AKIPRESS.COM - The Cooperation Council between the European Union (EU) and the Republic of Tajikistan held its tenth meeting on 26 June in Luxembourg.
The Cooperation Council reviewed the state of play of bilateral relations, and addressed political and socio-economic developments, trade, investment and energy cooperation, as well as regional and international issues.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at the start of the negotiations for a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) and looked forward to continuing the discussions. This agreement represents an important step forward for EU-Tajikistan relations, expanding the cooperation between the two sides into new areas and broadening the scope of their interactions.
The participants reviewed their cooperation, including economic and trade relations, issues related to the security of energy supply, and connectivity both within Central Asia and between Central Asia and Europe. The two sides assessed progress in implementing the outcomes of both the EU-Central Asia Sustainable Connectivity Conference, and the EU-Central Asia Economic Forum.
The meeting also provided the opportunity to discuss issues of good governance, rule of law, human rights protection, and strengthening civil society. The EU encouraged Tajikistan to improve the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, emphasising the importance of freedom of expression, and raised the issue of prosecutions targeting certain bloggers and journalists.
Building on positive achievements, such as the upcoming criminalisation of domestic violence, addressing the most salient issues will be important for Tajikistan’s ambition to join the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+).
In this context, the EU called on Tajik authorities to intensify the reform processes, reiterated the importance of a stability-oriented macroeconomic policy and further progress in public finance management as ways to improve the business environment and attract foreign investment with the potential to bring innovative and green solutions. A successful GSP+ application would mobilise the potential to increase the trade flows between Tajikistan and the EU.
The EU confirmed its continued support to Tajikistan in its reform process while highlighting the need for their intensification, and in its endeavours to improve the socio-economic conditions of the population. The EU welcomed the ongoing reform efforts in the energy and water sectors, encouraging Tajikistan to tap its vast renewable energy potential for greening the Central Asia region’s energy mix. Achievements of bilateral development assistance provided to Tajikistan, particularly in the three key focal sectors of health, education and rural development, were also discussed.
During their discussions, the two sides also touched on matters of regional and international interest, including the situation in Afghanistan and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The EU encouraged Tajikistan’s engagement with Central Asia’s neighbouring countries and welcomed its constructive role for broader cooperation within the Central Asia region and beyond. Tajikistan’s important role in the United Nations with regards to water diplomacy and climate change was acknowledged.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan. The EU delegation was led by Mr Tobias Billström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, on behalf of Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.