Germany minister wants Central Asia reforms

31st October 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 October 2006, Astana (dpa) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a five-nation tour of Central Asia called for comprehensive political reforms in the region.

31 October 2006

Astana (dpa) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a five-nation tour of Central Asia called for comprehensive political reforms in the region.

Speaking in the Kazakh capital of Astana, Steinmeier said increased German investment in the region would depend on greater advances in the rule of law.

After talks with government officials, the German official said that Kazakhstan more than its neighbours had struck out on a path towards political openness, which Steinmeier said contributed to the country's "adventuresome upswing."

Rich in oil and gas, Kazakhstan has seen double-digit economic growth in the recent past.

Two months before the German presidency of the European Union, Steinmeier is sounding out whether the Union should formulate a new Central Asian policy.

In addition, the EU is making closer cooperation dependent on improvements in the human rights situation.

So far, Steinmeier has met with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov and Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev as well as representatives of the estimated 230,000 to 360,000 ethnic Germans living in the country.

A meeting with the President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who since 1991 has enjoyed absolute power, is not expected.

Topics for the talks included Kazakhstan's candidacy for the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2009.

The United States and Britain have asked the country to delay its chair until 2011, which Tokayev has refused. Berlin is making its support contingent on political reforms.

Steinmeier has said he would support Kazakhstan's acceptance into the World Trade Organization, the negotiations for which are in their final phase and should be decided in early 2007.

According to Steinmeier, Kazakhstan is interested in participating in the European Galileo satellite system. German companies also have much to the country's in its oil and gas industry as well as its infrastructure.

DPA

Subject: German news

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