Kazakhstan makes ‘quantum leap’ in its EU relations

Aug 02. The Parliament

By Martin Banks

Kazakhstan makes 'quantum leap' in its EU relationsKazakhstan’s ambassador to Brussels says his country has made a “quantum leap” in its relations with the EU.

Speaking in Brussels, Yerik Utembayev also called for more efforts to promote “better understanding on both sides and increase European engagement in the region”.

Utembayev confirmed Kazakhstan’s aspirations for a new agreement to replace the current legal framework and strengthen bilateral relations.

He said, “We expect the new agreement will better reflect the depth of our relationship, and will provide further opportunities to deepen our relationship.”

He said there was potential for stronger cooperation in a number of fields, including “trade and investment, energy security, dialogue for democratic progress and full respect of human rights”.

The official was speaking at a reception to mark the launch of the ‘European Friends of Kazakhstan’.

The launch coincides with the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence and a new partnership agreement that will be soon renegotiated between Brussels and Kazakhstan.

He said, “I am proud to state that lately the relationship between the republic of Kazakhstan and the EU has reached the level of high intensity and maturity.

“The EU is the top trade and investment partner of Kazakhstan and the interaction between us is expanding in all the spheres.”

He said the official visit of the Kazakhstan president to Brussels in October last year gave a fresh impetus to the expansion of overall EU-Kazakh relations.

He said, “High level talks opened new horizons of our comprehensive cooperation.”

He said that last year Kazakhstan “ably” conducted its chairmanship in the organisation for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that culminated with the OSCE’s Astana summit.

“Kazakhstan’s OSCE success was possible, to a considerable degree, due to full-fledged cooperation and assistance on the part of the EU.

“The Astana summit, where most of the heads of EU states and governments were present, once again demonstrated our commitment to cherished common values and objectives.”

He said that bilateral cooperation and interaction were advancing “very fast”, pointing to the decision in May to authorise the commission to start negotiations with Kazakhstan on an enhanced partnership cooperation agreement.

He continued, “Now the two parties are about to start discussions on this document that is to take further ahead Kazakh-EU bilateral interaction.

“For there are many unexplored areas of cooperation and spheres of unrealised potential, therefore there is a need to set up a mechanism that can advance and promote the agenda of mutual relations.”

He said that MEPs “who know Kazakhstan and who are already contributing to strengthening of Kazakhstan’s ties with Europe” had expressed support for the idea of setting up a European club of friends of Kazakhstan.

The club’s launch takes place in the year when Kazakhstan marks the 20th anniversary of its independence.

“The overall goal will be promotion of the agenda of mutual relations, strengthening humanitarian and cultural links between our peoples as well as raising awareness among the peoples about our countries and regions.”

“The club will be gathering regularly in order to consider important bilateral issues and adopt relevant recommendations.”