The EU announced on Sunday a 72 million euros investment program in the areas of environment, energy, gender equality and education across six countries in Central Asia.

The announcement was made by Vice-President of the EU Commission, Federica Mogherini, at a ministerial meeting in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan.

"The positive regional dynamics in Central Asia and a demand for closer cooperation with the European Union presents a significant opportunity for a closer, stronger partnership," Mogherini said.

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan will benefit from this investment, the European Commission said.

It underpins the implementation of a strategy in the region that was adopted in June 2018.

"Our new Strategy for the region will enable us to cooperate more closely with the countries of Central Asia in tackling the challenges they face: from sustainable development to economic diversification, strengthening civil society and human rights to providing expertise and financial support for reform processes.

"We are ready to build on the enormous momentum gained over the last five years, as a consistent and reliable partner, to foster resilience, prosperity and regional cooperation," the Italian High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy added.

The 72 million euros of the programs will be added to the more than 1 billion euros already provided by the EU in bilateral and regional aid for Central Asia for the 2014-2020 period.

The EU will invest in particular 20 million euros in a new hydroelectric plant in Tajikistan; 2 million in the economic empowerment of women in the region, especially in Afghanistan; 36 million in the education sector in Kyrgyzstan; and almost 14 million in inclusive sustainable growth.

In addition, the EU is preparing other programs in the areas of sustainable development in Uzbekistan, interregional trade, health and the fight against terrorism through technological assistance.

"The EU's contribution worth 72 million euros boosts our strong partnership with Central Asia, for the benefit of our citizens," Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said.

"Together with national governments, civil society and the private sector we will work to create opportunities and shared prosperity, while protecting our planet for future generations," Mimica added. EFE