April 15, 2019 Melescanu says Central Asia has undergone extraordinary changes, new opportunities open up
Apr 15, 2019 Melescanu says Central Asia has undergone extraordinary changes, new opportunities open up.
Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu said on Monday, in the beginning of a high-level conference to mark the adoption of the new EU Strategy for Central Asia - Connectivity for sustainable development, that the countries in that region have undergone important changes and new opportunities are opening up for them. "In the light of the new EU Central Asia strategy to be launched soon, this is an excellent opportunity to hold a discussion today. The priorities set out in the EU’s strategy regarding connectivity between EU and Asia of October 2018 give us a solid platform (...) Central Asia, as a region, and each country individually have undergone tremendous changes over the last decades and new opportunities are opening up for them. Opportunities come with challenges and threats either new or old ones. The world in which we live is changing and, at the same time, becoming more connected. We are facing global challenges and threats. Every region is also facing challenges and threats but we must note that for each country there are also plenty of opportunities," Melescanu told a conference called "Connectivity for Sustainable Development," organised by Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in co-operation with the European External Action Service. Melescanu said that Romania, as host of the event, wants to provide a platform for concrete projects enabling co-operation and intensification of connectivity. "Traditionally, Romania shares constructive agendas with all the countries of Central Asia. We have intensified bilateral diplomatic and politic dialogue on regional affairs. We have been advocating for a closer relationship with the European Union as a trustworthy partner for reforms and modernisation, in view of significant positive developments in the region," he said. He highlighted a "substantial partnership" built by Romania with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, mentioning political contacts, dialogue at the level of foreign ministries, joint economic committees, as well as co-operation projects in transport, energy and education. He noted at the same time that "joint efforts undertaken over the past two years opened new chapters in the relationship" with partners in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. "In regional dynamics, water is a matter of concern to Central Asia, which highlights the unique role of this essential resource for prosperity and stability. Even if there are challenges in this area, they should lead to future long-term bilateral and regional co-operation projects for sustainable development. From this point of view, we are particularly interested in sharing our experience and best practices with the management of water resources," added Melescanu. He also mentioned that in the beginning of March the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Turkmenistan signed a joint political declaration in Bucharest to support the materialisation of the Black Sea - Caspian Sea freight route. "It is more than obvious that not only geographically, the Black Sea, South Caucasus and Central Asia are at the core of the transport route from Europe to Asia and are an important part of the EU strategy to connect Europe and Asia. In this respect, Romania and Turkmenistan, along with Georgia and Azerbaijan, have declared their political will and a strong commitment to the freight route between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea across the four countries, signing a declaration at the level of the foreign ministers in Bucharest on March 4. We see this route as a measure that adds up to other initiatives in the region, also open to third country participation," Melescanu explained. The minister highlighted the part of connectivity in linking Afghanistan to the wider Central Asian neighbourhood, which would help strengthen peace and economic development in that country. He also pointed to another aspect of connectivity, education and contacts between people who build "bridges" in areas that are affected sometimes by distance and geography. AGERPRES (RO - author: Irinela Visan, editor: Claudia Stanescu; EN - author: Corneliu-Aurelian Colceriu, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

[Read the article in Agerpres]

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