As part of a broader outreach to Central Asia, the Vice President of the European Commission (EC), Mr. Margaritis Schinas, paid official visit to Tajikistan on January 16. Vice President Schinas met with Prime Minister of Tajikistan Qohir Rasoulzoda, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sirojiddin Muhriddin, and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Sherali Kabias to discuss the priorities of cooperation between Tajikistan and the European Union (EU). In his interview with Asia-Plus, Mr. Schinas told about the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, contribution education in Tajikistan and common values.
Q. What issues will be in the focus of attention during the visit to Tajikistan of Mr. Margaritis Schinas, who leads the policy of the European Union on the promotion of the European way of life?
A. My visit to Tajikistan was part of a broader visit to all the Central Asia countries and an important opportunity to exchange on EU-Tajikistan cooperation. My visit is also a signal of the EU’s vision and commitment to launch a deeper partnership with Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a key partner for the EU in Central Asia and we are determined to continue our strong cooperation in priority areas, such as green and digital economy, human development, and Natural Resources Management.
The main focus of the visit to Tajikistan was connectivity in the context of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy. In particular, we zoomed in on transport, digitalization and the water-energy nexus.
On transport, we discussed the upcoming Investors Forum for EU-Central Asia Transport Connectivity on 29-30 January, which will kick-start the process for implementing and coordinating investments along the Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor. On digitalization, we explored opportunities for closer cooperation on satellite connectivity between the EU and Tajikistan in order to accelerate the digital transformation of the country. Such cooperation would take place in the framework of our regional Team Europe Initiative on Digital Connectivity. On the water-energy nexus, we discussed the ongoing reforms of the energy and water sectors as well as priority projects, such as the Rogun hydropower plant.
Q. Will the education of Tajik youth in Europe be discussed during this visit? What new opportunities will the EU offer to Tajik students in this regard?
A. The education sector is a priority sector of cooperation between the European Union and Tajikistan. The EU has been supporting actively the Government of Tajikistan in the reform of the education sector over the last seven years, investing more than 95 million euros. The funds were allocated for projects that are helping Tajikistan to modernize the general secondary education and Vocational Education and Training systems in order to provide quality education and to equip the Tajik boys and girls with knowledge, skills and competences that will help them to enter the world of work and to become active citizens.
Tajik students also apply and participate in the Erasmus+ program which is the main EU program supporting education, training, youth and sport in Europe and across the world. The program and its predecessors has been opened for Tajikistan since 2004 and I am pleased to see a great interest from the Tajik side. Only in the last round of the program (2015-2020), 17 Universities’ projects were implemented, 278 Tajik universities’ staff and students benefited from short-term mobility and 26 Tajik young people received full scholarships for Master Degrees. I am happy to announce that the National Erasmus+ Office is in the process of re-opening and that Tajik students and Universities will be able to receive first-hand information on the opportunities the program provides.
Q. To what extent can the European way of life and the traditional Tajik life be brought closer to each other, and what should be done for this purpose?
A. At the heart of the European way of life are the values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These are universal values, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. The global human rights system belongs to every individual in every country, and therefore we are eager to work with partner countries across the globe, like Tajikistan, to advance the common values of human rights, democracy, rule of law, tolerance and peace.
We have utmost respect for the Tajik way of living and its traditions, and believe that Europe and Tajikistan have a lot of values in common – there is more that unites us than separates us. Through more cooperation, we could bring our people even closer to each other and foster mutual understanding, respect and values.
Mr. Margaritis Schinas (born July 28, 1962) is a Greek politician and former civil servant. He took office in December 2019 as a vice-president in the Von der Leyen Commission with the portfolio of European Commissioner for Promoting European Way of Life. A member of the New Democracy party, he previously was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2007 to 2009 and served as chief spokesperson of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019, and as a deputy director-general of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Communication between 2015 and 2019.
Source: Asia Plus