26 mai 2024

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France is moving closer to Central Asia for strong economic partnerships

Image capture ©Élysée - Youtube

Image capture ©Élysée - Youtube Emmanuel Macron and Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev

Emmanuel Macron went to Central Asia to establish new collaborations in the mining and industrial fields.

After the visit to Mongolia, and the invitation of his counterpart Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh to Paris, Emmanuel Macron went to Central Asia to establish new collaborations in the mining and industrial fields.

Emmanuel Macron goes to Kazakhstan then to Uzbekistan. Despite a tense international context, the President landed this Wednesday, November 1 in the morning at Astana airport. He will remain in the Kazakh capital until Thursday, November 2 before heading to Uzbekistan.

Above all, he wishes to imprint France’s political and economic mark there, in order to counter the influence of Russia and China. Upon his arrival, the French President spoke with his counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev before signing contracts in the aeronautics and pharmaceuticals sectors. The objective is to sell flagship products of French industry in these two countries.

Cooperation in the strategic minerals sectors, in geological, pharmaceutical and energy research, was concluded. The joint development of a major wind farm with Total Energies was also agreed between the two presidents, as was the establishment of an industrial partnership – with the Alstom group – and cultural partnership, to promote the French language.

The Elysée also announced the supply of GM 400 military radars manufactured by Thalès “in the service of the sovereignty” of Kazakhstan, which will be assembled in this country sharing more than 7,500 kilometers with Russia and member of a common military alliance.

As the Kazakh Minister of Energy confirmed on Wednesday, EDF is one of the candidates for the project of the first nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan, the construction of which must be confirmed by referendum by the end of the year.

His counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev also insisted on the “need” to give “additional impetus” to relations between Paris and Astana. “France is our key and reliable partner in the European Union,” welcomed the leader, according to a press release from the Kazakh presidential administration.

Critical metals, essential to the energy transition and of which the region is rich, also feature prominently in discussions with Uzbekistan, which is among the main suppliers of uranium to France.

The specialist Orano, which already operates a mine in Kazakhstan, also wants to increase its presence, while Kazakhstan alone produces 43% of total production, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Central Asia is ardently courted by the great powers at a time when Russia is monopolized by its military offensive in Ukraine. In this game of influences, neighboring China, with its major “New Silk Roads” infrastructure project, has taken a head start. But Europe and Turkey are also advancing their pawns, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be in Astana on Friday.

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