PARIS, Jan 7 (Reuters) – The European Commission offered to help Kazakhstan where it can to resolve the crisis developing in the Central Asian republic which started with protests in response to a fuel price rise, the head of the Commission said on Friday.
“I am monitoring the situation in Kazakhstan with a lot of concern,” Ursula von der Leyen told reporters at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “We offer our assistance where we can.”
The French president and the head of the European Commission said they were concerned about the deadly clashes in Kazakhstan during a joint press conference in Paris on Friday, calling for restraint amid a deadly crackdown on protesters.
France’s Emmanuel Macron said he would continue to monitor developments in the former Soviet country, where President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Friday he had given shoot-to-kill orders to security forces.
The Kazakhstan uprising began as protests in oil-rich western regions against the removal of state price caps for butane and propane, but the protests then intensified and spread, with several deaths reported.
Macron and von der Leyen’s press conference at the Elysée Palace marked the start of France’s six-month presidency of the EU.
The French president has announced an ambitious agenda for the 27-member bloc, stressing that 2022 “must be a turning point for Europe”.
Analysts say the rotating EU presidency could serve his domestic campaign for a second term in office, with less than 100 days to go before France’s presidential election.
Photo – Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, during the inaugural meeting of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU in Paris. EC Audiovisual Service.
Via France 24/Reuters