Kazakhstan continues “The path to Europe”

Dr. Walter Schwimmer, ehemaliger Generalsekretär des Europarats, Präsidiumsmitglied der Österreichisch-Kasachischen-Gesellschaft und Co-Chairman des WPF – Dialogue of Civilizations erörtert das erste vertiefte Partnerschafts- und Kooperationsabkommen (EPCA) der EU mit einem zentralasiatischen Land - mit Kasachstan. 


When Kazakhstan chaired in 2010 the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, it was the first Central Asian and the first post-Soviet country to do so. The title of the chairmanship program was “The Path to Europe”. With the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the European Union, signed on December 21, 2015,  by Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy by Erlan Idrissov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the young Republic became again a front runner. "Kazakhstan has become the first of our Central Asian partners to conclude a new generation agreement with the EU," said High Representative Frederica Mogherini.

The new agreement will certainly give a significant boost to economic and political ties between the EU and Kazakhstan and is aimed to enhancing legal basis for political and economic relations between the EU Kazakhstan, providing a broad framework for reinforced political dialogue, cooperation in home and justice affairs and in many other areas.

But in my view the agreement has a geopolitical dimension beyond the impact on the bilateral relations of both partners. The focus of enhanced cooperation in foreign and security policy will be in the areas of regional stability, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, conflict prevention and crisis management. Kazakhstan is recognized as a factor of stability in a region still place of conflicts and tensions. Both European Union and Kazakhstan have a strong interest in the stability and security of the region. The agreement is a proof that Kazakhstan is moving forward in the areas of democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and demonstrates that this can be achieved in a peaceful manner and can therefore serve a model of best practices for the neighborhood. Kazakhstan’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious society where fruitful dialogue, mutual understanding and mutual respect start at home is also a significant and important model how to prevent inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions and conflicts.

But what is most important is the fact that engagement in the Eurasian Union and enhanced cooperation with the European Union is possible at the same time, is compatible. With the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement Kazakhstan can become the bridge between two very important integration projects, the European Union and the Eurasian Union. Kazakhstan is in the position to bring the vision of joint humanitarian and economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific into reality.

Looking to the figures of the population of the big emerging nations and continents only European-Eurasian cooperation will make this space from the Atlantic to the Pacific able to compete with new economic giants like China, India, Brazil, and Africa from South Africa to Nigeria.

Confronted with old and new challenges, global terrorism hi-jacking religion, a still growing poverty gap between North and South, the not yet finished financial crisis because of mismanagement and financial oligarchy, the threats to environment and climate and not to forget migration flows that get out of control, our globe and in particular Eurasia needs more, not less cooperation and the implementation of best practices.

In that sense the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the European Union offers both partners, the European Union and the Republic of Kazakhstan a win-win-situation.

Walter Schwimmer
Former Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Co-Chairman of the World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations