Kazakhstan and France signed number of agreements on mining and energy

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French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his intention to deepen cooperation with Kazakhstan during his official visit to Astana. Macron noted the significance of this strategically chosen direction during a press conference, Deutsche Welle reports on November 1.

During his meeting with Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Macron expressed his support for Astana's policy of not supporting Moscow in its invasion of Ukraine. He emphasized that he doesn't underestimate the pressure that various actors can exert on Kazakhstan. He stated, "We are taking the path of friendship. It is your country's path, which refuses to be a vassal of any state and wants to maintain balanced relations with different countries in the interests of your people. Such a strategy is close to France," Reuters quoted Macron.

He expressed confidence that the two sides could "make progress on important international issues, emphasize their commitment to the UN Charter, and principles of territorial integrity and national sovereignty." Macron also emphasized that his country "respects its friends" and their independence, stating, "If there are states that want to become hegemons or are unpredictable, it is very important to have friends who act from this philosophical position."

In response, Tokayev called Macron's visit "historic" and "very important," characterizing France as a key and reliable partner in the EU. He added that while cooperation between Kazakhstan and France is dynamically developing, it is necessary to give it an additional impetus.

During their talks, Macron and Tokayev signed several contracts in various sectors, including mining, energy, pharmaceuticals, and aerospace. Among the discussions was the potential involvement of the French energy company Électricité de France S.A. (EDF) in the construction of Kazakhstan's first nuclear power plant, the decision on which will be determined by a referendum. A significant part of the negotiations revolved around the extraction of critical minerals required for clean energy technologies.

Kazakh Prime Minister Alihan Smaiylov noted that Macron's visit will provide a new impetus to the further development of the strategic partnership between Astana and Paris. Kazakhstan's Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliyev discussed expected agreements on the further development of uranium deposits in the country through the joint venture "KATKO," where "Orano Mining" holds a 51% stake. "Today, cooperation within the joint venture 'KATKO' will be discussed, where 'Orano Mining' owns 51%," he said.

The joint venture "Kazakhstan-France 'KATKO'" was established in 1996. It involves the National Atomic Company "Kazatomprom" and "Orano Mining." The joint venture is engaged in uranium mining using in-situ recovery in the northern part of Block No. 1 (South) and at Block No. 2 (Tortkuduk) of the Moinkum deposit in the Turkistan Region.

In 2022, the trade turnover between France and Kazakhstan reached €5.3 billion (approximately $5.6 billion), with Kazakhstan supplying around 40% of France's uranium needs.

France is the fifth-largest foreign investor in Kazakhstan and is actively involved in projects such as the development of the Kashagan offshore oil field through the TotalEnergies group.

Astana is the first stop of Macron's trip to Central Asia, followed by a visit to Uzbekistan.

CentralasianLIGHT.org

November 1, 2023