Press Releases Kazakhstan: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the joint press conference with Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi

Kazakhstan: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the joint press conference with Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi

Thank you, Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Mukhtar Tileuberdi], and thank you especially to President [of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart] Tokayev for receiving me here today in Astana, for my first visit to your country.

As you said, Minister, I am happy to be here when we are almost celebrating the 30th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. The diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the European Union will reach 30 years next February.

Kazakhstan is an important and valuable partner [of the European Union], and it is increasingly so. We share an interest to develop our cooperation even further.

That is why I am very much grateful to President Tokayev and to you, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tileuberdi, for the wide-ranging discussions that we have had on how to face common challenges, from a common trust and a common respect. We want to tackle all these challenges and make our relationship closer and stronger.

We have been building economic relations for years. Today, the European Union is the biggest investor in the region: 60% of the stock of capital invested in Kazakhstan has come from the European Union. We are the biggest trading partner and as I said, by large, the biggest foreign investor in Kazakhstan: 60% of investment has been coming here [from the EU] and creating a big stock of capital.

You [rightly] mention, Minister, the Memorandum of Understanding on sustainable raw materials, batteries and renewable hydrogen value-chains, that was signed early this month. This will be a good way to expand our relationship.

But economics – trade and investment – is not the only area in which we want to continue increasing our relations. We remain committed in strengthening our diplomatic interactions and cooperation in the framework of this Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Maybe, next year in February, we could celebrate these 30 years of diplomatic relations by holding here in Kazakhstan – if this could be possible – the Council of this Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

We discussed Kazakhstan’s ambitious political reform process. The upcoming elections are an important opportunity for Kazakhstan to demonstrate a clear will to ensure the full implementation of this ambitious reform agenda. I underlined to the President and to you, Minister, the European Union’s support in this regard.

We also discussed the importance of a full, independent and transparent investigation into the tragic events of last January.

This is for me a very important visit. After this meeting, I will continue my journey to Uzbekistan to co-chair our annual European Union-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting this afternoon, and co-host the European Union-Central Asia Connectivity Conference [Global Gateway] tomorrow in Samarkand.

These two events are a clear demonstration of the mutual commitment between the European Union and Central Asia to strengthen cooperation on sustainable connectivity. This is a key region for global trade. This is the connecting point between Europe and Asia.

That is why we want to step up our cooperation in the context of our Global Gateway. This is the name we gave to a strategy which aims at boosting smart, clean and secure links in the digital, energy and transport sectors. There are a lot of opportunities in Kazakhstan to develop this strategy.

Certainly, we also raised the latest regional developments and in particular, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the situation in Afghanistan.

The President briefed me about the situation in Afghanistan, which one year ago was on the frontpages of all the newspapers in the world, and today seems to have been forgotten. No, we have not forgotten Afghanistan, nor the situation of women and girls in this country – which is an issue of an extraordinarily high concern. The consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine have a global negative impact and pose specific challenges to the whole world and also, for Kazakhstan and the European Union.

We agreed on the need to stand together in defending multilateralism and the values that we have signed in the United Nations’ Charter: territorial integrity, sovereignty and human rights.

I thank you, and I thank Kazakhstan, for its strong commitment in defending the United Nations’ Charter and in particular, the territorial integrity of all countries.

Together, we are committed to security, stability and peace in our regions.

Thank you, Minister.


Q. Could you please talk about, in more details, the cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan in the Transport and Logistics area? What do you mean by those words? What is the EU ready to invest in the transport and logistic route? On the Global Gateway strategy, does it have anything in common with the trans-Caspian route or is that an alternative route?

The Global Gateway is a strategy to boost investment, putting together all the capacities of the European Union, its Member States, and financial institutions. The European Union holds the European Investment Bank, which is the biggest investment bank in the world, much bigger than the World Bank. And, if we put together all of our capacities, we believe that we could invest about €300 billion in a lot of investment projects, mainly on connectivity infrastructures. Certainly, the one that you have mentioned, the Caspian Route – in order to look for another way of linking Asia and Kazakhstan to Europe, without having to go through Russia by going through the Caspian and the Caucasus – could be, one of these projects. This is what we want to do together: to think at large, to look at the future, to look at the bottlenecks and to invest in a sustained manner in order to make the countries linked for a better common development. The Global Gateway – be sure – will make an important contribution to this project.

Q. Did you discuss with the Head of State the impact of anti-Russian sanctions to the economy of Kazakhstan? Are there any guarantees that these sanctions would not impact our economy?

The sanctions against Russia are specifically targeted to weaken the capacity of Putin’s Russia to finance the war. They are not addressed against anyone else. They are not addressed against agricultural products or fertilisers – which are free of sanctions. So, any narrative about the fact that our sanctions are preventing food and fertilisers flowing to the rest of the world, is completely false. Also, the consequences of the sanctions on third countries have to be carefully measured. It may be some market avoidances or over-compliances on the part of some economic actors – logistic actors. Yesterday, we had a very interesting and fruitful discussion to know in which specific cases sanctions could have created some specific problems. We will try to do our best in order to solve them. But they are not addressed to [affect] the economy of third countries, and if there is any collateral effect that could have damaged, we will work to address their impact.


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