Live video debate on EU-Kazakhstan Relations

On the 28th of June, Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, ENC Managing Director, participated in EURACTIV’s live studio debate on EU-Kazakhstan Relations with Boris Iarochevitch, Head of Division for Central Asia at the European External Action Service, and Sayaset Nurbek, Head of education products at BTS Digital. The live debate dealt with the recent elections in Kazakhstan, the 2019 EU-Central Asia Strategy, as well as the European Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), which was signed between Brussels and Astana in 2015.

Concerning the Presidential elections, Mr. Doveri Vesterbye noted that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Kazakhstan is a full member, produced a monitoring report, which had shown some progress, despite irregularities in fundamental rights. He mentioned how important economic development is for the future of the country, focusing especially on economic development and the diversification of Kazakhstan in order to be able to develop better relations with other countries, including a more efficient governance system, democratization, and an increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The economic perspective in this sense is very important to consider because Kazakhstan’s energy diversification and economic complexity development with the EU as a key partner is likely to guide its levels of good governance and societal change in the years to come.

The EPCA was agreed in 2015 between the EU and Kazakhstan. Its progress in terms of lifting Kazakhstan standards and harmonising regulation has been very effective, positive and continues today. Mr. Doveri Vesterbye also focused on harmonization of legislation and renewable energy, both crucial areas for any country that wishes to increase its trade impact globally and diversify its energy sources. He equally noted that the importance of Kazakhstan carefully cooperating with the EU to harmonize its legislation (laws etc.) remains key for two reasons:

1. It’s extremely important for example in sectors like renewables for Kazakhstan to renew and modernise its laws to EU standards in order to become a first-class world economic player in general and specificaly for renewables, sustainability, circular economy and other ‘future economic trends’ in the same way as it is important for countries to work towards WTO+ standards. There are curently multiple sub-committees between the EU and Kazakhstan that meet regularly and work on these areas (e.g. trade and energy).

2. Its important to remember that Turkey, especially between 2000 and 2013, greatly modernised its economy and briefly overcame the ‘Middle Income Trap’ (4.316,55 USD in 2000 to 12.542,72 USD in 2013) by largely focusing on modernising its own legal and regulatory system to EU standards.

Boris Iarochevitch offered concluding remarks about next steps in building EU-Central Asia interconnectivity and the importance of achieving success from a five year projection.

The full video debate is available here.