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The European Union and Turkmenistan held their eighteenth meeting of the Joint Committee on 26 February 2019 in Brussels. The Joint Committee reviewed the progress made in the last year between the EU and Turkmenistan, in particular in terms of trade, economic development, bilateral cooperation, political developments and human rights, and reaffirmed the commitment of both parties to strengthen cooperation in a number of areas.
The EU and Turkmenistan discussed the macroeconomic situation, bilateral trade and the ongoing reforms in Turkmenistan. Current political and key governance issues in Turkmenistan were reviewed, including the recently adopted programme for socio-economic development 2019-2025, the activities of the Ombudsman office and the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan. The EU informed Turkmen partners about the preparations for the new EU Strategy on Central Asia, to be adopted soon. The EU thanked Turkmenistan for hosting in July 2018 in Ashgabat the annual EU-Central Asia High-Level Political and Security Dialogue.
The meeting assessed the progress of ongoing EU development cooperation projects, with both the EU and Turkmenistan providing updates on their implementation. The EU also provided information on the upcoming set of regional programmes worth over €88 million, adopted in November 2018, that will support the private sector, trade and investment in the region, as well as help protect the environment, tackle climate change and promote the rule of law. In addition to this, the extension of the EU SWITCH-Asia programme to Central Asia in order to promote sustainable production and consumption in the region was also mentioned.
Turkmenistan provided an update on domestic energy developments including the progress of the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and energy efficiency issues. The EU informed Turkmenistan about a conference on renewable energy in Central Asia scheduled for 12 April 2019 in Brussels. They assessed the potential for Turkmen gas deliveries to the EU. Updates were also provided on connectivity and transport matters. Water, environmental and climate change issues were discussed as well, in particular in relation to the Aral Sea.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Luc Devigne, Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and OSCE countries of the European External Action Service, as the head of the EU delegation. The delegation of Turkmenistan was led by Mr Batyr Bazarov, Minister of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan.