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    A new horizon of cooperation: Uzbekistan and the European Union in regional policy and security

    On June 2 of this year, the second EU-Central Asia summit was held in the city of Cholpon-Ata. The meeting was devoted to a variety of key issues of politics, security, economy, cultural and humanitarian ties and ecology.

    Uzbekistan, being the most populous country in Central Asia, reacts to the current geopolitical situation through a flexible "multi-vector foreign policy". Due to its geographical location, it actively supports cooperation with its neighbors and partners.

    One of the priorities in this context is to strengthen cooperation with the European Union, which pays special attention to Uzbekistan in political and economic terms.

    During the EU-Central Asia conference in 2022 in Samarkand, EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrel highlighted Europe's interest in the region.

    "If we had talked about Central Asia a few years ago, we could have said that it is nowhere to be found. But today it's everywhere!".

    This interest is reflected in the EU Strategies for Central Asia. The first was adopted in 2007 and represented the EU's long-term commitment to regional and bilateral cooperation with Central Asian countries.

    In 2019, the European Union presented a new strategy for Central Asia, which currently stimulates positive changes in the field of regional cooperation and attaches special strategic importance to the region for the interests of the EU.

    In addition, there is an active dialogue between Central Asia and the EU in bilateral and multilateral formats. In October 2022, Astana hosted the first summit in the EU- Central Asia format at the highest level

    The EU-CA format itself was first initiated in November 2004 with the aim of creating an additional tool for cooperation with the countries of the region.

    Within the framework of the dialogue, the European Union contributes to strengthening stability and security in the Central Asian region, sustainable economic development and improving the standard of living of its population, as well as resolving the situation in Afghanistan.

    The meetings of the EU and Central Asia Special Representatives on Afghanistan are a platform for discussion. Four meetings have been held over the past period.

    During the last meeting on May 25-26, 2023 in Ashgabat, the Special Representatives of the EU and Central Asian countries for Afghanistan adopted a joint statement confirming their strong desire to turn Afghanistan into a stable and prosperous country with long-term prospects for sustainable peace.

    Security cooperation between the EU and Central Asia covers a wide range of issues, in addition to Afghanistan, it includes the fight against transnational threats, terrorism, organized crime, cross-border drug trafficking, illegal migration and other challenges. This is achieved through the exchange of experience, technical assistance, training and joint exercises.

    In particular, the EU and Central Asia are implementing the "Border Management Program in Central Asia" (BOMCA, 2002), and the anti-terrorism project "Law Enforcement Agencies in Central Asia" (LEICA, 2020).

    The BOMCA program was primarily aimed at improving security, combating illicit trafficking and facilitating trade in Central Asia. While the main objective of the LEICA project is to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies of Central Asian countries to ensure security at both the national and regional levels.

    In conclusion, it is worth noting that the active promotion, mutual support and close coordination between Central Asia and the EU in the implementation of joint initiatives, as well as their desire to strengthen practical and mutually beneficial cooperation at the bilateral and regional levels, are one of the fundamental elements for maintaining peace, stability, security and sustainable development throughout the Central Asian region.

    Farkhod Juraev,

    leading researcher

    International Institute of Central Asia.