UK MPs/Peers have a wide-ranging roundtable discussion with Central Asia Ambassadors
Chaired by the BGIPU Treasurer Alex Sobel MP, UK parliamentarians participated in an informative virtual roundtable briefing with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the UK, HE Mr Erlan Idrissov, the Ambassador of the Krygyz Republic to the UK, HE Mr Edil Baisalov, the Ambassador of Mongolia to the UK, HE Mr Tulga Narkhuu and a representative of the Embassy of Tajikistan on behalf of its Ambassador. Ambassadors welcomed the timely opportunity to speak with UK parliamentarians, with the former-Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan celebrating 30 years of independence in 2021.
The meeting was a great opportunity for UK Parliamentarians to hear first-hand accounts of political, social and economic developments in the Central Asia region, with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan both having recently undergone changes of leadership, Tajikistan having held presidential elections in October 2020, and Mongolia preparing for presidential elections in June 2021. Ambassadors provided updates on the impacts of COVID-19 and updates on their country’s vaccine rollout programmes. MPs and Peers welcomed the news that each country had procured vaccinations from several sources which would ensure that process would meet their population’s needs.
Discussions covered a wide range of topics including regional developments in Central Asia, including economic relations with China and the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative in the region and energy partnerships with Russia. With all four states being landlocked, the Ambassadors were keen to emphasise that while their states are keen to develop closer ties with the West, geopolitics means that they are naturally drawn towards Russia, China and India. Moreover, as landlocked countries, the development of infrastructure for connectivity is a priority, and these opportunities are at present, being provided by China through the Belt and Road Initiative. Despite this, UK parliamentarians were pleased to hear about Mongolia’s “third neighbour” policy which recognises that while Russia and China are key strategic partners, the UK, US and EU act as a third pillar to balance foreign relations.
In addition, key bilateral issues including in the context of the UK’s hosting of the COP26 meeting on climate change in Glasgow in November 2021 were discussed. Parliamentarians were grateful for the opportunity to hear about this wide range of issues in an in-depth and exclusive briefing. BGIPU would like to thank the three Ambassadors and Embassy representative for taking the time to speak to UK parliamentarians and for their informative presentations and engagement in the discussion. In addition, BGIPU would like to thank the London Embassies for their assistance in coordinating a very valuable event.