February 16, 2018, Astana – The results of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union, as well as plans for the current year, were considered at the working meeting of Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov with the heads of diplomatic missions of the EU member states accredited in Kazakhstan.

The agenda of the meeting of the minister with the EU ambassadors covered a wide range of both bilateral and multilateral issues interaction.

In his remarks, the minister dwelled in detail on the results of EXPO2017, one of the main events last year, in which the EU countries took an active participation. He noted the main task for the upcoming period is to preserve and consolidate the legacy of the expo. In this context, the minister informed the European diplomats about the upcoming activities of the Astana International Financial Center, the “Future Energy“ International Center and the International Park of IT Startups.

Considering the potential for cooperation with foreign official and business circles, Minister Abdrakhmanov called on the European partners to cooperate with these new platforms.

The participants of the meeting discussed the results of Kazakhstan’s presidency in the UN Security Counciland its main events– a high-level thematic briefing chaired by President Nursultan Nazarbayev on the development of confidence-building measures in the field of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as ministerial debates on Afghanistan and Central Asia. The diplomats were of the opinion that the adoption of important documents – the statements by the President of the UN Security Council on the results of the abovementioned events contributed to the successful fulfillment by Kazakhstan of its mission in this authoritative structure.

Among other foreign policy achievements of the country during the past period were the ongoing negotiations on the settlement of the Syrian crisis within the Astana Process and the opening of the IAEA Bank of Low Enriched Uranium in August 2017.

In general, according to European diplomats, the events held in Kazakhstan and abroad were organized at a high level, and their results pose even more ambitious goals for the country.

As priorities for foreign policy in 2018, the Minister outlined the completion of the country’s membership in the UN Security Council, the organization of high-level meetings in Kazakhstan in various multilateral formats, including the summit of the Caspian littoral states, ensuring the participation of foreign partners in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Astana, and holding the 6th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

The meeting focused on the dynamic development of cooperation with the European Union. It was noted that the European Union remains the largest trade, economic and investment partner of Kazakhstan (the EU retains leadership among trade partners of Kazakhstan with a share of 49.8% in total; in 2017 trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the EU grew by $6 billion, exceeding $30 billion). Kazakhstan’s interest in diversifying trade with the EU and the need to find possible ways to expand non-oil exports from Kazakhstan to European countries was underscored.

One of the significant results of fruitful cooperation is the conclusion of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between Kazakhstan and the EUin 2015, the beginning of its partial application since May 2016, as well as the good pace of its ratification by the EU member states (21 of the 28 the EU member states) and consent by the European Parliament. Ratification of the Agreement by all EU countries is necessary for the full entry into forceof the EPCA, covering 29 spheres of cooperation.

In the light of the state-of-the-nation address by the President of Kazakhstan titled “New Opportunities for Development under the Fourth Industrial Revolution,“ the minister called on representatives of European countries to make more active use of existing opportunities in the most promising sectors such as modernization, digitalization, innovation technologies and business climate.

Another priority task in the development of cooperation with the European Union is the facilitation of the visa regime, which is actively discussed between Kazakhstan and the European Union, showing significant progress in resolving this issue.

During the discussion, European diplomats received answers to questions related to the implementation of an institutional reform in Kazakhstan aimed atensuring the rule of law and the improvement of legislation in various spheres of public life. The Foreign Minister drew the ambassadors‘ attention to the openness demonstrated by the Kazakh authorities to cooperation with international experts and non-governmental organizations specializing in legal issues. Particular importance is attached to constructive interaction and explanatory work on any cases of concern. This position of Kazakhstan finds understanding and support among the majority of foreign partners.

The participants welcomed the process of updating the EU Strategy for Central Asia, which is to be completed in 2019. Minister Abdrakhmanov stressed Kazakhstan’s readiness to actively join the process of updating the strategy in order to ensure its effectiveness, proceeding from the interests of all countries of the region. Among the priority areas, the Kazakh side noted the development of small and medium-sized businesses, transport and logistics infrastructure, energy efficiency, environmental protection, education and others.

On February 2, 2018, Kazakhstan and the European Union celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.