Business & Economy

EU stresses solidarity with Central Asia, aims to thwart Russian sanctions dodge

Astana, 19 May (EFE).- In a bid to stifle Russia’s attempts to sidestep Western sanctions, the European Union (EU) made an appeal on Friday to the five nations of Central Asia, stressing that it would back these countries to counterbalance the economic reverberations of Russia’s war in Ukraine, now in its 450th day.

“We aim to hamstring and ultimately halt Russia’s war efforts. The EU takes evading sanctions very seriously,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, the Executive Vice President of the European Commission (EC), at the II EU-Central Asia Economic Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Addressing top officials from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, Dombrovskis emphasized the EU’s reliance on its partners to prevent their territories and businesses from being misused.

Entities continuing to weaken efforts to cease the brutal and illegal war will be identified and dealt with, he pledged, promising robust support to all reliable partners in preventing sanctions evasion.

Dombrovskis acknowledged the domino effect of Russian aggression felt across Central Asian nations. A sentiment echoed by the Kyrgyz Prime Minister, Akylbek Japarov, who said the spill-over effects, though lessened, are still tangible in Central Asia.

“We see that the prospects for the development of Central Asia depend on external challenges and we have no illusions or unreasonable optimism,” he said.

“In collaboration with key global allies, including the US, we aim to mitigate these effects, striving to generate fresh opportunities for our Central Asian partners,” stressed Dombrovskis.

He added that the EU understands that each country sees this war through its own lens, but he reminded the Central Asian countries, close allies of Russia, that there is only one truth: “We must never forget who is the aggressor and who is the victim.”

The EU, being one of the most significant investors and trade partners in the region, he noted, has a clear potential for scaling up its involvement. He emphasized that EU member countries outstrip China and Russia, accounting for over 40% of foreign direct investment.

Teresa Czerwińska, the Vice President of the European Investment Bank, announced plans to amplify the bank’s presence in Central Asia, eyeing new projects and inaugurating regional offices.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development president, Odile Renaud-Basso, underscored Central Asia’s “prominent place on the bank’s agenda.”

The bank has invested over €16 billion in the region, with €1.4 billion poured in 2022 alone. “We are firmly committed to doing more,” she said.

Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister, Alikhan Smailov, underscored the qualitative growth of cooperation with the EU, citing the production of value-added goods, digitization, and bolstering transportation infrastructure in his country.

Backing the proposal for an EU-led investment fund for Central Asia was Tajik Prime Minister, Kokhir Rasulzoda. He said he believed this could spark the development of key regional projects, particularly in the transportation sector. EFE



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