Credit: MAEE

On Thursday 29 June 2023, on the occasion of his official visit to Kazakhstan, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, signed a new memorandum of understanding on air services between the two countries.

This visit was an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations between Luxembourg and Kazakhstan, as well as to explore ways to strengthen them. As such, Minister Asselborn signed a memorandum of understanding on air services which will, among other things, increase the number of weekly Cargolux flights to Kazakhstan from seven to 21. At a ceremony marking the 77th flight to Astana International Airport since 7 May 2023, government ministers and the visiting delegation witnessed the arrival of a Cargolux flight in the presence of leaders of the freight company, Richard Forson, President and CEO, and Maxim Straus, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister signed a second memorandum of understanding on the use and exploration of space for peaceful purposes, which provides for cooperation in the form of joint projects, conferences and an exchange of information and data.

During his visit to Astana, Minister Asselborn also had bilateral meetings with the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murat Nurtleu, Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development, Marat Karabayev, Minister of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, Bagdat Mussin, and the Chairwoman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of Mazhilis of the Kazakh Parliament, Aigul Kuspan.

Discussions during the visit also addressed the political and social situation in Kazakhstan, as well as the human rights situation. Minister Asselborn encouraged his interlocutors to pursue the path of democratic reforms but also acknowledged the efforts made to date.

They also discussed relations between the European Union and Kazakhstan, in particular regarding the implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on a strategic partnership between the EU and Kazakhstan in the field of critical raw materials, as well as issues related to negotiations on a visa facilitation agreement. On this point, Minister Asselborn assured his interlocutors that Luxembourg supported the Kazakh request and that it was ready to raise the issue within the Council of the EU.

Moreover, the visit to Astana was an opportunity for Minister Asselborn to exchange views with his various Kazakh interlocutors on the latest regional developments and the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Luxembourg's Foreign Minister reaffirmed the EU's support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, stressing that Russia's war of aggression constituted a serious violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Minister Asselborn went on to present the measures taken by the EU in response to Russian aggression, in particular with regard to sanctions and the fight against their circumvention, in light of the adoption by the of the eleventh sanctions package at the last Foreign Affairs Council. He also welcomed the will of the Kazakh authorities to implement the necessary measures to avoid circumventing such sanctions; he recalled that European sanctions do not target third countries, while assuring his Kazakh interlocutors that Luxembourg and the EU stand ready to help Kazakhstan meet the challenges posed by the circumvention of European sanctions.