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On 22 and 23 February 2018, in Astana, more than 150 delegates gathered for an international conference in Astana organized by the EU Delegation in Kazakhstan to mark the 25th anniversary of EU-Central Asia cooperation. The Conference brought together politicians, senior officials, academics, experts as well as representatives of international organizations, civil society and the media. It had the ambitious goal not only to provide an overview of the developments in the last quarter of century in the major areas of cooperation, but also to identify prospects for future partnership and enhanced relations between Central Asia and Europe. This was a particularly pertinent objective in view of the ongoing consultation process aimed to facilitate the elaboration, in 2019, of a new EU Strategy for Central Asia.

The keynote speeches at the conference were delivered by the EU Special Representative for Central Asia Peter Burian and by Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov. Minister Abdrakhmanov urged the EU "to be more ambitious" in the region and spelled out Kazakhstan's proposals for the new Strategy, namely: support to private entrepreneurship and SMEs, improving energy efficiency, development of region's transit and transport potential and assistance in digital transformation. EUSR Peter Burian stressed the need for the EU and its Central Asian partners to refine the existing and to set up new cooperation mechanisms to address remaining and emerging security challenges.

Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko, Ambassador Traian Hristea, Head of the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan and his colleagues from the rest of the Central Asian capitals, Philippe Van Amersfoort, Deputy Head of CA Division, EEAS, ambassadors of the EU Member States took the floor on variety of topics, as did renowned scholars and experts from Europe, Kazakhstan and countries of the region.

Among them were: Krzysztof Strachota, Center for Eastern Studies , Poland; Nicholas de Pedro, Barcelona Center for International Relations, Spain; Muzaffar Olimov, Director, "Shark" Research Center, Tajikistan; Botir Tursunov, Deputy Director, Institute of Strategic and Interregional Studies, Uzbekistan; Elaine Conkievich, representative of UN Women; Alma Kasymova, Principal Manager, Advice for Small Businesses, EBRD; Sanat Kushkumbayev, Deputy Director, Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies; Nargis Kassenova, Director, Central Asian Studies Center, KIMEP and others.

ISTC Executive Director David Cleave attended the conference as well as Kamen Velichkov, Senior Program Manager and Diplomatic Advisor. The event provided an opportunity for the concise presentation of the input ISTC stands ready to make in the new EU Strategy in the areas of CBRN risk mitigation, nuclear and bio-safety, strategic export control, research and technological exchange as well as for bilateral exchanges over topics of mutual interest with EU officials, EBRD, Sweden, Canada, Uzbekistan, etc.