— How do you assess the contribution of Nursultan Nazarbayev in the development of relations between the European Union and post-Soviet space?
— I think that the role of Mr. Nazarbayev was crucial and very positive, not only in the development of Kazakhstan, which is currently the average economic power, if to speak globally, but also closely linked to domestic economic development and also with the positioning of Kazakhstan on the world stage.
It is very important that
your country became the most powerful partner in negotiations between the European Union and Central Asia
The European Union is, in fact, this is a small area on the outskirts of the Eurasian continent. On the other side of the Eurasian continent from you – China, Korea, Japan, so between these two blocks you have a very large area, and it is imperative that a peaceful and strong leader took the initiative to structure this territory after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
— How do you see cooperation in the long term between the European Union and developing countries the post-Soviet space?
— European Union (EU) must do more. I think that the EU already holds a fairly strong neighbourhood policy, but he needs to invest more in the relationship and interaction with its neighbors, Russia, Balkans, Belarus and of course with Turkey.
Need to go beyond these relations, and to invest more in strengthening ties with the countries of Central Asia, where Kazakhstan is the leader.
photo: press service of the IMEP
Being the Deputy Secretary General of the OECD a few years ago, I witnessed a strong economic development of Kazakhstan, based on its huge natural resources, the desire to become part of the world community from the point of view of free trade, industrial and economic development.
Thus, Kazakhstan is really catching up with other developed countries and will play an even more important role in the international community. Therefore, the strengthening of cooperation with Kazakhstan not only in the interests of Kazakhstan and European Union.
— What contribution can the European Union in creating a single pan-Eurasian community?
Asia is currently the only continent without the prefix “pan” which would include the entire organization in the region. So, I think there
Kazakhstan together with Russia has a special role in structuring the vast Eurasian territory
and the European Union could become a very good partner in this business. And most importantly, through strong economic relations, culture, openness.
To some extent we are all different, for example, the Kazakhs and the Belgians are different, but we have a lot of common values, we share a common commitment to a stronger socio-economic development, environmental protection, rational use of resources and so on. We have a common agenda and partnership which should be strengthened.
— As Prime Minister of Belgium, you tried to create a coalition to avoid demarcation along ethnic lines. What experiences would you share with Kazakhstan is a multinational country?
— There is a “watershed”, a clear boundary – cultural and linguistic passing through Belgium. There is a dividing line through Europe between the Latin, Scandinavian and Germanic countries.
When Belgium was created, it was a kind of diplomatic solution, we did not have a strong shared history. Thus, in the history of Belgium it is very important that despite the lack of consensus at a certain point, we have always managed to reach agreements.
Therefore, it is necessary to invest in reconciliation, to be open to mutual points of view. I think it’s extremely important to build the nation. And I am sure that the leadership of Kazakhstan, a country with such a vast area, which is about 90 times the size of Belgium, with a population of 18 million, takes into account the diversity and trying to bring people together, with the full understanding and respecting differences.
— Is it possible to do something else?
— I think it is necessary to create control structures aimed at integration. No matter what assignment is made, no matter what governance model was not created, they tend to consider all points of view and provide a fair position, real opportunity to Express these views and to participate in the decision-making process.
We have in Belgium a very strong culture that we call federalism. This means that the power comes from all of the regions that comprise Belgium. We have a Federal Constitution, which indicated that the components of the Belgium regions, with different origins and cultural traditions, speak different languages, now have certain powers to organize themselves and influence on education, culture and other areas of policy.
But they always work together when necessary to protect the General welfare of the state, the nation and citizens. So
it is important to maintain a good balance between the recognition of ethnic diversity, on the one hand, and at the same time, Association and the desire to strengthen the capacity of the whole nation, on the other hand.
— How, in your opinion, the modern European policy in the East meets the strategic objectives of the European Union?
— The European Union needs security and stability. Of course, internally it’s guaranteed by the contract. And I think that in this respect, the European Union is perhaps one of the most impressive examples from the point of view of the establishment of continuing peace on the European continent, which was destroyed in the terrible wars in the twentieth century.
But to achieve sustainable peace, we also need to get along with other powers and States, so the contribution to the establishment of peaceful relations between the European Union, Central Asia and Turkey, Russia, the countries of North Africa is critical.
You can’t achieve stability on its own territory, for example, in the European Union or Central Asia unless you have built regulated relations with neighboring powers.
Thus, the European Union and Central Asia must constantly cooperate in order to strengthen the peace agreement and whenever there are potential conflicts, to come together and collectively make the decision.
— How do you assess the relations between the European countries, taking into account the protracted Breccia, as well as discussion and debate on this issue?
— Of course, very upset that a member of the European Union – Britain, has always held a special place in European integration, with a small majority in a referendum at some point decided to leave the EU.
Let’s face it, is a step back. But this will not prevent the European Union to continue integration and to strengthen cooperation. This is vital not only for the countries-members of EU, but all over the world.
There are tendencies to separation, to the separation, and it goes against the General interests of the citizens in Europe, the European Union, as well as in Kazakhstan and other countries of the world. I hope, therefore, that Pexit is still a kind of exception to the General trend towards closer relations and cooperation in the world.
— Do you share the concern about the possible withdrawal of other countries from the EU?
— At some point there was a certain fear that other member States of the European Union to follow the example of great Britain. Fortunately, this did not happen. Throughout the process, very frustrating process Bracito, we saw that the 27 other EU members have always been United in what situation they would go.
Of course, we see in some countries is gaining momentum populism. For example, in Italy or even Spain and France have populist parties which in their programs have objectives for exit from the European Union. But I am quite convinced that despite the populist trend, we will overcome these problems that are in principle resolvable.
You know, we went through very difficult times, think about the financial crises. Now the positive point is that we see more bold and wise reaction of politicians and voters on the European continent compared to what happened in the twentieth century, when, in 1939, the stock market collapsed.
In the end, it ended the horrible world war. Now we are going through very deep financial crisis, which was comparable to the effects of stock market crash. But the reaction to the situation more reasonable. Of course, we have to solve the problem, we should deal with the grievances of citizens, populism. We need fairer distribution of wealth among citizens – the level of inequality is high now!
When we see that the European Union does not fulfill obligations, should improve strengths, develop more accessible to all segments of the population policy. So we have a lot of “home” work.
But I am absolutely convinced that the European Union will overcome the problems of populism, which to some extent aimed at the separation of Nations, the division of such a wonderful project as the European integration.
— How do you assess the cooperation between the countries of Europe with Central Asia in the context of the ongoing EU sanctions against Russia?
— EU sanctions against Russia connected with what is happening in the Donbas. This is contrary to all international global rules. I think it is very important that the European Union follows a strategy of protection based on the principles of multilateralism.
After the Second world war with the participation of the UN we all agreed on the General rules, but Russia is acting against these rules, therefore, the international community had to respond.
I think now we need to put a bit more diplomatic and peaceful efforts to
try to negotiate with Russia and to some point, to lift the sanctions in the interests of Russians, citizens of the EU and Kazakhstan
The certificate of the speaker:
YVES LETERME Prime Minister of Belgium (2008, 2009-2011), General Secretary of the international democratic Institute IDEA (2014-2018). Born on October 6, 1960.
In 1981, studied law at the Catholic University of Leuven. After that, he entered the University of Ghent, from which he graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a year later received a master’s degree in legal Sciences, and in 1985 the degree of master of public administration.
The Federal government has held the positions of Vice-Minister and Minister of budget, transport and institutional reforms, before becoming Prime Minister in 2008. Re-entered the government in 2009 as foreign Minister, and again took the post of Prime Minister on 25 November of the same year. During his tenure as Prime Minister of Belgium presided over the European Union.
In 2014-2018 occupied the post of General Secretary at the International Institute for democracy and electoral assistance (International IDEA). Fluent in Dutch, French and English.