In its June 2007 Strategy for Central Asia, the EU under the German Presidency declared the goal of expanding relations with the five Central Asian states. The Ministerial Conferences, established one year ago, are an important element in coordinating future fields of cooperation and joint policy options. Tomorrow (Tuesday, 15 September) the EU Foreign Ministers will meet for the second time in Brussels with their counterparts from the five Central Asian states. Minister of State Gernot Erler will represent Germany at the conference and will use the opportunity to also engage in bilateral talks with the foreign ministers of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as with the deputy foreign minister of Kazakhstan.
In addition to security policy issues, the meeting will focus on a joint analysis of the effects of the economic and financial crisis on the region as well as an exchange of views on cooperation in the area of water and energy management. The Strategy for Central Asia establishes the field of environment and water as a priority for the cooperation. The German Government is especially active in this area: Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier launched the Central Asia water initiative at the water conference in Berlin on 1 April 2008. With this initiative Germany hopes to make a substantial contribution to improving cross-border water management in Central Asia.
On the sidelines of the Ministerial Conference, Minister of State Erler will also meet with the director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch to discuss the human rights situation in Russia and the Central Asian states.