Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) has become an active actor in Central Asia. It has expanded its diplomatic presence, established co-operation mechanisms and increased its development cooperation. However, so far, the EU’s impact in terms of improving the security situation or helping to build democratic societies that respect human rights has been limited. It is now time to put the EU’s political and development cooperation infrastructure to good use to deepen relations and start generating long-lasting impact in Central Asia.
In June 2017, the European Council agreed to renew the 2007 EU Strategy for Central Asia by the first half of 2019. As the European External Action Service (EEAS) drafts a new strategy, the Europe-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) initiative wishes to contribute by providing insights and recommendations. Rather than looking back and reviewing the current strategy and its implementation, EUCAM has looked ahead and hereby presents some ideas on what an ideal new strategy should look like in terms of content and format.
Regarding content, ideally, a new document would:
- Be a real strategy that outlines long-term interests and objectives, and is closely linked to operational EU planning.
- Take democracy and security co-operation as a basis for engagement.
In terms of format, a new document should consist of:
- A first part outlining political and security relations, where bilateral agreements and Human Rights Dialogues mix with multilateral aspects such as the High-Level Security Dialogues.
- A second bilateral part outlining two priorities for each country that will serve as the main areas of cooperation: modern society and inclusive education programmes.
- A third regional part outlining two new broad programmes that Central Asian countries could participate in different extents: renewable energy and connectivity.