FOREIGN POLICY

Athens seeking access to Central Asia

athens-seeking-access-to-central-asia

As part of the effort by Athens to open up channels offering economic and geopolitical opportunities in central Asia, Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of economic diplomacy and extroversion Costas Frangogiannis will attend the first EU Central Asia Economic Forum at the end of week, which will involve delegations from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the host country, Kyrgyzstan.

The tactic underpinning the Greek government’s agenda is to open up to countries with which Greece did not have traditional cooperation relations, based on a positive economic agenda.

Greece’s presence at the forum also coincides with Athens’ aim to return to an area that Ankara describes as a region under its direct influence amid a bigger game being played out in Central Asia, with China and the West vying for improved access.

Athens also plans to reinvest in its relations with countries seen as bridges to Central Asia, not least Azerbaijan. Due to Baku’s very close relationship with Ankara, contacts between Greece and Azerbaijan had been frozen, but serious efforts are being made to revive channels of communication and cooperation.

The forum in which Frangogiannis will participate is based on the principles of the revised EU strategy for Central Asia. The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement foresees the creation of a framework of uniform rules for the development of a unified regional market but also to address global and regional challenges, such as the climate crisis, terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan.

Within this broader context, the EU has pledged to support the accession of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the partnership aims to reform the rule of law, entrepreneurship and education, and to modernize infrastructure.