Team Europe: EIB immediate Covid-19 response support to the Georgian MSME sector reaches milestone with additional support to Liberty Bank

Published in Economics
Monday, 01 March 2021 17:47
  • The EU bank will extend Covid-measures to the existing credit line at the Liberty Bank for a total of €17.5 million, including a €2.5 million multi-currency top-up.
  • Loan reinforces Team Europe support for the recovery of Georgian MSMEs from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as sustains jobs, maintains liquidity and operations, and fuels the economic recovery of Georgia.
  • In 2020 alone, EIB provided  €70 million to support faster recovery of Georgian businesses from COVID-19 pandemic

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the European Union, and Liberty Bank agreed to expand an existing credit line for Georgian micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with additional €2.5 million to a total of €17.5 million. With this signature, the EIBs total Covid-19 immediate response comprises additional lending exceeding € 70 million, and existing loans benefiting from Covid measures exceeding € 90 million.
 
The EIB loans inject fresh capital into the national financial market at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is burdening SMEs with liquidity issues and restricting their ability to access finance for maintaining daily operations or funding expansion plans.
 
The loan agreement was signed in presence Charles Michel, the President of the European Council.
 
Please find the video materials here: https://we.tl/t-HjPiBizZZK
 
EIB President Werner Hoyer, said: Team Europe and the EIB will continue to build up our support for the Georgian MSMEs and fuel the economic and social recovery of the national economy from COVID-19. Last year alone we boosted Georgian recovery from COVID-19 with EUR 170 – 70 million in new lending for MSMES, and 100 million for the reinforcement of the national healthcare sector`s ability to deal with the pandemic. Today, the EIB increased both the amount and the attractiveness of our loans available to MSMEs, as this is the first loan the EU Bank provides to a counterpart in Georgia in local currency. We look forward maintaining our position as the trusted ally of the Republic of Georgia and a key source of support for sustainable social and economic development.”
 
CEO of Liberty Bank Vasil Khodeli commentedI would like to thank EIB and the EU for their continuous support and the confidence they have shown in Liberty Bank. Thanks to the increased loan amount, Liberty Bank will unlock significant additional lending for MSMEs in Georgia. The coronavirus has hit MSMEs very hard and this facility will provide much needed support for our clients to overcome short-term liquidity shortages, maintain jobs and support economic recovery in the upcoming months. The additional multi-currency facility equivalent to GEL 10 million includes the possibility to make financing available in local currency, which provides us with greater flexibility to finance and support wider range of MSME businesses in Georgia. This is also a further sign of our commitment to help businesses of all sizes to get through the turbulent times.”

Further increasing affordability of EIB loans
 
The loan introduces the option to make funding available in synthetic lari, Georgia’s national currency, and increases the affordability of the loans for MSMEs. The expansion will help Georgian MSMEs sustain jobs, maintain liquidity to continue operations, and fuel the economic recovery of Georgia from the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The investment from the EU bank forms part of the EIB’s SME Outreach Initiative, which promotes access to finance for MSMEs by supporting smaller local banks to better service their clients. MSMEs are the backbone of the Georgian economy and major employers in the country. The loan expansion comes with a €450,000 in technical assistance to support Liberty Bank improve and expand its offer for MSMEs.
 
Team Europe adds value for Georgian companies
 
Covered by a guarantee from the European Union, the loan from the EU bank will enable increase in lending activities to MSMEs without jeopardising the long-term stability of the country’s financial sector or its ability to support the economic recovery from the pandemic in the long term.
 
This credit line comes with increase attractiveness to SMEs benefiting from the more flexible lending terms enabled by the EIB’s COVID-19 emergency measures. These measures are extended as part of the Team Europe’s efforts to Georgia and other EU partner countries during the pandemic.
 
To date, the EU bank has invested more than €290 million in credit lines for Georgian businesses, sustaining more than 54,000 jobs in the country.
 
Background information
 
About the EIB:
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.
 
The EIB in Georgia:
The EU Bank has been supporting economic and social development of Georgia since in 2007, providing to date some EUR 1.85 billion to local economy. The EU Bank activities in the country supported key infrastructure projects (EUR 1bn), MSMEs and mid-caps (EUR 290m), Municipal infrastructure (EUR 280m) and green energy generation projects (EUR 23.5m). COVID-19 recovery activities in 2020 totalled EUR 170m.
 
