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In search of a partner

09.10.2013 10:36

Andrey Nepein

One claps two hands together.

(Tajik proverb)

On the foreign policy arena, fighting is under way between the world's leading powers for influence in Central Asia. On the one hand, the Central Asia as a region rich of mineral deposits and energy resources gives for these countries a lot of opportunities to realize their economic, political and military-strategic interests. On the other hand, it is considered one of the most problematic regions of the world. The threat of global terrorism connected with Islamic radical organizations, the production and export of drugs, the unstable political situation, the activity of separatist and extremist sentiments in society - it is not a complete list of existing problems in Central Asia.

In the region there are several ‘poles' applying efforts to strengthen their positions in the region. Thus, the Western countries under the slogan of their own safety, proclaiming the ideals of freedom and democracy, are actively joining all the processes in the Central Asian region: they help non-governmental organizations, distribute grants, etc.

At first sight, it is difficult to explain this sort of altruism. If in terms of military and strategic interests, the Western countries activities in the region are quite explainable, the political and economic component of their interest is hardly noticeable. Bribing the political elites of Central Asian states in order to deploy their military bases, the Western countries solve the issues of radio-electronic intelligence in the region and create threats to the Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenals by the U.S. tactical aircraft. It happened in the Kyrgyz Republic, as is happening now in Uzbekistan.

It is obvious that the political and economic dividends of these efforts are small enough. The region countries leaders, realizing the lack of prospects of a unipolar cooperation with the West, and recognizing the benefits of the integration processes within the CIS, SCO and the CSTO, try to use the Western 'partners' as a'‘free crib'. Thus, the West is facing the fact that it is too late to promote its influence, and it is time to weaken its competitors by sabotaging their political and economic projects. It appears that in search of an answer to a question about the benefits of the U.S. and its Western allies activities one has to believe that any challenge to the stability of the region plays into its hands. Justifying its presence by its concern about national security and humanism, they derive benefit from the sponsorship of opposition and separatist organizations to inject political tensions in Central Asia.

The second 'force pole' in the region is China. It pursues a different policy. Its main efforts are directed to the economic cooperation. Though the creative role of the Celestial Empire in Central Asia, it is necessary to understand the depth of the process initiated by it. China is the main contractor of major infrastructure projects in the region, but to describe the creative process in general terms, one can see that it is similar to one-sided relationship. In fact, China provides the receiver a loan with which the Chinese workers build a road of Chinese materials, and the customer receives the national debt without the unemployment declines and economic growth ratio. It appears that the Chinese cooperation is much better to PRC than to the Central Asian countries.

There is no doubt that common sense makes China ensure the safety of its investments, so it is interested in the stability of the region. However, as the events of recent years show, at the current stage of development, China is not able to provide military assistance to the allies: its army is in the process of rearmament and has not any serious combat experience. Just now, China's leadership is not ready to be responsible for security of the region, but the military-political situation bids defiance to it.

The third major player in the region is Russia. Surely there will be those willing to criticize Moscow's policy regarding its Central Asian partners. However, both Russian opponents and supporters recognize that for Russia the security in Central Asia is not some abstract condition of compliance with the global balance of power, and the task that borders on the immediate threat to its southern borders. This is caused by geopolitical realities: Russia is not overseas, as the U.S., and is not separated by mountain ranges with easily controlled passes, as China. Interest in the southern neighbors' security, among other explains Russia's aiming for the development and economic independence of the Central Asian countries. The consequence of the benefits created by the partnership with the Russian Federation is the creation of the Joint CIS air defense system, which provides guarding of the Commonwealth borders in the air. In addition, the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have been established, as well as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was signed.

Anyway, the process of cooperation between the Russian Federation and the countries of Central Asia, built on equality and mutual benefit, has been slowly but surely implemented and positively influence the security and stability of the region.