PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Minister for Foreign Affairs George W. Vella chairs the EU-Kyrgyz Republic fifteenth Cooperation Council meeting

Political dialogue and regional cooperation

The Cooperation Council reviewed political developments in the Kyrgyz Republic ahead of the Presidential elections scheduled for November 2017. The EU encouraged the Kyrgyz Republic to build on the success of competitive parliamentary elections in October 2015, to ensure a level playing field for all potential candidates, and to cooperate with relevant international organisations.

The EU emphasised that the rule of law, fight against corruption and judicial reform were necessary pre-conditions for sustainable development and an attractive business environment. It called on the Kyrgyz government to guarantee the independence of the judiciary. The EU continues to support the Kyrgyz authorities in their efforts in this regard.

The EU welcomed the rejection by the Kyrgyz Parliament of the so-called “foreign agent law” as a recognition of the important positive role that the civil society traditionally plays in the Kyrgyz Republic, and urged the authorities not to politicise the work of the civil society organisations and human rights defenders. The EU valued the important work of the OSCE in the country and expressed support for a new, effective mandate for the OSCE in Kyrgyzstan.

The Cooperation Council also addressed political and economic developments in the region and exchanged views on threats to regional security. The EU appreciated the positive engagement of the Kyrgyz Republic in regional dialogue and cooperation.

Development and trade cooperation

The Cooperation Council reaffirmed the interest of both parties to further strengthen bilateral relations and reviewed achievements and plans in key sectors of development cooperation. The EU and Kyrgyzstan noted the good pace of implementation of EU financial package of support, amounting to Euros 184 million for 2014-2020. Indeed, two thirds of the package has already been allocated to specific programmes or budget support in the three focal areas of cooperation: the rule of law, the education sector and rural development.

The Kyrgyz Republic additionally benefits from support provided through regional and thematic programmes. The EU supports capacity building in border management, drug prevention and fight against organised crime. Two projects in the field of environment will start this year to mitigate the impact of Soviet-era uranium mining. In addition, Kyrgyzstan has received Euros 49 million from the Investment Facility for Central Asia, which blends EU grants and loans from European financing institutions to facilitate access to credit for public authorities and businesses.

The EU and Kyrgyzstan also discussed the benefits from Generalised Scheme of Preferences, the GSP+, under which more than 6000 product can be exported to the EU without tariffs since 2016.

The Kyrgyz Republic is an important partner of the EU in Central Asia. The EU stays committed to the partnership based on the shared values of democracy and respect for human rights, and will continue to work closely with the Kyrgyz authorities to support their reform efforts to ensure a stable system of democratic governance and promote economic prosperity.

The Cooperation Council was chaired by George W. Vella, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malta, holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The delegation of the Kyrgyz Republic was led by Mr Erlan Abdyldaev, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Source: Government of Malta