Georgia is among a few non-EU countries eligible to benefit from the European Investment Fund (EIF) operations, designed to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with risk-sharing instruments.  Today, the EIB Group portfolio of guarantees in Georgia cover EUR 382.9 million of SMEs loans.

The EIB finances most projects in Georgia under the EU External Lending Mandate. This provides the EIB with a guarantee covered by the EU budget for projects in the fields of social and economic infrastructure, local private sector development and climate action. Projects may also benefit from EU grants made available under the DCFTA program funded by the NIP, which amongst others promotes EIB’s efforts to make funding available in local currency.
 
About JSC Liberty Bank:

Liberty Bank is one of the largest Banks in Georgia, with total Assets of over GEL 2 bln and Capital GEL 200 mln. The Bank operates the largest branch network comprised of over 360 branches and 570 ATMs. The Bank is the exclusive agent of the Government of Georgia for the distribution of pensions and social benefits. The Bank employs over 4600 employees serving over 1.7 mln customers. 

For more information on the EIB’s activities in Georgia please follow: https://www.eib.org/en/publications/the-european-investment-bank-in-georgia

Source: The EU Press Release

Georgia: Statement by the Spokesperson on the latest political developments

Published in Politics
Thursday, 25 February 2021 11:10

Following the arrest of Nikanor Melia, Chairperson of the United National Movement - the largest opposition party in Georgia, political polarisation in the country has regrettably further deepened. This polarisation risks undermining Georgia’s democracy. The European Union urges all parties to step up efforts to de-escalate and come together to find common ground.

Starting with those in power, we expect the Government to provide inclusive leadership, putting the interests of the Georgian people first. A fair, independent and accountable judiciary is also paramount. The European Union will remain very attentive to developments in this regard.

It is crucial that the opposition plays a constructive role, including by joining the Parliament, to further consolidate democracy and the rule of law in Georgia, and to help shape the country’s reform path.

Political stability, with all sides avoiding provocative actions and rhetoric, an inclusive parliamentary process, as well as a judicial system that enjoys the trust of the Georgian citizens are prerequisites for Georgia to further deepen its partnership with the EU in line with the Association Agreement.

The European Union stands ready to continue supporting Georgia in this endeavour.

European Union and WHO join forces to support vaccination against COVID-19 in Georgia

Published in Health
Monday, 22 February 2021 13:49

The European Union and the WHO Regional Office for Europe will work together in a major effort to support the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination in Georgia. The project funded by the European Union and implemented by WHO will cover all phases - constituting “end-to-end” support - of COVID-19 vaccine deployment and vaccination and will also serve as a major investment to strengthen the routine immunization system.

The project will be implemented by WHO over a three-year period as part of a €40 million European Union-funded initiative to support six countries in the WHO European Region in preparing for, deploying and monitoring rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia said:

“As part of our joint efforts to stop COVID-19, a proper and efficient vaccination campaign is key. The EU continues to stand by Georgia during the pandemic and is proud today to launch a new initiative with our close partner WHO. This initiative will support the complex vaccination rollout so that vaccines, when they arrive, are efficiently utilized and reach those that need them most.”

Silviu Domente, WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Georgia, said:

“Vaccines offer hope and protection to those fighting on the frontlines of this pandemic and to those at highest risk living in fear of its devastating impact. Thanks to this generous support, WHO can strengthen its collaboration with the Government of Georgia to ensure that vaccines can reach those who need them most, as soon and as efficiently as possible.”

The funds will be used initially to support the first phase of preparedness and deployment, with an emphasis on imminent needs in strategic programmatic areas such as planning, equipment/supplies, training of health workers and information campaigns.  

The project builds on the European Union’s and WHO’s ongoing support to countries’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the joint €35 million EU Solidarity for Health Initiative, aimed to support the partner countries in their fight against the virus and address better the needs of the most vulnerable people.

