the everyday life of our people, both in the European Union and here in Kazakhstan. And the fact that Kazakhstan is the first of our Central Asian partners having this new generation agreement with the European Union, so is somehow leading the way for possible developments in the future in the region.

As you remembered, both our political and our economic ties are already very important, very strong, especially the European Union being the first investor in the country, but I am convinced that, and I think we are all convinced, that this Agreement represents a significant boost to our economic and political ties, in this way also preparing the ground for something more relevant for the whole region.

For sure, the Agreement will serve to promote mutual trade and investments but it also puts a strong emphasis on democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and sustainable development as well as civil society cooperation. I am convinced that it will provide us with good instruments to improve our relations on all the different issues that it covers.

Let me conclude by expressing our support for the reform agenda that you have initiated both with the five institutional reforms and the one-hundred concrete steps, and also with my congratulations in the name of all the European Union for your WTO membership that has just translated into the participation of your representative to the important and successful negotiations in Nairobi together with a lot of colleagues including the European Union Commissioner Malmström just a few days ago.

Let me conclude by thanking you, Prime Minister, Minister, for again the warm hospitality, regardless of the temperature outside, and wish us all a very good way ahead on the implementation of the agreement we just signed, because this is not the end of the process this is just the beginning of it.

Thank you very much.