Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/kazakhstan : Eu and Astana Open Talks on New Enhanced Pca

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/kazakhstan : Eu and Astana Open Talks on New Enhanced Pca

Article excerpt

The European Union has opened negotiations on a new enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) with Kazakhstan. The goal is to "advance our relations in all fields that we would deem necessary and useful," Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told a joint press conference with Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev, on 27 June in Brussels. He underlined that the current bilateral agreement that dates from 1999 does not any more "reflect the importance the EU and Kazakhstan attach to each other".

Kazakhstan is first among the five Central Asian countries participating in the four-year-old EU-Central Asia Strategy initiative (along with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) to embark on fully-fledged talks with the EU on a so-called next generation' PCA. Orynbayev said that Astana is fully determined to "strengthen its strategic partnership with the EU". "Now it's time to take further ahead our bilateral relations," he said, pledging to conduct negotiations with Brussels in an "efficient" manner.

ENERGY AND TRADE

Justifying the EU's decision to upgrade its relations with Astana, Sikorski said that Kazakhstan is not only "an important player for the EU in Central Asia but also beyond it". He highlighted Kazakhstan's "major role" as a supplier of energy for the EU (Kazakhstan is exporting mainly gas and oil but also nuclear fuel to the EU) as well as an important trade partner and investor.

In this context, the EU and Kazakhstan decided to strengthen their strategic energy dialogue, based on the memorandum of understanding of 2006 as well as to continue to remove barriers to trade. …

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