The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"

New EU programme to support readiness for vaccination efforts in Eastern Partnership countries with WHO

Published in Health
Saturday, 13 February 2021 13:34

Today, the European Union in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a new regional programme worth over €40 million to provide critical assistance to ensure local readiness and preparedness for safe and effective vaccination of the population in each of the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

By strengthening preparedness and readiness of the countries for vaccinations, this programme will prepare the countries for the effective receipt and administering of vaccines, including those from COVAX and through vaccine sharing mechanisms with EU Member States. The programme includes risk communication and community engagement, support to vaccine supply chain management, vaccination data and safety monitoring, training of health managers and medical staff involved in the vaccination campaign, scheduling of the vaccinations, as well as key logistical support for the delivery and handling of the vaccines and supplies.

Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, responsible for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, stated, “With this new programme that we launch today in partnership with the WHO, the EU shows that it delivers on its commitment to support our Eastern Partners to fight the health crisis. Acting together now will also allow us to work rapidly on the region's sustainable socio-economic recovery. Today's programme comes in addition to the 1 billion of EU assistance mobilised so far to address the health pandemic and support the longer term socio-economic recovery of the region.”

Background

The programme is part of the Team Europe initiative, and builds on the joint ongoing European Union and WHO Solidarity for Health Initiative in the Eastern Partnership.

This Health Initiative of over €35 million, has already provided substantial medical supplies across the region, including over 11 million items of personal protective equipment, 12,000 lab kits, over 1,500 ventilators, oxygen concentrators and pulse oximeters, and over 20,000 PCR testing kits.

The EU is one of the strongest supporters of COVAX, which remains the best vehicle to ensure fair and equitable access to these vaccines and deliver on international vaccine solidarity. 

Team Europe has contributed more than €850 million for COVAX, including €500 million from the EU budget. This will be a key contribution for COVAX to secure 1.3 billion doses of vaccines for 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.

To ensure early access to vaccines and building on the experience of the EU's Vaccine Strategy, the European Commission is operating an EU sharing mechanism to facilitate Member States' sharing of doses secured by the EU, including with our Eastern partners. 

The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east"

EBRD and EU strengthen support to small businesses in Georgia

Published in Economics
Tuesday, 09 February 2021 11:26

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will enhance its advisory services in Georgia to support local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in digitalisation and access to capital markets during the COVID-19 crisis. Together with Team Europe, the EBRD aims to increase the resilience and agility of the private sector.

Backed by €1.8 million in EU funding, the EBRD will help local firms with their digital transformation to avoid interruptions to their operations because of the pandemic and rebuild their businesses with a focus on sustainable and green practices. The previous phase of funding supported strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s SME sector.

In parallel, the EBRD will assist the National Bank of Georgia with the design and implementation of support mechanisms facilitating access to capital markets – both debt and equity – for local corporates, including SMEs. Targeted support will enhance Georgian companies’ preparedness for capital markets, broaden their funding sources and help attract financing from domestic and international investors. Companies can receive tailor-made advisory services and technical support to improve their corporate governance, transparency and credit rating to source investments across capital markets.

The announcement follows the new EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso’s first visit to Georgia on 1 and 2 February.

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Georgia. Since the start of its operations in the country, the Bank has invested more than €4.2 billion in 262 projects in the financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors.

The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east".

Young entrepreneurs bring innovation to rural development

Published in Economics
Tuesday, 22 December 2020 16:22

EU and UNDP support business “bootcamps” for rural youth

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have completed the fourth round of business bootcamps designed to help aspiring young entrepreneurs to create and expand rural businesses. Over 60 young people from all over Georgia submitted their applications and, after a virtual brainstorming session, 22 of them were selected to take part in an online bootcamp that took place on 12-13 December.

The EU and UNDP have already organized three similar business bootcamps for rural youth since November 2019, under their wider ENPARD-3 programme for rural development. These sessions are organized in partnership with the Rural Development Agency (RDA) that operates under the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA), and two business-support entities: the social enterprise “Tbilisi Start-up Bureau” and the Batumi Business Incubator.

The initiative was kicked off a year ago to support youth entrepreneurship in rural areas and promote innovative rural businesses outside of agriculture and agri-food. The EU and UNDP continued supporting young entrepreneurs through the pandemic lockdown, exploring online formats for organizing meetups and training sessions.

