Tuesday December 05, 2023
Eyeing Moscow, Berlin seeks closer ties to Central Asian states
Published : 29 Sep 2023, 23:16
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is welcoming the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to a summit in Berlin on Friday, in a bid to draw closer to the former Soviet republics, reported dpa.
The gathering aims to counter Russian influence on the Central Asian states, amid the Kremlin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
There are fears that some in the region are enabling Moscow to evade Western economic sanctions.
Scholz is meeting the Central Asian heads in this format for the first time. There will be bilateral talks and a joint working dinner focussed on deepening trade and strategic relations.
The region is rich in natural resources, but some of these states are subject to criticism on their human rights record.
Gas-rich Turkmenistan, for example, is governed in a dictatorship that has been compared to North Korea.
Ahead of their meeting with Scholz, the leaders are due to meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier for breakfast.
Scholz already met Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Thursday. The German leader praised efforts made by Kazakhstan to stop the circumvention of sanctions against Russia.
It was "good and helpful" that the Kazakh government had taken countermeasures, the chancellor said.
Exports from Central Asian states to Russia have increased, in some cases significantly, since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. That spike is fuelling fears that Western companies are using these countries to evade sanctions on Russia.