European Council President Charles Michel is expected Friday in Kyrgyzstan for a "European Union-Central Asia" summit, the second in less than a year, Brussels and countries in this region where Russian influence is contested announced Monday.
The second summit of Central Asian leaders with the President of the European Council will be held on June 2 in the city of Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan," the Kyrgyz presidential administration said Monday.
The main objective is to strengthen relations between Central Asia and the European Union (EU)," following the inaugural summit in late October in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for Michel told AFP.
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For now, the presidents of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have confirmed their participation and are expected to be joined by their counterparts from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Central Asia has been the subject of intense diplomatic ballet since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a former tutelary power which, despite privileged links with the countries of the region, has seen its influence erode.
And the arrival of Charles Michel comes two weeks after an unprecedented summit between the presidents of these five former Central Asian Soviet republics and Xi Jinping's China, which placed Central Asia at the heart of its New Silk Roads, a gigantic economic project.
In addition to Charles Michel and Xi Xinping, the leaders of Russia Vladimir Putin, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken have visited Central Asia in recent months.
While Russia remains the leading regional power, China is strengthening its footprint, while Turkey, the United States and the European Union are actively cultivating relations, as well as to a lesser extent India and Iran.
This renewed interest allows Central Asian countries to diversify their economic partnerships and attract investment to this region rich in natural resources and a bridge for trade between Europe and Asia.
However, they are suspected by the West of helping Russia circumvent the sanctions imposed for its invasion of Ukraine, which they defend.
Central Asia also remains a region of instability, with deadly fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan last year, bloodily suppressed revolts in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and proximity to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.