Lithuanian Foreign Minister meets with Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister, stresses importance of regional cooperation in Central Asia

02 October 2013, Last updated at, 08:32 EEST
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L.Linkevičius and H.Zarifi. | author: The Council of the European Union

Chairing the EU-Tajikistan Cooperation Council on 1 October in Brussels, the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius said that peace and sustainable development in Central Asia in Afghanistan remained linked to successful regional cooperation.

“The region faces many common challenges, which no country can deal with on its own, such as drug trafficking, border management, developments in neighbouring Afghanistan, and the post-2014 situation once the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdraws,” L.Linkevičius said. “The security issues in Afghanistan cannot be addressed without engagement of regional actors.”

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister participated in the meeting on behalf of the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

Speaking on behalf of the EU, L.Linkevičius affirmed the EU’s long term interest to enhance cooperation with Tajikistan.

The Council meeting discussed progress in implementing the EU’s Strategy for Central Asia, focused on political and economic reforms in Tajikistan as well as regional cooperation on security, management of water and energy resources.

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister congratulated Tajikistan on becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), stressed the importance of the membership for the country’s further integration into the world economy, and expressed the EU’s determination to continue providing support in the implementation of the WTO regulations. The meeting also discussed opportunities to further improve business and investment climate.

L.Linkevičius said that as the Presidential Election Day (6 November) was drawing near, the EU was monitoring the human rights situation and the rule of law, and called for closer engagement of civil society in political processes.

“The European Union fears that people may revert to radical views and ways of expressing themselves, if they feel they are not being listened to. This could undermine political stability in the country and the broader region,” L.Linkevičius said.

Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi positively evaluated the EU’s support for regional security initiatives. Implementing the OSCE projects Lithuania has been for a couple of years sharing its experience and training border guards from Tajikistan and other countries of the region, including Afghanistan at the Border Guard School in Medininkai.

L.Linkevičius invited the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan to participate in the EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting to be held on 20 November in Brussels.

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