On Friday October 29, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosted leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to discuss strengthening regional and economic cooperation.

Media reports say Olaf Scholz welcomed leaders from the five Central Asian states for their first-ever summit, as EU member states seek to win geopolitical allies in the region.

In Berlin, leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan reportedly discussed strengthening regional and economic cooperation - and the development of the so-called ‘Middle Corridor’ route, connecting the region with Europe.

Turkiye’s Anadolu Agency reports that the leaders announced after the meeting that they have agreed to establish a “strategic regional partnership” between Germany and Central Asia, and vowed to take steps to further strengthen economic ties.

They also welcomed the final report of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which identified the “Central Trans-Caspian Network” as a sustainable transport network.

In a joint statement, all parties reportedly stressed the importance of respecting the global sanctions regime against Russia. 

Central Asian states have often been accused of providing Moscow with supplies it can't obtain due to punitive measures it's facing over the Ukraine war.

Euronews reports that chairwoman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations Catharina Claas-Mühlhäuser called the meeting “historic”, as she proposed five priorities for intensifying cooperation: Energy, raw materials, agriculture, transportation and vocational training.

The meeting with the five Central Asian leaders was the first joint gathering of its kind with an EU country.

Experts note that Germany also has an interest in the energy-rich region as Berlin has been seeking alternative sources of power after its supplies from Russia dried up. 

Some experts consider that Moscow’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine has prompted global powers like China and the European Union to seek a greater role in Central Asia at a time when many in the region are questioning their long-standing ties with Russia.

Recall, Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted the five leaders for a key summit in May, while US President Joe Biden had his first meeting with the Central Asian presidents on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

European Council President Charles Michel has twice visited the Central Asian region since the start of the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine last year.