1. Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha visited Nur-Sultan, the Republic of Kazakhstan on October 15-16, and attended the 12th Republic of Korea (ROK)-Central Asia Cooperation Forum, an annual consultative mechanism for promoting comprehensive exchanges and cooperation, as well as enhancing friendship between the ROK and five Central Asian countries.
○ The Forum, which was held at the minister level in Central Asia for the first time since its launch in 2007, was attended by about 100 participants including Minister Kang, foreign ministers from the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan, relevant major officials of government delegations and affiliated organizations, scholars and entrepreneurs from the ROK and major Central Asian countries.
2. In their keynote speeches at the opening ceremony, the heads of the ROK and the five Central Asian delegations took note of advanced bilateral relations between the ROK and Central Asia, and exchanged views on the role of the ROK-Central Asia Cooperation Forum and ways forward.
○ In her keynote speech, Minister Kang highlighted that the five Central Asian countries are key cooperative partners of the New Northern Policy led by the ROK government; mentioned that following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992 and launch of the ROK-Central Asia Cooperation Forum in 2007, the third big strides were made by consolidating a regular cooperative system, developing cooperation projects and improving multilateral cooperation in Central Asia. Furthermore, Minister Kang suggested working together in order to make visible achievements discussed at the 12th Forum.
○ The heads of the five Central Asian countries commended that President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in April 2019 as well as Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon’s visit to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan served as a momentum for taking the ROK-Central Asia relations a notch higher, and hoped that the present Forum would serve as a useful discussion platform that could function as an engine for maintaining high-level exchanges between the ROK and Central Asian countries. In particular, they expressed expectation that specific ways for cooperation would come out through the discussions, as four main themes discussed in this Forum (technical standardization, water resources, information technology and green energy) reflected the outcomes of this year’s high-level exchanges between the ROK and Central Asian countries.
○ The heads of the participating countries agreed that the Forum inaugurated in 2007 has developed into a useful multilateral consultative mechanism in which a broad range of bilateral issues are extensively discussed, and commended that the event has contributed to upgrading the bilateral relations to a higher level by facilitating mutually beneficial cooperation between the ROK and Central Asian countries in a range of areas such as energy, water resources, environment, IT, culture, healthcare and medical services, and tourism.
○ The ROK and five Central Asian countries noted with appreciation that the Secretariat of the ROK-Central Asia Cooperation Forum which was established in 2017 has contributed to developing the ROK-Central Asia cooperation by diverse and useful projects in six promising cooperation fields including transportation and logistics; energy and water resources; industrial modernization and diversification; climate change and environment; healthcare and medical services, education, culture and tourism over the last year.
○ On top of that, the participants reached an agreement to hold working-level group meetings in which officials of relevant government agencies from the ROK and five Central Asian countries participate in a bid to specifically and substantially implement the outcomes of the Forum.
○ The participants of the five Central Asian countries reaffirmed their support for the New Northern Policy led by the ROK government, and a peaceful resolution of nuclear issues of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea through a peace process on the Korean Peninsula and dialogue. They added that the recent cooperative mood expanding in the Central Asian region would contribute to completely realizing the potential for mutual cooperation.
3. Going forward, sessions on four topics including technical standardization, water resources, IT and green energy were held, during which the participants discussed specific cooperative means in each area.
○ Each session was attended by experts of the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, the National Information Society Agency and the Korea Institute of Energy Research and experts of agencies in the Central Asian region specialized in industry and telecommunication, standardization and water resources, during which they delivered presentations and had discussions.
4. The delegations wrapped up the 12th Forum by adopting a joint statement that summarized the achievements and results from the discussions at the Forum, and by ratifying a 2020 work plan released by the Secretariat at the closing ceremony.
During the Forum, ROK-Kazakhstan water industry-related business consultations
were held as part of specific deliverables, under the theme “an efficient use
of water resources in Central Asia,” which was discussed in the 11th
Forum in 2018. The consultations served as an opportunity for both the ROK and
Central Asian entrepreneurs engaging in water industry to seek potential