1. France was one of the first Western countries to recognize the independence of the nations that make up Central Asia and to establish diplomatic relations with them. For France, just like for the European Union, the attention paid to Central Asia has been increasing with the identification of hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian Basin, making it one of Europe’s future sources of supply, especially in light of the post-11 September 2001 situation. France has embassies in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. France is represented in Kyrgyzstan by its ambassador to Kazakhstan. A diplomatic base, placed under the authority of this latter but directed by a diplomat permanently based in Bishkek, was opened in early September 2004.
2. Our involvement in Afghanistan and the logistical opportunities on which we have been able to rely in Central Asia (stationing of troops in 2002 in Kyrgyzstan, presence of an air detachment in Tajikistan, overflight rights) have caused us to enhance our political dialogue and our political, defence and national security cooperation with the countries of the region. We opened an embassy in Dushanbe in 2002. Our high-level contacts are increasing: the President of the Republic held talks with his Kazakh and Uzbek counterparts in Prague in November 2002 and again with his Kazakh counterpart outside the NATO Summit in Istanbul in June 2004; the Tajik President visited Paris in December 2002, as did the Kazakh President in June 2003 and the Kyrgyz President in October 2003; the Secretary of State visited Central Asia in November 2002, as did the Minister responsible for Foreign Trade in May 2003, the Minister of Industry in November 2004 (Kazakhstan) and the Minister of Defence in June and July 2003 (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan), visiting Tajikistan more regularly.
3. Having said that, along with our European partners, we are showing ourselves to be vigilant with regard to totalitarian deviations and the deteriorating human rights situation. This is particularly true in Turkmenistan, where this deterioration has been condemned by an EU initiative following condemnations issued by the OSCE, the Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations General Assembly (2003 and 2004). In Uzbekistan, we have supported - along with our European partners - the review of the engagement strategy of the EBRD, which decided to suspend almost all of its loans to the public sector and to redirect its activities to promote the fight against poverty and the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. Moreover, we bring individual cases of human rights violations to the attention of the Uzbek authorities on a regular basis.
4. Our trade with the countries of Central Asia is expanding progressively, in particular with those countries that boast a substantial supply of hydrocarbons. Kazakhstan is by far our leading trading partner, followed by Turkmenistan (construction of a refinery in Turkmenbashi, numerous Bouygues projects) and Uzbekistan (projects in the areas of cotton and water). A latecomer to Kazakhstan, Total holds 20.3% of the shares in the Kashagan oil field and hopes to acquire new stakes in the exploitation of offshore fields. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are eligible for the “Emerging Countries Fund” (Réserve Pays Emergents, RPE), which supports development projects.
5. For us, the stability of the Central Asian countries, which are especially exposed to new threats (organised crime, drug trafficking from Afghanistan, terrorism), is a key issue. Held in Paris in May 2003, the Conference on Drug Routes helped raise international awareness of Central Asia’s strategic role in drug trafficking. This is the mindset we have adopted in directing our cooperation with regard to security in the region (appointment for two years of a regional police attaché in Tashkent, assisting Almaty since the summer of 2003, and creation of a post in Dushanbe in the autumn of 2004). We are relaying this cooperation at European Union and OSCE levels focussing on three main lines: enhancing border security (European Border Management for Central Asia - BOMCA - which is entering its third phase with €836,800, increasing funds for the following phase with €8.58 million), combating drug trafficking (Europe’s Central Asia Drug Action Programme - CADAP - with $4.5 million for 2003-2004) and training police forces (the OSCE’s pilot project in Kyrgyzstan).
6. In late 2001, the EU doubled the amount of aid allocated to Central Asia (TACIS programme): it now amounts to €50 million/year and has clear priorities: encouraging reforms and the state of law, enhancing security and border control, supporting the establishment of a legal and regulatory framework that encourages foreign investment and the development of local initiatives. The EU has entered into partnership and cooperation agreements (PCA) with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and, just recently, with Tajikistan. (October 2004).
African Union – Meeting between Laurent Fabius and Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union (03.10.14)
This meeting provided an opportunity to strengthen the close dialogue between France and the African Union on issues relating to peace and security in Africa, notably in the Sahel-Saharan strip and the Central African Republic. Mr. Fabius and Mr. Chergui reaffirmed their shared commitment to supporting the fight against terrorism on the continent.
Africa – Terrorism – Meeting of the African Union (02.09.14)
France welcomes the meeting on September 2 in Nairobi that the African Union Peace and Security Council devoted to the fight against terrorism and violent extremism in Africa, under the chairmanship of Idriss Déby, President of the Republic of Chad, in which it participated.
Golan Heights – Kidnapping of blue helmets (29.08.14)
France condemns the detention by armed groups of 43 Fijian blue helmets deployed within the framework of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights (UNDOF), as well as the surrounding of Filipino blue helmets.
Situation of the Eastern Christians - Communiqué issued by Laurent Fabius and Bernard Cazeneuve (28.07.14)
The situation of the Eastern Christians is unfortunately dramatic. The ultimatum issued to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat facing these people – who have historically been an integral part of the region – by jihadist groups in Iraq as well as Syria and elsewhere.
5+5 dialogue - 11th Meeting of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Western Mediterranean (22.05.14)
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss regional issues and the common challenges faced by the 10 countries – both in the area of security, with the situation in the Sahel-Sahara region, and in the economic field.
Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (28-30.04.14)
The 6th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States took place from April 28 to 30 in Mérida, Mexico. It marked the 20th anniversary of this regional organization of which France has been an associate member since it was established in 1994.
Ibero-American General Secretariat – Election of Ms. Rebeca Grynspan (01.04.14)
France welcomes the unanimous election of Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, former Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica, as head of the Ibero-American General Secretariat.
ECOWAS – Election of the Ghanaian chair (29.03.14)
France congratulates President John Dramani Mahama on his election as chair of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Presidency of the African Union in 2014 (30.01.14)
France warmly congratulates Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, on his election as chairman of the African Union in 2014. It expresses its full trust in the new chairman and wishes him every success in carrying out his mandate.
Support for independent Arab media: CFI, operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, strengthens its position (January 2014)
Canal France International (CFI), the French cooperation agency and media operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently signed two substantial contracts (worth €2.7million) with the European Union to develop projects in support of independent media in the Arab world.
African Union - Presentation of border archives (29.11.13)
These documents concern 45 treaties and maps of countries in West, North and East Africa during the period of 1845-1956.
Laurent Fabius’s participation in the Regional Ministerial Meeting on Border Security (14.11.13)
The challenges posed by trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism concern us all and require more effective control of Libya’s border areas, and more generally the Sahara-Sahel region.
Visit to Paris by José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) (21-22.02.13)
The discussions provided an opportunity to confirm France’s determination to deepen its political relations and strengthen its cooperation with all countries of the region.
“Latin America – a major foreign policy objective” - Op-ed published by Laurent Fabius in the French newspaper Le Figaro (20.02.13)
Starting on February 21, I will travel to three Latin American countries – Colombia, Panama and Peru – to work on revitalizing our relations with this continent. My visit to the region, following those by the president and the prime minister, has a clear purpose: we want to foster a lasting rapprochement with Latin America; this is a major foreign policy objective for us.
Election of Hailemariam Desalegn as chairman of the African Union (28.01.13)
France welcomes the election of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn as chairman of the African Union. It commends the exemplary work of the outgoing presidency held by Benin, notably with respect to Mali, for which it encouraged the mobilization of the African and international community.