The first meeting of the leaders of Central Asian countries and Germany in Berlin ended with the signing of a joint statement.
Germany expressed its readiness to expand economic and political cooperation with the Central Asian region, traditionally under the influence of the Kremlin, and in return, it secured a commitment from the five Central Asian countries to follow the sanctions regime against Russia and not allow it to be circumvented. These are the unprecedented results of the Central Asia-Germany summit, which took place in Berlin.
This document was signed on Friday evening by German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz and the presidents of Kazakhstan – Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan – Sadyr Japarov, Tajikistan – Emomali Rahmon, Uzbekistan – Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the head of the parliament of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
New agreements on further close cooperation between Germany and Central Asia were reached against the backdrop of how on September 29, dozens of opponents of the authoritarian regimes of Central Asia gathered with a protest rally near the building of the Federal Chancellor of Germany in Berlin. They shouted slogans against the Central Asian presidents, demanded the release of political prisoners and respect for human rights and freedoms. Some protesters considered the willingness of a developed European country to cooperate with these authoritarian regimes unacceptable.
A six-page joint statement signed by the leaders of Central Asia and Germany in Berlin emphasized “the importance of further cooperation to strengthen the rule of law, democracy, good governance, gender equality, universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, as set out in the framework of the EU Strategy for Central Asia 2019.” .
Central Asia and anti-Russian sanctions
The text of the joint statement, without specifically mentioning Russia and that country’s military incursion into Ukraine, states: “The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together for peace, security, democracy, the rule of law and sustainable development, with full respect for international law… The leaders expressed its unwavering commitment to upholding the UN Charter, in particular the principles of respect for the independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, the non-use of force or the threat of its use and the peaceful settlement of international disputes.”
The German Chancellor briefed his Central Asian counterparts on ongoing and initiated reforms in Germany aimed at adapting to new geopolitical realities, with a particular focus on the areas of defence, energy security and migration.
Russia has not yet responded to the Berlin summit, but earlier the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of this country, commenting on the topic of sanctions raised at a meeting of the political leadership of Germany with the President of Kazakhstan, expressed hope for further cooperation with Astana without “negative external influence.”
Labor migration and the “middle corridor”
It was stated that in the field of migration, Germany will create more employment opportunities for citizens of Central Asian countries. Chancellor Olaf Scholz noted that Germany will facilitate these procedures thanks to the upcoming reform of the law on immigration of qualified specialists.
At the meeting of leaders, it was also emphasized about strengthening cooperation between the region and Germany in the development of green energy, private entrepreneurship, strengthening trade ties between Asia and Europe through the “middle corridor” (Trans-Caspian international transport route), which is an alternative to the northern route through Russia and Belarus and the southern route through Iran. The leaders emphasized their goal to strengthen energy security and develop alternative energy supply routes, improve transport and transit connections.
Another issue on which an agreement was reached between the leaders of Central Asia and Germany is the intensification of interaction between think tanks and civil society organizations, cooperation in the field of culture and education. In particular, German language teaching will continue in educational institutions in the region, for example through the programs of the Goethe Institute, the Goethe German Language Centers and more than 50 PASCH schools (Schools: Partners for the Future). In total, more than 500 thousand schoolchildren in the region study German.