The first three bootcamps, held in November and December 2019 and October 2020, brought together some 110 young entrepreneurs for a packed schedule of motivational talks and training that guided them through all stages of business modelling – from hatching an idea, identifying a target market, assessing client needs and local opportunities, developing marketing and media plans and defining the resources and partners needed to get the idea off the ground.

At the end of each bootcamp, the best business ideas were selected for future support: 24 winning entrepreneurs have so far started work on new businesses with the potential to create 90 jobs in tourism, manufacturing and other sectors.

“Youth are key drivers of the economic and social transformation of rural areas in Georgia,” said Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia. “By empowering and proactively engaging young entrepreneurs we hope to enable them to unleash their innovative capabilities and realize their business ideas. Creating new economic opportunities and improving livelihoods of rural communities has always been at the center of the EU’s work here in Georgia. It gains particular importance now as we are joining hands to overcome the impact of the pandemic.”

“Youth entrepreneurship holds the promise of new jobs and new livelihoods for Georgia’s rural regions, and can give energetic young people a rewarding local alternative to leaving home,” said UNDP Head Louisa Vinton. “Moreover, as Georgia looks ahead beyond the pandemic shock, fresh and innovative business ideas can help drive a robust recovery.”

Georgia remains one of the most business-friendly countries globally, placing seventh out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 rankings. However, the pandemic is expected to reverse the growth trends, pushing the country into a six-percent recession in 2020 and increasing the poverty rate by up to 2.8 percentage points.

Recent research carried out by the EU and UNDP shows that almost half of Georgian companies have experienced a dramatic drop in revenues. But 70 percent of businesses are exploring new opportunities emerging amidst the crisis.

The EU and UNDP are Georgia’s long-term supporters in promoting rural development. EUR 179.5 million in EU assistance has been allocated to Georgia under the ENPARD programme between 2013 and 2022. This support aims to promote rural development policies and create economic opportunities for the rural population outside of agriculture. More information about ENPARD is available at www.enpard.ge

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The EU commits a further €55 million for the development of agriculture and rural areas in Georgia

Published in Economics
Thursday, 17 December 2020 12:34

The fourth phase of the EU’s ENPARD programme will provide extended assistance in the food safety and SPS sector to enhance consumer protection and promote EU exports of Georgian products. The programme will also continue to support rural development to further improve living conditions for a larger proportion of the rural population in Georgia.
 
TBILISI. December 17, 2020 – The EU Ambassador to Georgia H.E. Carl Hartzell and the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Mr. David Zalkaliani today signed an agreement to kick off the fourth phase of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD IV) worth €55 million (approximately GEL 215 million). The Acting Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia Mr. Levan Davitashvili also attended the signature event. The programme aims to enhance consumer protection, promote EU exports and improve livelihoods of rural population in Georgia. It is part of the wider assistance package mobilized by the EU and Team Europe to support Georgia’s COVID-19 recovery.  
 
“We are happy to announce today our continued cooperation with the government of Georgia under the fourth phase of the ENPARD programme. Since 2013, with over GEL 500 million budget, the EU’s ENPARD programme has been providing extensive support to make Georgia’s agriculture more competitive and to improve living standards in rural areas. Looking forward, we would like to see more Georgian farmers, cooperatives and small and medium size enterprises better equipped to produce high quality products and export to the EU. We also support better infrastructure and services, growth of tourism, more effective local public-private partnerships and entrepreneurship in rural areas. This will help create new employment opportunities and will maximize the country’s economic growth,” stated Carl Hartzell, EU Ambassador to Georgia.
 
“ENPARD programme brings concrete results for our country and particularly for our rural population. As a result of this program, the quality of products, the employment opportunities for our citizens and the EU exports are significantly improving. Even more important is the implementation of this programme at in the pandemic context. The financial support provided to Georgia under the fourth phase of ENPARD is part of the wider EU assistance supporting Georgia’s COVID-19 recovery,” stated David Zalkaliani, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia.
 
“Georgia is one of the outstanding countries of the Eastern Partnership that has successfully carried out all three phases of ENPARD programme. We believe that the fourth phase will be implemented successfully as well. This is a remarkable volume of assistance, € 55 million, of which € 31 million is going to be the direct budget support. However, a very important and efficient part of the assistance is a € 24 million technical and grant component, which is going to have a complementary effect on the implementation of our policy also developed in close partnership with the EU,” stated Levan Davitashvili, Acting Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia.
 
