Hello and welcome to the details of Kazakhstan welcomes France’s Macron under Moscow’s disapproving gaze and now with the details
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan November 1, 2023. — Press service of the President of Kazakhstan handout pic via Reuters
ASTANA, Nov 1 — French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Kazakhstan today on the first leg of a trip to Central Asia, a region long regarded as Russia’s backyard which has drawn fresh Western attention since the war in Ukraine began.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan has already emerged as a replacement supplier of crude to European nations turning off Russian supply and an important link in the new China-Europe trade route bypassing Russia.
At a meeting with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Macron complimented Astana for refusing to side with Moscow on Ukraine and said the two countries planned to sign significant business deals.
“We will be able to make progress on important international matters, underscore our commitment to the United Nations charter and principles such as territorial integrity and national sovereignty,” he said through an interpreter.
Russia has voiced concern at the West’s growing diplomatic activity in former Soviet Central Asian nations. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week the West was trying to pull Russia’s “neighbours, friends and allies” away from it.
“I do not underestimate by any means the pressure that some actors may be putting on you,” Macron told Tokayev. “France highly values our friendship. We follow the path of friendship.”
“This is the path for your country which refuses to be a vassal of any powers, and wants to maintained balanced relations with different countries in the interest of your people. Such a strategy is close to France.”
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where Macron goes next, have refused to recognise Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories and have pledged to abide by Western sanctions against Moscow, while calling both Russia and Western nations such as France their strategic partners.
“We respect our friends ... we respect their independence,” Macron said. “And if there are powers who want to become hegemons or who are unpredictable, it is very important to have friends who act from this philosophical position.”
In addition to oil, Kazakhstan is a major exporter of uranium, and France’s Orano already operates a joint venture with its state nuclear firm Kazatomprom.
“We can call your visit historic, very important,” Tokayev told Macron. — Reuters
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