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EU's Eastern Neighbours and Central Asia

Danish development activity in Central Asia and the EU’s eastward neighbouring countries focuses in particular on political and economic stability and the promotion of democracy and human rights

Danish development cooperation encompasses the countries bordering the EU to the east and the south east in the form of the Neighbourhood Programme as well as countries of Central Asia. Denmark works for stability and the strengthening of the democratisation process.  

The Neighbourhood Programme

The Neighbourhood Programme is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ development  assistance programme for the EU’s neighbouring countries. Through this programme Denmark is working to further open, democratic states based on the rule of law and stable political and economic development in our neighbourhood countries.

Danish development assistance has special focus areas that include strengthening the human rights of vulnerable groups such as refugees and minorities, combating illegal migration, reform and strengthening of the public sector, the development of civil society and more social equality, business development and job creation and the promotion of media that are free and independent. Approximately DKK 200 million a year is granted in support of the Neighbourhood Programme.

The Neighbourhood Programme contributes to the avoidance of new dividing lines between the EU and its neighbours and underpins Denmark’s foreign policy prioritisation concerning a peaceful, stable Europe that is making progress. Through the Neighbourhood Programme Denmark also contributes to conflict resolution with a view to preventing ethnic and national conflicts in the neighbourhood area and to ensuring that refugees and the internally displaced can return.

Central Asia

Long-term stability and peace in Central Asia presupposes regional cooperation. Denmark is working to strengthen democratic values and institutions in the region. This is to safeguard the representation of the Central Asian populations and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Between 2009 and 2012 the Danish government is concentrating its development activity in the Central Asian states on human rights and democracy interventions and on conflict prevention. Approximately DKK 6 million is granted every year to support minor projects in Central Asia.  

Results of Danish development cooperation

Danish development work in the EU’s neighbouring countries facilitates the following, for example:

  • Strengthened vocational education programmes, increased employment and promotion of economic development with a point of departure in agriculture, which has been a significant focus area in countries such as Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia. 
  • Combating human trafficking in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. The project focuses on preventive activities, on enforcement of the law, and building the capacity of authorities and civil society organisations
  • Under a regional media programme in Belarus, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, Denmark supports strengthening a free press and independent media and also supports building up national capacity and enhanced regional exchange.

From neighbour to member of the EU

The challenges in the countries in the Neighbourhood Programme are linked to the need for economic reforms, combating corruption and organised crime, legal reforms and gradual rapprochement to EU standards, for example the standards for food security.

Many countries desire EU membership. It will, therefore, also be a priority in Danish foreign policy to make a contribution to continued stabilisation and positive political, economic and social development in the whole region that can further the countries’ reform processes and rapprochement to the EU.  

Respect  for human rights in Central Asia

In the coming years Denmark will intensify its bilateral development activity in Central Asia. The intention is to emphasise the promotion of respect for human rights, democratisation and good governance.

Such interventions will hopefully pave the way for more democratic decision-making processes, political stability and economic progress. A special effort will be made to counteract radicalisation in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.  

The region’s apparent stability covers up a number of potential crises due to the risk of internal and regional conflicts, terrorism, further violations of human rights and transnational crime. 

The EU’s eastern neighbours and Central Asia

Denmark’s development cooperation in the EU’s neighbouring countries eastwards encompasses Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The following countries are represented in the Neighbourhood Programme:

  • Albania 
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
  • Montenegro
  • Moldova
  • Serbia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

In Central Asia Denmark cooperates in particular with: