"I think the EU will not be able to achieve anything with our Central Asian partners if we do not engage long-term and with the necessary patience,” said Patricia Flor, European Union Special Representative (EUSR) for Central Asia.
Ambassador Flor said the Central Asian governments have a long-term view of transformation. “They take their time, they have a slow pace of reform, and sometimes we would encourage them to actually move faster on some of these issues.”
She said the EUSR’s main task is to establish trust between EU and Central Asia. “The EU and its member states are coming from a different sphere in terms of how we organize governments and governance, our understanding of our basic principles and standards and values,” she said. “Therefore, one of the main tasks is to bridge the different mentalities and cultures in a partnership that looks at common interests and how we can establish trust between each other so that we can then engage in such difficult issues like rule of law or civil society.”
Ambassador Flor said the EU has established itself as a trusted interlocutor for mediation between the five Central Asian countries on issues such as water management, but that political will and the ownership of the Central Asian governments are key to solving these issues. Most of the regional issues are trans-boundary, she said, and require the involvement and coordination of neighboring states and regional and international organizations.
She said there is now EU representation in all Central Asian countries, and an EU-Central Asia high-level security dialogue is to take place for the first time this summer. The EU has committed itself to support three of the six confidence building measures of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan.
The interview was conducted by David Muckenhuber, a consultant based at the International Peace Institute's Vienna office.
David Muckenhuber (DM): Our guest today in the Global Observatory is Patricia Flor, the European Union’s Special Representative (EUSR) for Central Asia. She coordinates EU action in Central Asia and oversees the implementation of the EU strategy for Central Asia. Her mandate, which runs from July 1, 2012 until June 30, 2013, is to promote good relations between the EU and Central Asian countries and to strengthen stability, cooperation, democracy, and respect for human rights in the region. She previously served in Kazakhstan, at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, and as German ambassador to Georgia. Ambassador Flor, thank you for joining us over the phone today in the Global Observatory.
One of the main tasks within your mandate is to oversee the implementation of the EU strategy for Central Asia, which was adopted for the period of 2007 to 2013. How would you evaluate the implementation and success of this strategy so far?
Patricia Flor (PF): First of all, let me clarify that the strategy will not expire. The strategy actually has been reviewed in 2012 and the Council of the EU Foreign Ministers then reaffirmed the validity of the strategy and its main objectives so that it will continue to be in force. The EU foreign ministers added an additional dimension by suggesting the start of a high-level security dialogue between the EU and Central Asia, which is scheduled to take place for the first time this summer. Therefore, no need to worry; the EU has a strategy, it will continue to function, and it does function well.