Central Asia

Cooperation in education, research and technology with the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan forms a central pillar in relations between Germany and Central Asia.

The basis for the wide-ranging and growing cooperation between Germany and Central Asia is the intergovernmental agreement on scientific and technical cooperation (STC) signed in 1987, which is still regarded as valid by the Central Asian successor states to the Soviet Union. Additional bilateral STC agreements were signed with Kazakhstan in 1995 and Uzbekistan in 1998.

The superordinate framework is provided by the EU strategy 'The EU and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership', to which Germany was a key contributor, and the German Government's Internationalization Strategy for science and research.

Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research signed a declaration of intent with the Committee for Coordination of Science and Technology Development under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan (KKEWT) in 2012. This declaration has regularly served as the basis for funding measures for bilateral projects. In addition to their scientific importance, collaborations with Central Asia are currently gaining in strategic relevance as this is one of the world's regions which are both developing very dynamically and are highly sensitive in geopolitical terms. Most countries in the region are extremely interested in expanding scientific and technological cooperation, particularly also with Germany. The Ministry aims to take advantage of the opportunities this creates to increase its strategic science cooperation.

Key Areas of Cooperation

In implementing Germany's research interests, the Federal Research Ministry is supporting numerous universities and research establishments in a variety of ways in their cooperation with Central Asia. Attention is focused on funding mechanisms which are precisely targeted at the research competences of partner countries in particular fields.

As a key instrument for promoting cooperation between German and Central Asian research institutions, the Ministry regularly publishes calls for proposals to promote partnerships for sustainable solutions to problems in developing and emerging economies under the title of 'Research for Development'. Under this measure, it supports research cooperation projects between German research institutes and universities and all the countries of Central Asia. The projects are expected to focus on regional measures to design and plan research projects, build research capacities in the partner institutions in Central Asia (and the Southern Caucasus) and enhance qualification measures for young, male and female scientists. The calls specifically aim at developing strategic regional networks and establishing lasting partnerships by means of research dialogues and exchanges of scientists.

The Ministry's bilateral research cooperation benefits both scientifically and institutionally from the multilateral context of the EU project 'STI International Cooperation Network for Central Asian Countries' (IncoNet CA). The Ministry is a participant in this EU project, which is ultimately aimed at improving research cooperation between the EU and Central Asia on a lasting basis. In this context, the Ministry is participating in the call for proposals for a support measure entitled 'Twinning Grants' to promote cooperation between Central Asian and European research institutions within the framework of Horizon 2020. The call is open until 2016.

Highlights of Bilateral Cooperation

Germany and Uzbekistan regularly publish joint calls for pro

Yurt in Kasachstan
Traditional yurt in the steppe of Kasachstan. © Thinkstock

posals to fund bilateral projects and sustainable partnerships between institutions on the basis of the above-mentioned agreement between the Federal Research Ministry and the KKEWT.

The Ministry held a German science day in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent under the motto 'Partners for the Future'. This event introduced a broad public to the German research and science system, the many possibilities of support offered for international cooperation as well as successful examples of German-Uzbek cooperation.

The Ministry organized visits to Germany by delegations of Kazakh university rectors in 2013 and 2014 in the follow-up to the signing of an agreement on higher education cooperation between Kazakhstan and Germany during German Science Day in Almaty in 2010 and the establishment of Germany as the main European partner in education and research. Visits to several German research and development institutions led to the expansion of the existing basis for cooperation; they also helped to provide information about German know-how in this field, as well as to expand the German-Kazakh network of contacts.