ENPARD IV will provide extended assistance in the food safety and sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) sector to enhance consumer protection for citizens of Georgia and to promote exports of Georgian products to EU Member States. ENPARD IV will build on the achievements of the Comprehensive Institution Building (CIB) programme and of previous ENPARD phases. It will provide further support to the National Food Agency (NFA) for improved inspection and control systems and for continuation of the legal approximation process including enforcement of newly adopted regulations. It will also support food business operators in their efforts to adapt to the sectoral reforms.
 
In addition, ENPARD IV will further support rural development and will improve living conditions for a larger proportion of the rural population in Georgia, rendering the rural development sector more dynamic and effectively contributing to Georgia’s economic and social development. The fourth phase of ENPARD will improve the economic and social integration of vulnerable households in disadvantaged rural regions of Georgia, including eco-migrants, conflict affected people, ethnic minorities, Georgian returnees and migrants. The action will continue to enhance civic participation in the regions of Georgia through increased civil society involvement in local decision-making processes and will continue to actively promote and encourage participation of youth and women, noting the specific needs and constraints of these groups.

Press Release of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia

EU launches nine new projects with EUR 7 million budget to support vocational education and labour market development in Georgia

Published in Economics
Tuesday, 15 December 2020 12:51

Projects funded under the EU’s ongoing Skills4Jobs programme will assist thousands of Georgians in finding jobs by enhancing high quality vocational education, improving lifelong learning opportunities and supporting entrepreneurship.

At a special event held online under the auspices of Skills Week Georgia, the nine grant projects, funded by the EU’s second phase of the Skills4Jobs programme in Georgia, were introduced. These grants have been allocated to private and public sector and civil society organisations to further enhance employment opportunities, particularly in the regions. 

The nine projects, with a total EU contribution of EUR 7 million (approx. GEL 27 million), will focus on ensuring that relevant skills matching services and education opportunities in vocational education, training and entrepreneurship are available throughout Georgia, particularly for youth, women and vulnerable populations. The Skills4Jobs overall programme has three main targets:

  • Relevant skills-matching services are accessible in selected regions of Georgia;
  • Relevant lifelong learning skills provision are accessible in selected regions with a focus on youth;
  • Entrepreneurial learning and training opportunities are accessible in selected regions.

“We are happy to launch the new grant projects as part of the second phase of the EU’s Skills4Jobs 5-year programme in Georgia. In the context of COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to support Georgia in its efforts to improve professional skills, enhance entrepreneurship and adapt the labour and employment strategies to the current needs. With the start of these new projects we contribute directly to the improvement of employability of women, men, youth and vulnerable people in Tbilisi and regions of Georgia.”, stated Catalin Gherman, Deputy Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Georgia.

“At this time when coronavirus is testing Georgia’s VET system to its limits, and while we are striving to introduce new and innovative approaches in VET governance and practices and increase the attractiveness of vocational education and qualifications, we are being strongly supported as always by the EU, our longest-standing partner in VET. Europe is a source of inspiration and best practice examples in VET, and the EU’s financial and technical support has been invaluable in helping us to modernize our system in line with international standards”, stated Tamar Kitiashvili, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia.

The Skills Week Georgia, an online four-day conference, organized by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia with the support of the EU’s Skills4Jobs Technical Assistance Project, offers a platform to discuss new challenges and solutions for vocational education in the current reality. The conference was opened by Mikheil Chkhenkeli – Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Sigrid Brettel – Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, His Excellency Hubert Knirsch – Ambassador of Germany and Ekaterine Mikabadze – Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development.

Phase 2 of the EU’s Skills4Jobsprogramme was launched in 2018 to improve the employability of women, men, young people and vulnerable people in Tbilisi and regions of Georgia. The programme is implemented through a range of different measures. The total budget of the programme is EUR 48,85 million (approx. GEL 190 million) and includes:

  • a EUR 30 million budget support to the Government of Georgia for implementing sector reform,
  • two Twinning projects which bring the EU Member States’ civil servants to Georgia to help introduce reforms,
  • grant scheme component for EUR 7 million, and
  • technical assistance to support the relevant ministries. This component is assisting the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Youth Agency and other public agencies in updating and improving their sector reform policies.

Source: https://eu4georgia.ge/eu-launches-nine-new-projects-with-eur-7-million-budget-to-support-vocational-education-and-labour-market-development-in-georgia/

Turkmenistan is convinced of the need to attract political-diplomatic tools to achieve peace and prosperity in Afghanistan

Published in World
Wednesday, 25 November 2020 11:34

The plenary session of the High-level Conference on Afghanistan, which is being held online in Geneva, took place today.

During the meeting, the heads of foreign affairs agencies of dozens of countries of the world, including Russia, Iran, Switzerland, the USA, as well as the representatives of the UN and its divisions, the European Union and other multilateral structures gave speeches.  The event was marked by the addresses of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres.

The participants of the meeting discussed issues of cooperation between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community in achieving common interests: sustainable development, prosperity and peace in Afghanistan. In particular, the development vectors for 2021-2024, partnership coordination, as well as financial support for the Afghan administration were considered. The focus is on the development of a common political statement and financial mechanism for the economic development of this country.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan R. Meredov outlined the position and actions of Turkmenistan aimed at supporting the process of establishing sustainable peace in Afghanistan, including its involvement in the global economy.

It was especially emphasized that Turkmenistan is convinced of the need to involve diplomatic and political mechanisms in achieving peace in Afghanistan, which is a solid foundation for the country's socio-economic development.

As an example, R. Meredov cited a number of initiatives of the Government of Turkmenistan aimed at supporting fraternal Afghanistan. This includes the expansion of humanitarian cooperation, and the development and implementation of large regional and international infrastructure projects in the field of energy, transport, communications and much more.

At this meeting, it was noted that Turkmenistan intends to continue to provide assistance to Afghanistan and its people.

Turkmenistan adheres to the multilateral partnership in the format “Central Asia – European Union”

Published in World
Wednesday, 18 November 2020 14:54

During today’s 16th Central Asia - EU Ministerial Meeting, the key issues of regional and international agenda were discussed. The Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan noted the active role of Turkmenistan in addressing the global challenges, as well as strengthening multilateral regional and international cooperation.     

Thus, the firm commitment of Turkmenistan to the initiatives in the area of energy security, use of ecofriendly energy, expansion of regional and international transport and transit communications was underlined. 

The parties expressed interest in the advancement of trade-economic, transport and energy cooperation and agreed to hold the First Economic Forum “EU-Central Asia” in 2021.

The issues of security and stability in the Central Asia and nearby regions were especially regarded.  In this regard, the firm adherence of Turkmenistan to the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy was emphasized. The importance of the Ashgabat Declaration of 2011 and the Central Asia’s Joint Plan of Action to counter terrorism was highlighted. 

The participants expressed interest in continuing cooperation between the Central Asia and the EU on combatting terrorism, transnational organized crime, human trafficking, illegal drug trafficking and cyber security threats. In this context, the Turkmen side called for the intensification of partnership in the CA-EU-UN format.

The parties discussed the advancement of intra-Afghan peace talks and underlined the importance of support to the overall reinstatement of Afghanistan.  It was noted that Turkmenistan actively works on the promotion of large infrastructural projects with participation of Afghanistan, including the    construction of the gas pipeline TAPI, power and fiber-optic communication lines on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route, building of the railway lines from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan.      

The participants of the session welcomed the initiative of the Government of Turkmenistan to host in December of current year in Ashgabat, an International Conference entitled as the “Policy of Neutrality and its Importance in Ensuring International Peace, Security, and Sustainable Development” devoted to the 25th anniversary of permanent Neutrality of Turkmenistan, as well as to organize an International High-Level Forum in the year of 2021, which has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Peace and Trust.

The heads of the external policy agencies of the EU and Central Asia welcomed the mutual cooperation on humanitarian issues and discussed the opportunities of widening ties in the area of education, science, culture, technologies and innovations.

The Joint Communiqué was adopted upon the outcomes of the 16th Central Asia - EU Ministerial Meeting.

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