Madrid, Jul 6 (EFE).- Kazakhstan’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister met here Tuesday with King Felipe VI at the end of his official visit to Spain, a trip aimed at further consolidating the countries’ strong bilateral relations and continuing talks that had been put on hold due to the pandemic.
During his visit, Mukhtar Tileuberdi signed an agreement with his Spanish counterpart, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, in the area of science and technology, as well as three memoranda of understanding on agriculture, environmental protection and climate change and cooperation between the nations’ respective development agencies.
In an interview with Efe, Tileuberdi stressed the need to “relaunch trade and economic exchanges” that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
In 2020, trade between the two countries plunged 40 percent from 2019 to a total of $1.4 billion, the Kazakh government reported.
Tileuberdi said the agreements will give a boost to several of Kazakhstan’s industries, helping them gain access to “green technology” from European countries, especially Spain, and enabling Kazakhstan to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.
Security issues also were on the agenda, with a focus on the situation in Central Asia and specifically Afghanistan.
The final phase of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan began two months ago, and for Tileuberdi this means confronting challenges such as “drug trafficking, human trafficking and the flow of refugees,” as well as strengthening support for the Afghan government to promote the country’s “stabilization.”
During his trip to the Spanish capital, the politician met Tuesday with the president of the Spanish Senate, Pilar Llop, and took part Monday in a ministerial meeting of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament.
Tileuberdi reminded colleagues of the 16 participating countries that 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk site, the Soviet Union’s main nuclear test facility on Kazakh territory, and the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
At the meeting in Madrid, the signatory countries called for nuclear disarmament, demanded an end to nuclear weapons testing and expressed alarm at the setbacks in this area in recent years.
The Kazakh politician offered his support and remarked that Kazakhstan “plays a very important role in nuclear disarmament” due to its geographical location and its good relations with both the United States and Russia.
Regarding the concerns of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) about “a lack of genuine – political – competition” in the last parliamentary elections, Tileuberdi explained that relations with the OSCE were good and stressed President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s willingness to advance changes.
“The current president has introduced reforms to give more freedom to the media, NGOs, etc.,” he told EFE, adding that the National Council of Public Trust was an example of the will to listen to all citizens’ voices in parliament.
On the 30th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence, the foreign minister said “the old Soviet-style economy had been transformed into a real market economy as part of the constant process of democratization of society.”