The High Representative exchanged views with the five Foreign Ministers on a range of regional and international issues, including the implementation of the EU’s Central Asia Strategy, repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, and regional cooperation in Central Asia including with Afghanistan.
The High Representative conveyed a message of strong support from the EU to Central Asia to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The EU has mobilised €123 million for Central Asia to assist the region in its immediate health-related needs, as well as the longer-term socio-economic recovery. The European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have also mobilised a significant package of Coronavirus-related loans for the region.
Josep Borrell congratulated the Foreign Ministers on their efforts to maintain a high level of regional cooperation throughout the crisis, including by facilitating cross-border transport and transit within the region, as well as intensified cooperation with Afghanistan in this context. The High Representative/Vice-President underlined that multilateral cooperation and global solidarity are the only way to deal with the pandemic effectively, as is also the case for other global challenges.
Josep Borrell reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to intensify its cooperation with the region on the basis of the EU’s Central Asia Strategy, which was adopted one year ago. He stressed in particular the need for a “green” post-coronavirus recovery. He also confirmed the EU’s wish to step up cooperation with the region in the promotion of sustainable Euro-Asian connectivity, border management, human rights and civil liberties, and in cooperation on security, counter-terrorism and the fight against extremism, as well as the management of water resources, climate change and the environment. The Central Asian Ministers expressed strong appreciation for the EU’s engagement in the region.
The High Representative/Vice-President and Central Asian Foreign Ministers looked forward to taking inter-regional cooperation further at the next round of the EU-Central Asia High-level Political and Security Dialogue and at the 16th EU-Central Asia Ministerial, due to take place before the end of 2020, in Brussels.