EU To Draw Up New Central Asia Strategy By Late 2019

LUXEMBOURG -- The European Union will draw up a proposal for a new Central Asia strategy by the end of 2019, according to conclusions endorsed by the bloc's foreign ministers during their meeting in Luxembourg on June 19.

The bloc's current Central Asia strategy, adopted in 2007, forms the political template between Brussels and Central Asia's five former Soviet republics � Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Although nothing concrete has yet been decided about the new strategy, the EU foreign affairs council conclusions on Central Asia outlines a few areas.

The text says that given the serious challenges to human rights, including gender issues, in the region, the Council reaffirms the crucial importance of continuing a meaningful dialogue with the Central Asian countries on good governance, the rule of law, and human rights.

It also highlights the importance of an independent media environment free from internal and external pressures.

According to the document, the EU also seeks a stronger involvement of Afghanistan in the region in order to contribute to stabilization efforts in Central Asia's neighbourhood.

On energy, the EU pledges to extend the Southern Gas Corridor, which currently is envisaged to bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.

The conclusions also state that Brussels will continue to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency in Central Asia by offering its expertise in the development of sound regulatory framework and by supporting investment cooperation with European financial institutions.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.