Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Why not try some creative thinking over Kazakhstan?

Financial Times - November 29th 2006

Sir

Your article on how the European Union can build trade, stability and democracy on its borders ("Brussels to work harder at being a good neighbour", November 27) implies that when the EU extends the trade and aid benefits of this policy to countries such as Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia it expects little immediate in return. Is it not time for the EU to seek practical policy benefits now rather than affection later?

Kazakhstan, a large secular and multi-confessional country, is not yet part of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), but should be - like its ethnic cousin Azerbaijan. Critical to the EU are Kazakhstan's vast oil and gas reserves, which it is anxious to sell to us without depending entirely on Russian pipelines to transport its natural resources.It is in our own strategic interests to diversify our energy security needs away from over-dependence on Russian supplies in future.

The Kazakh diversification policy includes plans to liquefy its natural gas for export via the trans-Caspian route.Another important consideration is the vast potential supply of Kazakh yellow cake uranium, which will be a vital alternative supply for the EU's future nuclear energy needs as the likelihood of expansion of nuclear power plants proceeds in several EU member states as global warming and the need to meet Kyoto targets becomes critical.

Although the Kazakh government thinks that the European Neighbourhood Policy would be an excellent way to do business with the EU, the Commission believes the policy should apply only to countries sharing a land or maritime border with the 25 member states, but forgets that Jordan fulfils neither criterion.Should we not try a little creative thinking and open the door to a country that can genuinely act as a counterweight to an unpredictable energy supplier like Russia?

Charles Tannock
UK Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman
ENP Rapporteur in the European Parliament