The European Union (EU) Delegation to Tajikistan says the EU Council adopted guidelines for the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to negotiate, on behalf of the EU and its member states, a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) with Tajikistan.

The EU is reportedly determined to deepen its relations with the Central Asian countries, even more so in the current geopolitical environment.  The negotiation of an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Tajikistan will be a significant step forward in this regard.  It will provide a platform for improved political cooperation, trade and investment between the EU and Tajikistan, incentivizing and supporting reforms.  Progress in these negotiations will also depend on tangible improvements in Tajikistan’s human rights situation, including with regard to the freedom of expression, media and assembly – Mr. Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The new agreement will build on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in force since 2010 and will reflect the ambitions of the EU and Tajikistan to strengthen their bilateral relationship, in the spirit of the 2019 “EU’s Central Asia Strategy - promoting resilience, prosperity and regional cooperation, for the future development of the region."

The EU will negotiate an enhanced agreement that will support Tajikistan’s reform agenda.  Closer and stronger bilateral ties must go hand in hand with adherence to common values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as emphasized by the EU during the Human Rights Dialogue which took place on 7 December 2022 in Dushanbe.

The EU is reportedly committed to continue supporting Tajikistan’s sustainable development, contributing to security, modernization, and creating employment opportunities for the young generation.  Water, energy, the green transition and human development will continue to be joint priorities in mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Tajikistan.

The Strategy on Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), adopted by the European Union in 2019, highlights the growing strategic relevance of the region for EU interests.

In 2016, the EU signed an EPCA with Kazakhstan.  EPCA negotiations have also been successfully concluded with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and work is proceeding to prepare for the entry into force of these new Agreements. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan benefit from favorable access to the EU market, through the unilateral trade preferences of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) or the GSP plus.

The 2019 EU Strategy for Central Asia also underlines that consolidating democratic institutions, empowering citizens and establishing more inclusive political and economic governance structures, promoting the rule of law, strengthening the accountability of public institutions and ensuring respect for human rights are key conditions for the success of sustainable development.  Respect for human rights will therefore remain an essential element of the EU's bilateral relations with the countries of the region, including in our bilateral agreements.

On November 17, 2022, the 18th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting took place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where the EU and Central Asian partners agreed to step up cooperation in areas such as security, trade and investment, transport, green energy and sustainable growth, improved connectivity as well as closer cooperation in education, science and innovation.