I just got back from Astana, where we held the annual meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Central Asia’s five countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). I received a warm welcome, despite the temperature of 20 degrees below zero… The region is strategically crucial for Europe: this is true in security terms – we are affected by the dramatic phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and we share the concern for Afghanistan, that is still seeking peace and stability – but also for the economy and trade. This part of the world looks at China, at Russia and at Europe at the same time, it can be a connection along the silk road.
We agreed to reinforce our cooperation on security, energy, education, human rights, investments and on the environment – in particular on climate change and water security. The trip was also the opportunity to sign a partnership agreement with Kazakhstan: this will allow us to improve our coordination on 29 fields of shared interest.