During today's Conference you talked about “quality of life” and “social sustainability” as key factors to promote connectivity in Central Asia region: can the European Union be a model for this?
R: I think we, as European Union, can certainly be a sort of inspiration but we are not going to impose ourselves, we have to share our experience; furthermore I think there is actually a lot of appetite in Kazakhstan and also in the other Central Asian countries for more of Europe, for more of participation and for learning more from our experience. That does not mean that necessarily everything would be just absorbed or accepted as it is but there is a strong interest, even a thirst for more Europe, which has been a very pleasant and very inspiring experience for me in my first seven months in Kazakhstan.
What can be in your opinion the role of youth in promoting connectivity in and out Kazakhstan, but more in general in the Euro-Asian region?
R: Youth is the key to the future, this goes for Europe but it goes in particular for Central Asia because of the demographic situation. There is also a certainly very strong interest from young people in Central Asia to learn more about Europe, to study in Europe, to learn European languages, not only English…this is also connectivity: connectivity is not only about transports and energy, it is about people-to-people contact, it is about facilitated movements across the borders. We have in Kazakhstan, but more in general in Central Asia, an extremely good possibility, again, not to tell them what to do but to share our experience and I am sure they are also capable of making best possible use of that n the context of their own reality. Indeed, there is a strong interest, willingness and eagerness to learn more about and from Europe, to have closer contacts with Europe but is goes particularly for young people, so whatever we can do in terms of student and academic exchanges, research cooperation, tourism promotion I hope that we would be able to launch also negotiations on a Visa facilitation agreement which is one of the priorities that Kazakhstan has put on the Agenda for quite some time. As soon as possible we should try to open-up and to facilitate those exchanges which are so important not only for Central Asia but for us as well.
(interview to Ambassador Carlsson was released at Ca' Foscari University, April 8th 2019, during the Conference "Monitoring Central Asia and the Caspian Area. Development policies, regional trends, and Italian interests")