Due to Central Asia’s strategic and geopolitical location, as well as due to the vicinity with Afghanistan, the 5 ´five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) have become a focal point for Europe’s attention. The region faces several problems, such as drugs, human rights violations, Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, and trafficking in human beings. Other challenges include combatting poverty, the democratization of the region as well as regional water resources management.
On 22 June 2007 the European Council adopted the EU Strategy for Central Asia. It was updated in 2010. This Strategy is the framework within which the relations between the EU and Central Asia develop. The framework covers the areas of democracy, economic development, education, energy, environment and water resources management, good governance, human rights, intercultural dialogue, migration, rule of law, trade and investment, transport. By opening its Embassy in Astana in 2007, Austria asserted its interest in this region. This Embassy is responsible for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The Austrian Embassy for Uzbekistan is located in Vienna. There are also Austrians employed at the various EU, OSCE and UN missions throughout Central Asia.
With regards to specific projects, Austria is involved in the areas of security and measures against drug trafficking, e.g. in the framework of the projects BOMCA and CABSI (originally Austrian initiatives). The relevance of these issues continues to increase also due to the pull-out of ISAF from Afghanistan. Austria is also contributing to programmes regarding the promotion of dialogue and peaceful conflict resolutions – e.g. via the courses offered by the Diplomatic Academy.