EU to reinforce security co-operation with Central Asia
BISHKEK -- As Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries grapple with militancy, the European Union (EU) is offering to help.
Only joint efforts by the EU and Central Asia can defeat terrorism and extremism in the region, say EU officials.
"Central Asian authorities and civil society must unite to solve radicalism," Peter Burian, the EU special representative for Central Asia, told Caravanserai. "We ... are very actively developing counter-terrorism co-operation between the [EU] and Central Asian countries."
Increasing border security
The EU and Central Asian countries have decided to continue their Border Management in Central Asia (BOMCA) programme for another two years and to increase EU financing of the project, said an EU diplomat, Jean-Christophe Belliard.
"We intend to speed up projects to combat drug trafficking and increase co-operation," he said in Bishkek in June.
The EU has a remarkable history of security co-operation with Central Asia and Afghanistan, Askar Erkebayev, the EU spokesman in Kyrgyzstan, told Caravanserai, citing BOMCA and its analogue in Afghanistan, the Border Management Northern Afghanistan (BOMNAF) programme.
These programmes aim to establish an integrated border management system, strengthen border co-operation and facilitate trade, he told Caravanserai.
The EU also helps Central Asia fight drug trafficking through the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP) and the trans-regional EU Action against Drugs and Organised Crime (EU-ACT) programme, he added.
"We need more-robust infrastructure for border management so that we can ease the passage of cargo across the border and increase border oversight," said Kyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Dinara Kemelova in Bishkek in June.
Fighting radicalism in the region
The EU has offered a number of ideas for specialists from Central Asian countries' security agencies, said Belliard.
"We invited them to visit Europe to understand how to fight radicalisation both in the provinces and online," he said.
Officials June 8 in Bishkek attended the fourth High Level Political and Security Dialogue for the EU and Central Asian countries. The meeting took place at deputy foreign minister level, with Afghanistan also participating.
Officials from the EU and Central Asia exchanged views on various issues, including counter-terrorism and violent extremism, drug trafficking and border management. Forum participants reviewed possibilities for reinforced co-operation in these areas.
"The parties agreed to step up joint work between the EU and Central Asian countries in all specified fields," said Erkebayev. "The High Level Political and Security Dialogue reflects the EU and Central Asia's mutual interest, whose priority is strengthening dialogue and co-operation on regional security."
In another step representing Central Asia's focus on security matters, Kazakhstan will chair the UN Security Council in January 2018. The chairmanship of the body rotates every month among the council's members.
"Kazakhstan and the UN ... intend to accentuate their focus on the Central Asian region, [a decision that] the European Union wholeheartedly supports," Belliard said at the conference.