Russia’s Policy of Integration in Central Asia
With the beginning of V. Putin’s third term presidency Russia started its new approach towards Central Asian States. Russia’s increased interest was its desire to assert a presence in areas in which Moscow had little involvement during V. Putin’s previous (first and second) presidency periods. Especially Russia has in the last two years showed interest in restoring its dominance over Central Asia. The Russian political leadership has been always thinking of Central Asia as a sphere of Russian dominance. This perception has been firm in Russia since the beginning of the independence of the Central Asian states. But today, Russia’s top priority is to persuade as many countries as possible to join the Customs Union.
Mukhit B. Assanbayev is a senior lecturer of International Relations at Suleyman Demirel University, Almaty, Kazakhstan. He worked as the president of the Center for Social and Humanitarian Research “Aspect M”, vice-president of Kazakhstan Center for Humanitarian and Political trends, director’s advisor at Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Research under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, research fellow at the Institute for Development of Kazakhstan. He is the author of several books and more than 60 scientific publications in Kazakhstan and abroad, over 12 years of professional experience in international relations and political science.
But only Belarus and Kazakhstan are the most vulnerable states to have done so. Being out of law in the West, Belarus political leadership is incapable both economically and politically to refuse. Kazakhstan’s location between Russia and China also resulted in the vulnerability of Kazakh foreign policy in regard to Russian dominance. Astana has to get along with Russia. But the other Central Asian countries of the region resist, because a Customs Union with Russia would force them to challenge their economic interests, hindering their political sustainability and relationship with other countries. On the other hand, the Central Asian countries’ opposition to a Customs Union with Russia reflects their growing worry for their political future.
What are Russia’s main foreign policy goals in the former Soviet Central Asian states? What is the threat of Russian domination to the independence of Kazakhstan? The paper is devoted to analysis of the continuing evolution of the contemporary Russian foreign policy that shapes Russia’s regional and international behavior. It will also attempt to assess the impact and consequences of the contemporary Russian foreign policy to Kazakhstan.
Russia’s integrationist approach
In the recent years, Russia has been pursuing an ambitious foreign policy toward Central Asian republics, resulting creation of supranational bodies with full participation of Belarus and Kazakhstan and with possible participation of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In fact, Kazakhstan is the first Central Asia republic that appears to be immersed fully in Russia’s integrationist aspirations. Kazakhstan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Community, Customs Union and Common Economic Space, and the current stage of the strategic partnership between Astana and Moscow, resulted in the partial loss of sovereignty for Kazakhstan. Prospects for the creation of a Eurasian Union under the leadership of Russia may mean the loss of political independence of Astana. Russia’s regional aspirations are not limited to Kazakhstan and Belarus. Today Moscow is actively promoting accession of both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into all those supranational bodies. During the first and second term of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s aspirations in Central Asia were not so clear. However, today the situation has changed dramatically. Since the beginning of the third term of President Putin, Russia is overtly pursuing an ambitious policy towards Central Asia that is frequently characterized as “neo-imperial”.
The emblematic article published by President Putin (then Prime Minister) to inaugurate Eurasian integration projects stated that “By building the Customs Union and Common Economic Space, we are laying the foundation for a prospective Eurasian economic union. At the same time, the Customs Union and CES will expand by involving Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We plan to go beyond that, and set ourselves an ambitious goal of reaching a higher level of integration – a Eurasian Union”. Given that the Russian President frequently asserted Russia’s claim in the post-Soviet space as of vital interests and a matter of national security, it is possible to interpret these words as to referring something beyond a simple scheme of international cooperation.
Implications of the growing integration between Central Asia and Russia
The creation of the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2010, have led to dire consequences for the economy of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has become dependent on Russia on issues such as pricing and customs control of goods imported from outside the Customs Union (from third countries, including China). Today, more than 90% of the custom duties consist of Russian import duties. 90% of the revenue from those fees go to the treasury of Russia (“Customs Union: pros and cons”, 3 November 2012).
According to the recent reports, the Customs Union has led to more than 20% increase in consumer prices in Kazakhstan. This is because the tariffs in Russia and Belarus are the same, but the tariffs of Kazakhstan have always been much lower. Consequently, Russia’s tariffs were applied to 80% of all items of goods despite Kazakhstan’s request to extend this process from five to ten years. Increase in prices affected virtually the entire spectrum of essential commodities in Kazakhstan, including food, clothing, building materials, machinery, household appliances, electrical equipment, office supplies, toys, cosmetics, household chemicals, pharmaceuticals.
The exports of Kazakhstan to Russia and Belarus are mainly composed of natural resources. Thus, 75% of Kazakh exports to Russia are comprised of two types of goods. The first kind of goods – are hydrocarbons and fertilizers, which make up 56% of Kazakhstan’s exports to Russia and Belarus. The second type of goods – are iron ore and metal products, which account for 19% of Kazakhstan’s exports to Russia and Belarus.
Country members of the Customs Union do not recognize national trademarks and there are shortcomings in the application of tax legislation in the member states of the Customs Union, the lack of rules in the Agreement on indirect taxes, the different rates of value added tax within Customs Union. The last point is very problematic for the government of Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, the VAT is 12%, in Russia the VAT is 18%, in Belarus – 20%.
However, export operations are carried out by foreign trade organizations of Kazakhstan, on the basis of intergovernmental agreements, quotas and export licenses for products of national importance. Imports of raw materials, foodstuffs, medicines for public use is also carried out by trade organizations of Kazakhstan on the basis of intergovernmental agreements, quotas and licenses under free trade. Export and import operations as a whole are determined directly between producers – by joint enterprise, public and private enterprises. This mechanism is common to all post-Soviet countries. They had to be maintained, which would allow Kazakhstan to cooperate Russia without joining the Customs Union (“It’s not too late to abandon the imaginary integration”, 7 May 2012). The culmination of all of these Russia’s ambitious projects is the creation of the Eurasian Union.
In addition, Russia retains a preferential right to vote in the Customs Union. In the Commission of the Customs Union, while Russia owns 57% of the vote, Kazakhstan and Belarus equally share the rest. This means that Kazakhstan or cannot make any changes unless approved by Russia. Similarly, 84% of the officials who work for the Customs Union are citizens of Russia, which simultaneously serve the Russian government.
Currently, the main priority of Russian foreign policy in Central Asia is joining of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan into the Customs Union. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are the poorest countries in the region; they are dependent on Russia in regard to security issues and economic assistance. Russia maintains the construction of hydropower plants in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (See below). they are also dependent on Russia. Given Moscow’s approach, it looks like the integration of these countries as considered political rather than economic gain. Despite the pressure, however, there is a considerable opposition in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan against joining the Customs Union. For Kyrgyzstan, the concern is about losing the effect of 15 years of economic liberalization under the World Trade Organization. The structure of the Kyrgyz economy has already been formed under the influence of 20 years of liberalization under the World Trade Organization. According to Kyrgyz experts, after Kyrgyzstan’s entry into the World Trade Organization, the economy of Kyrgyzstan started to rise again. Kyrgyzstan was the first country in which agricultural output has reached the levels of 1991. After the emergence of the Customs Union, Kyrgyzstan’s trade volumes with China and the countries of the Customs Union have grown. Although in relative terms, the share of the Customs Union imports fell, but that did not offset the share of China and third countries. As for exports, Kyrgyzstan began to sell more both to the countries of the Customs Union and China. In other words, despite the prohibitions and restrictions, the liberal economy of Kyrgyzstan continues to work and re-export proceeds effectively. By joining the Customs Union, Kyrgyzstan may lose the liberal regime.
Similar concerns exist in Tajikistan. The Tajik experts point out that the main issue with the Customs Union is the fact that the economies of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus cannot compete with the economies of China and Turkey in terms of price, quality, and availability of goods. Some believe that large companies will infringe of the rights of ordinary consumers. Also, some claim that entry into the Customs Union does not make sense for Tajikistan because this country has no common border with the countries of the Customs Union. Even if Kyrgyzstan joins the Customs Union, it would not play a significant role. For Tajikistan, the volume of foreign trade through the border with Kyrgyzstanis negligible.
The main obstacle for Tajikistan is actually Uzbekistan, a country with a closed and protectionist economic and trade policies. All of the major trade routes of exports and imports from Tajikistan currently pass through Uzbekistan. At the same time, Uzbekistan is keeping the average tariff rate of 19%, and for a number of different products, up to 70%. Because of this, Tajikistan has the huge losses in the private sector. Many of the strategic projects depend on imported materials and equipment through Uzbekistan. The burden of higher levies on the border is an increase in the cost of transit. This affects the cost of goods and products in stores of Dushanbe and the country in general. Thus, it appears, Tajikistan has no benefits of joining the Customs Union in the absence of Uzbekistan. Since Uzbekistan has no interest in joining the integration projects with Russia, Tajikistan’s participation in the Customs Union remains a question.
So far, only Belarus and Kazakhstan joined all of these supranational organizations. Belarus is a country that is very much depended on Russia economically and politically. Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has a long border with Russia and because of its geographical position it has to maintain bilateral relations on a high level. But some other countries of Central Asia are still more independent in this matter. Unlike Kazakhstan, they have no common border with Russia, which plays a very important role for their self-sufficiency and foreign policy. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, for instance, are less dependent on Russia and, thus, they have more space for political bargaining with Russia.
Uzbekistan, due to its geographical location (has borders with all the countries of Central Asia), the largest population in the region, and economic and military potentials, occupies a special place in Central Asia. This country is the economic and political core of the region. It is extremely important for Uzbekistan to effectively manage its domestic economic problems. The main problem of Uzbekistan is the surplus labor. Uzbekistan, therefore, interested in restricting imports of consumer goods and services in order to protect its own producers and market. According to Uzbek experts, the structure of the Customs Union is contrary to these purposes. But the scope of the other integration initiatives, for example, the Free Trade Area of the Commonwealth of Independent States is acceptable for trade and economic interests of Uzbekistan.
Turkmenistan declared a status of neutrality in 1995 and this still determines the foreign policy of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan does not want to integrate with anyone, including those in the post-Soviet space. For example, until recently Turkmenistan’s natural resources, particularly natural gas, were integrated exclusively in the Russian energy system. Therefore, historically, Turkmenistan has supplied oil and gas in Russia. However, Russia appears to isolate Turkmenistan from the other countries in the region and prevent the country from develop economic relations with the West. As a response, Turkmenistan is trying to find alternative routes of energy exports to balance between Russia and China and to maintain its neutrality. In 2010, the country exported 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Russia, 15-17 billion cubic meters to China and 8 billion cubic meters of Iran. So the question of joining the Customs Union is not that relevant for Turkmenistan.
Kazakhstan: Public opinion and latest political developments in regard to integration projects with Russia
In the recent years, Kazakhstan has seen several large public rallies and protests against the country’s entry into the Customs Union and other integration processes with Russia. There emerged some political groups in protest of the growing influence of Russia in Kazakhstan, such as the popular democratic movement “Protect the Independence”, led by the influential and well-known Kazakh politician Mukhtar Shakhanov. Some other ethnically-oriented movements and organizations have also appeared recently on this purpose, such as “HalykRuhy” (The Spirit of People), “UltTagdyry” (The fate of the Nation) and others. Also in 2010, about 100 prominent politicians and public figures sent a statement addressed to the President of Kazakhstan, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the demand to denounce the agreement on the Customs Union and the restoration of the former Customs Code of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan’s political opposition, the opposition of influential media, various experts, political scientists and economists also intensified against Kazakhstan’s joining the Customs Union, to the creation of the Eurasian Union.
For instance, the political opposition and nationalist movement in the country several times protested against Kazakhstan’s joining the Customs Union. Due to the fact that there hasn’t been a referendum on accession to the Customs Union of Kazakhstan, the opposition and the nationalists believed the country’s entry into the Customs Union was not legal.
Kazakh opposition also has repeatedly tried to hold a referendum on withdrawal from the Customs Union. However, every time the Kazakh authorities prevented the running of nationwide referendum.
The last general meeting of all opposition forces from all regions of the country took place in the largest city of Kazakhstan in Almaty on 16 March 2013. Around 500 delegates attended this meeting and prepared an appropriate resolution to hold a national referendum, which was sent to the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan. In an interview to the Russian newspaper “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”, the leader of the party “Azat” Bulat Abilov said that 70% of citizens of Kazakhstan supported the country’s exit from the Customs Union and referred to the results of a poll . But the authorities once again prevented the holding of the referendum.
Jasaral Kuanyshalin, who has been in firm opposition to Kazakh Government for many years, considered that “Any form of integration of Kazakhstan and Russia, except for equal partnership and good-neighborly relations, would inevitably lead to a common political space. I find the so-called “integration projects” as a direct route to the loss of Kazakhstan‘s independence.
Aidos Sarym, an oppositional journalist and civil activist is sure that Russia’s current policy exhausts itself. “Russia can’t be a stable partner for Kazakhstan. If it is a political project (with Russia), I am totally against it. Russia is not politically or culturally attractive country for us”.
According to Russian expert Yuri Kroupnov, above-mentioned initiative of Kazakh opposition revealed a system error in organization of the Customs Union. “Raising the question of the referendum reflects the situation in which today are Kazakhstan and the Customs Union as a whole. It is clear that the Customs Union is not enough for a full-fledged Eurasian integration” .
All this is easy to see if you view the contents of opposition newspapers and websites of Kazakhstan and Kazakh experts speeches expressing concern about Kazakhstan’s entry into the Customs Union for the last several years.
The content analysis of opposition websites, such as www.taszhargan.info, www.guljan.org, www.abiev.kz clearly shows the public opinion, which is opposed to the Customs Union and the project of Eurasian Union creation.
The same opinion on how Kazakh society is quite opposite to both the Customs Union and Eurasian Union is expressed in www.altyn-orda.kz, www.abai.kz and other on-line newspapers.
But the most active communities are in social networks. Here, people actively express their negative attitudes towards either the Customs Union and Eurasian Union project or on cooperation with Russia as a whole. The content of www.facebook.com/QazaqOrda clearly proves it.
Opposition to Russia’s integration aspiration was supported also by many representatives of the authorities, states public medias. In 2013 some officials, namely G. Kasymov, a senator of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, M. Ashimbayev, a member of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, E. Karin E, a secretary of the ruling party “Nur Otan” gathered to announce that Kazakhstan never allow the creation of unified Eurasian Parliament between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. This announcement was made on behalf of the Government of Kazakhstan.
Sanat Kushkumbayev, a senior research fellow of pro-government Kazakhstan institute for strategic studies under the President of Kazakhstan writes that multi-vector foreign policy is the only rational option for Kazakhstan. “We should be staying away on a remote distance from Russia, as well as from China or USA” .
Today the resistance to process of merging of Kazakhstan with Russia under the supranational integration unions became the main news agenda in many mass media and expert circles in Kazakhstan. The main argument of the opponents of further integration of Kazakhstan with Russia within Eurasian Union can be summarized within following considerations.
Firstly, partnering with Russia as part of supranational integration organizations will force Kazakhstan to give up its national currency. It also forces Astana to give up national legislation in favor of Eurasian Union within supranational bodies. Secondly, because of disproportionate representation of Kazakhstan and Belarus in the Eurasian Union, Russia’s politics and interests became dominant in these supranational organizations. It is already took place within the existing supranational organizations with participation of Russia. For instance, Russia’s economy is at least 10 times larger than Kazakhstan’s 34 times larger than Belarus’ in the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Space. In this regard the existence of equitable balance of interests between Russia and Kazakhstan is impossible. It sounds fatal if you take into account non occasional statements of Russian politicians who used to talk about necessity of restoring the Soviet Union.
Thirdly, it is expected that after joining Eurasian Union, Kazakhstan could hardly run an independent domestic and foreign policies. Probably it would be even problematical to identify Kazakhstan as an independent entity within international law (“Kazakh Political Scientists against the Eurasian Union”, 9 May 2012). Unlike Kazakhstan, Belarus, in any case, will be capable for a way out of such a supranational organization due to its geographical location in Europe.
In response, Russia launched an information and ideological war using aggressive propaganda in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Some Russian political analysts and experts invaded the Kazakh media in favor of Russia and the Eurasian Union. Using usually an aggressive anti-Americanism they simultaneously increase the traditional anti-Chinese alarmism in Kazakhstan. If you view for example the content of many Russian-speaking web-sites, such as www.ferghana.ru, www.centrasia.ru, or pro-Russian web-site in Kazakhstan, like www.russianskz.info, www.zonakz.net and some others, you will find how it intensifies all of the issues and results in the appearance anti-American, anti-Chinese propaganda in Kazakhstan. These sources of information are also against the cooperation amongst countries of Central Asia.
Based on a simple and understandable model of the world, this Russian-oriented propaganda derives from “Self” and “Other” concept that has been an integral part of Russia’s own ideological tradition.
Russia’s ideological tradition presents Russians and their basic values as principally different from those of the Western. It has resulted in appearance of anti-Western approach in politics, and increased the influence of anti-Western perception in Russian mass media and in public opinion respectively. In today’s Russia one can often see rising opposition to the West.
Due to this universal concept of the Russians most of people refer to the U.S. like to the enemy. This perception and view remain popular in Russian society, among the masses, especially in the Russian periphery. This concept is extremely popular among Russian-speaking population in Kazakhstan.
There is need to state that the “Arab spring” and latest political developments in the Middle East and North Africa also contrasted Russia in relation to the West. Day by day we are witnessing growing opposition in Russia to the West, where the slogans heard about the special mission of Russia in the world. It has also led to the increase of anti-Western perception in media and in public opinion of many post-soviet republics. Since Russian-speaking mass medias are still numerous and influential in the Post-Soviet Central Asia. They feel themselves comfortable in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
This political ideological tradition is reproduced among other cultures and countries. It is expressed by the following false and untenable thesis in neighboring Kazakhstan and often in regard to China, rather than to the West.
Firstly, if Kazakhstan will not unite with Russia, Kazakhstan be absorbed by China because of economical, political and demographical ambitions of China. Starting economically, as it takes place now, and ending by political ambitions of China. Since Kazakhstan has become a raw material appendage of China and is the subject of Chinese demographic expansion.
Secondly, if Kazakhstan does not unite with Russia, then it will be dismembered and thrown into chaos with the help of the (U.S.), as was the case in Libya. After the Arab Spring that thought scaring political leadership, as well as ordinary people in Kazakhstan. For example, a few years ago, some experts and politicians who are pro-government, back in 2009, claimed that China is a reliable partner of Kazakhstan. For example, some of them such as K. Syroezhkin, B. Sultanov actively promoted the deepening of cooperation between Kazakhstan and China, accusing their colleagues and experts in the populism and phobia to China and China-oriented alarmism.
In particular К. Syroezhkin notes that “Today China is more important partner in regard to Kazakhstan (and Russia) than Kazakhstan or Russia for China. If objectively figure out all the pros and cons, advantages will be more. We need to learn how to use the presence of China in our favor”.
B. Sultanov wrote that “The increasing pace of Kazakh-Chinese cooperation has aim to strengthen the political trust, deepen cooperation in the field of cooperative security and stability in the region to promote economic cooperation, extension of humanitarian cooperation and contacts between people strengthening the traditional friendship between the two peoples”
But after the accession of Kazakhstan to the Customs Union in 2010, these experts began to contradict themselves. They began to openly oppose China and Kazakhstan, China and Russia. They have argued that Kazakhstan could be saved from economic and demographic expansion of China, if Kazakhstan will remain in the Customs Union and join Eurasian Union. K. Syroezhkin and B. Sultanov today openly write that China and the Western countries are against the Eurasian Union.
K. Syroezhkin writes that: “In the long term the positive scenario both for Russia and Central Asia – is a limited presence of China in any field”.
B. Sultanov expressed the same position on this issue and writes that “We can’t delay with the solution of the existing problems. Especially on the background that we have now with China. I would say that this country’s interest is to turn Kazakhstan into a raw materials appendage of the Chinese economy. That being said, the information of a serious consideration. So, the union of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia simply has no alternative, especially in today’s global geopolitical situation. Our main goal – to preserve the territorial integrity of our country within the borders that we have now. The main goal of optimal solutions to this problem may be the participation of Kazakhstan in the Customs Union”.
There are some other Russian-language newspapers and on-line editions in Kazakhstan which try to spread anti-Chinese sentiments among population. For instance, the content analysis of “www.zona.kz” (Online newspaper) or “Russians in Kazakhstan” (web-site) is a good example of it. Every time when society is worried by Russia’s threats within Customs Union or other issue, Russian-language newspapers and on-line editions in Kazakhstan begin to review and put questions in Kazakh Mass Media on China’s threats for Kazakhstan. Rising anti-Chinese sentiments thus is leading to formation of appropriate public opinion. It is also clear that integration of the post-Soviet space for Russia is the matter of Russia’s survival. That is why there need view on The Customs Union and the Eurasian Union as on a part of the neocolonial policy of Russia. Meanwhile, growing opposition in regard to Customs Union, Eurasian Union and to other neo-imperial projects of Russia reflects the main trend of political developments in the region today. For instance, public opinion has taken anti- Russian sentiment in Kazakhstan. It’s clear enough to understand why more and more people share a concern for Kazakhstan’s future. The same tendencies likely to appear in other Central Asian States. Soon or later these tendencies will lead to more broad public discussion in Central Asia and beyond.
Integration of Russia with Central Asia is at a critical stage. Further development of the integration of Russia with the countries of Central Asia is fraught with partial loss of independence of the countries of the region. The greatest threat of the loss of economic and political sovereignty is looming over Kazakhstan. Due to the fact that the government of Kazakhstan is experiencing a lot of pressure on the part of Russia, integration within the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union will continue.
Activation of China in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries are also the subject of concern. Luckily, Chinese expansion yet is constrained by a negative perception of China in the region. However, the policy of national governments of Central Asia is pushing the region into the sphere of interest of China.
Chinese expansion in the form of integration with Central Asia – is now a reality . The strengthening of China in the region grows gradually and inevitably. Integration projects of China and Russia are developing in parallel, together, without prejudice to the interests of each other. The losing side are the countries of Central Asia.
Kazakhstan, due to its geography and geopolitics needs more political support from the West than any other country of the region. But the West does not have a clear position in regard to rising influence of Russia in Kazakhstan. The West keeps silence in regard to rapid expansion of Russia in Central Asia. West also keeps silence with respect to slow and gradual expansion of Chinese interests in Central Asia.
The Silence of the West towards strengthening of Russia’s interests in Central Asia is perceived by the national governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, like the unwillingness of the West to intervene in the situation in Central Asia. After the war between Georgia and Russia in 2008, many believe that the West does not intend to take a full part in the development of strategic cooperation with the countries of Central Asia and the former Soviet republics as a whole.
Firstly, The European Union and the United States should take additional steps to strengthen their partnership with the States of Central Asia. First of all, the Central Asian governments’ cooperation with the European Union and the United States should be reformatted due to the consideration of the interests of the whole region of Central Asia. The West needs a new concept of regionalism in Central Asia, which reflects the interests of all countries of the region. National governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are concerned about pressure from the West in regard to human rights violations and lack of political liberalization is much more than the situation in Afghanistan. We have to admit that the topic of security in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops is not a major issue of concern of national governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Secondly, Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, as well as strengthening cooperation with Georgia and the ability to reformat the relations between the West and Belarus, despite the authoritarian government of A. Lukoshenko, will be a big blow to Russia’s integration projects in the post-Soviet space. A positive decision on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union, as well as the improvement of relations with Belarus – is a clear signal that the European Union and the United States have a definite position toward the post-Soviet countries and the countries of Central Asia in particular.
Thirdly, European Union and the West should take into account the dependence of the countries of Central Asia from Russia. This is especially true in case of Kazakhstan’s dependence on Russia. No need bind the questions of democratization of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries with the issues of bilateral cooperation, at least for a while. For the Western diplomacy it is important to preserve the independence of the national governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and interests of the whole region as number one priority. Therefore, the European Union and the West must express a clear position toward Russia’s integration aspirations in Central Asia. Criticism of integration projects under the Russian dominance – will be a clear signal to the national governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. This will be an effective form of political support for the interests of the countries of Central Asia.
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