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Review of Recent Significant Political Events in Central Asia

The last week of May in Central Asia was full of large-scale national events. The region met delegations and representatives of various countries, the anniversary meeting of EAEU took place at Nur-Sultan, and bilateral fruitful meetings were held.

The analytic platform cabar.asia presents a brief review of the week’s most significant political events in the region.

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Visit of German president to Uzbekistan

On May 27, the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived with an official visit to Uzbekistan upon invitation of the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. A visit of German president to Uzbekistan can be called a logical continuation of the general meeting of Steinmeier and Mirziyoyev, which took place this January in Berlin.

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The key events in the framework of the official visit took place on May 28 at Kuksaroi residence. During the talks in a private and then broader formats, the issues of expanded cooperation in political, commercial and economic, investment, financial and technical, and cultural and humanitarian areas, as well as  interaction in the Uzbekistan- European Union format were discussed.

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A logical end of the talks between the national leaders was the ceremony of signing of bilateral documents. In particular, agreements on cooperation in ecology and climate, medicine, on sharing and protecting information, on commercial vehicle production jointly with Volkswagen were signed.

Also, traditional issues of countering terrorism and extremism, strengthening cooperation in security were covered.

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On May 29, Steinmeier visited Khoresm region, where he visited historical sights and has met with teaching staff and students of a local university.

 

EAEU Summit

On May 29, the meeting of the heads of states of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council was held in the capital of Kazakhstan. This summit at Nur-Sultan was dedicated to the celebration of two anniversaries – five-year anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union and 25-year anniversary of the idea proposed by Nursultan Nazarbayev on the Eurasian integration.

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 Photo: president.kg, akorda.kz

The meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council was held in two formats – in private format with the leaders of current EAEU member states and in a broader format with the president of Tajikistan as an honorary guest and president of Moldova as an observer state.

In general, the participants of the EAEU summit were president of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan Yelbassy Nursultan Nazarbayev, presidents of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbai Zheenbekov, the Russian Federation  Vladimir Putin, the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon, the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon, prime minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, chair of the EEC collegium Tigran Sarkisyan, and chair of the executive committee – executive secretary of CIS Sergei Lebedev.

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 Photo: president.kg, akorda.kz, president.tj

Interestingly, the summit introduced a new position of an honorary chair of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. This status was granted to Nursultan Nazarbayev for his particular contribution to the idea of Eurasian integration.

At the meeting, the national leaders summarised the performance of the EAEU in the last five years, shared opinions about the relevant issues of performance and future development of the organisation, and also discussed the milestones of macroeconomic policy of the union for 2019-2020. Everyone shared a common opinion that the EAEU has already established itself as an important and recognisable actor on the international stage.

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 Photo: president.kg, akorda.kz, president.tj

In addition to the general meeting, the heads of states held bilateral meetings with the head of the summit host country – president of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, and separately with the first president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. The latter awarded an order of the president to the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.

 

A visit of the European Council leader to Central Asia

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, arrived on a working visit in Central Asian states at the end of May. From May 29 to June 2, Tusk is visiting Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This tour symbolises the obligation of the European Union to strengthen partnership relations with these states and the region as the European Union is going to launch its new strategy “EU – Central Asia” soon.

During his visit to Central Asia, President Tusk is visiting three countries in the region to meet the president of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon, the president of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, the first president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and the president of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Why Tusk is not going to visit the remaining two regional countries – Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan – remains an open question. The working schedules of the leaders of these countries and of Tusk might not be matching.

On May 29, Donald Tusk arrived in Tajikistan on a working visit, and on May 30 Tusk and Rakhmon met at Dushanbe’s Palace of Nations. Official events were divided into two parts, as is peculiar to such high-ranking meeting. At first, Emomali Rakhmon and Donald Tusk had a personal meeting in a narrow format, and then the working visit continued with the participation of delegations in the presence of journalists.

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During the meeting, they discussed the current situation and prospective relations between Tajikistan and the European Union. They covered traditional areas of cooperation such as policy, economy, humanitarian and social issues. Security issues were also discussed – countering the threats of terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.

Upon the completion of the official part of the visit, Donald Tusk visited Sarez Lake in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan to see the condition of Pamir glaciers. One of the priority directions of the European Union’s international policy is a problem of global warming.

It is particularly remarkable that almost two hours before the arrival of Tusk, all social media and messengers, as well as all Google services had been unblocked in Tajikistan.

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 Photo: Facebook account of Donald Tusk

According to the working schedule, Donald Tusk is then visiting Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on a working visit.

 

A visit of the head of the government of the Russian Federation to Uzbekistan

On May 29, the delegation headed by the chair of the government of Russia Dmitry Medvedev arrived on a working visit in Uzbekistan. Medvedev arrived to take part in the meeting of the Russian-Uzbek joint venture at the level of heads of governments.

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At first, the head of the Russian government was met by the president of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Tashkent. During the talks, the parties emphasised their joint implementation of arrangements reached during the state visit of the Russian president to Uzbekistan in October 2018 contributed to the expansion of the Uzbek-Russian multilateral cooperation. Both parties noted the growing turnover of commodities between the countries, efficient functioning of the “green channel” for the farm products between Uzbekistan and Russia, the simplified customs regime introduced for textile goods exported to the markets of Russia.

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On the same day, Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the town of Urgench in the west of Uzbekistan, near Turkmenistan. The town held the first meeting of the Russian-Uzbek joint commission at the level of the heads of governments.  The Uzbek party was represented by Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov and the cabinet of ministers. Dynamic relations between the countries were emphasised during the meeting. Dmitry Medvedev noted that Uzbekistan was among key trade partners of Russia and coordination mechanisms at the prime minister’s level prove the special nature of relations between the countries. Documents relating to interaction in commercial and economic, industrial, energy, investment, transportation, agricultural, high-tech areas, in culture and education were signed during the meeting.

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Following the official part of the meeting, the head of the Russian government together with the Uzbek counterpart visited the ancient sights of the town of Khiva.

 

Summit of CIS Heads of Government

Major interstate events have not bypassed Turkmenistan. On May 31, a regular meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Independent States began in Ashgabat.

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The summit was attended by the Prime Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan, the Permanent Representative of Moldova to the CIS.

At a meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Independent States, documents on topical issues of cooperation among the CIS countries such as development of innovations, protection of rights to intellectual property, customs control were discussed and signed

President of Turkmenistan has held bilateral meetings with all prime ministers and country representatives.

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The Turkmen leader singled out special attention for the Russian Prime Minister. In the morning, before the start of the summit, Berdymukhamedov has arrived at the wheel of the rare Volga of emerald color to Medvedev’s residence and took the Prime Minister to the presidential palace.
The President of Turkmenistan has presented Medvedev with a Central Asian Shepherd puppy.


This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.