Yuri Morozov, Professor, senior research associate, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, RAS (Moscow, Russian Federation)

Roger McDermott, Honorary senior research associate, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent (Canterbury, the U.K.)


Between 29 April and 1 May, 2008 we attended an international conference that discussed Central Asian security issues. Political scientists and politicians from 17 countries and several international structures gathered in Tashkent for this highly representative forum to assess the already obvious threats to Central Asian security; discuss the new and less obvious threats and challenges; and outline potential cooperation trends aimed at ensuring regional security in the 21st century.

The authors, who by citizenship belong to the member states of organizations and alliances that follow different vectors, have taken the trouble of showing the road toward their countries potential partnership in the key regional stability spheres. They deliberately avoided agitation and propaganda either of the pro-Russian or pro-Western security vectors in Central Asia to insist that cooperation rather than rivalry among the main actors present in the region can finally produce a security system that will meet the national interests of the regional states and of the world community as a whole. This is an economically justified and civilized pattern of international relations.

Central Asia as a Target of Application of Diverse Forces: Does This Stimulate Cooperation or Fan Rivalry?

Everything going on in the 21st century is gradually transforming the Central Asian Region (CAR) into a source of natural resources alternative to the volatile Middle East and the far from stable Caspian. The great powers and organizations/alliances whose interests clash in Central Asia have already appreciated the regions newly acquired importance. They are the Soviet successor states (Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and other CIS members) and states of the Far Abroad (the U.S., India, Iran, Pakistan, Japan, and other members of the OSCE, EU, NATO, OIC, etc.). Their widening presence in the region is complicating the already intricate and fairly close relations. Cooperation and rivalry will intensify.

The Region under the Pressure of Global Trends

The new actors are not the only factor: the region is open to pressure of a global nature that might affect, in the mid-term perspective and to a certain extent, regional security.

They are:

Depletion of sources of exported raw materials the world over accompanied by the growing prices for energy resources and the fiercer struggle over their supplies that not only affects the regional commodity, capital, and labor markets but also the national governance systems;

Further polarization of international relations within interstate structures: the SCO and CSTO on the one hand, of which Russia is a member, and the Western structures (NATO and EU), on the other, which are involved more actively than before in

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