By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The European Union’s investments in Central Asia have a positive role in helping the countries build their societies, diversify their economies, and improve regional cooperation.
The EU is a significant donor for Central Asia. Most of the funding is distributed to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Turkmenistan receives less funding, while Kazakhstan, which is considered to be a middle-income country, receives funding only through regional projects and global EU instruments. Uzbekistan’s support has grown significantly after the change of power took place in the country and plans for political and economic reforms began to be implemented.
EU will allocate 72 million euros for the implementation of various projects in the Central Asian countries. These funds will be allocated in addition to more than one billion euros provided by the EU in the framework of the strategy for 2014-2020.
The help of the EU to the Central Asian countries was discussed at the recent EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting. Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin noted the need to continue mutually beneficial cooperation of the regional countries with the EU in the framework of the new strategy in order to strengthen the economic, transit, transport and energy potential of the Central Asia countries.
Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, presented a number of regional programs funded by the EU. These programs will support the environment, climate action, sustainable consumption and production, energy, gender equality, counter-terrorism and education.
These programs worth 72 million euros will benefit all countries in the region such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. Tajikistan will receive 20 million euros, which will be invested in the construction of a new hydropower plant for the export of electricity to neighboring Afghanistan.
The EU is also investing two million euros in economic empowerment of women in the region. This project will be implemented jointly with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It will provide Afghan women with the skills they need to participate in the economic development of Afghanistan and will promote closer peaceful ties with Central Asia.
The EU also launched a new program worth 36 million euros to support the education sector in Kyrgyzstan. This financing agreement will support an education development strategy in Kyrgyzstan in order to better formulate, implement and control educational policies. This will help improve resource allocation, ensure equitable access based on gender, ethnicity and linguistic affiliation, as well as increase synergies between skills and labor market needs.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz