KAZAKHSTAN AND THE STRATEGIC INTERESTS OF THE GLOBAL PLAYERS IN CENTRAL ASIA
Marat Shaikhutdinov, D.Sc. (Hist.), chairman of the Committee of Foreign Political Analysis and Forecasting, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kazakhstan (Astana, Kazakhstan)
Every Central Asian state today is concerned about its relations with the world powers, and Kazakhstan is no exception. This topic is even more urgent in the context of the global financial and economic crisis, when essentially all the world’s countries have had to rethink their strategy on the international arena and make certain adjustments to their foreign political priorities. The global players want to retain their leading positions, the regional nations are trying to advance their positions as their stronger rivals backslide, while the economically undeveloped countries are hoping to avoid bankruptcy and loss of sovereignty.
But such active, ambitious, and resource-rich states as Kazakhstan are not locked in a battle for survival. The matter concerns broader problems. What will the world be like after the crisis and what place will Kazakhstan occupy in it? How will post-Soviet Central Asia further evolve? Can the regional leaders show their political will or will national egoism take the upper hand? How should the Central Asian states react to the world powers’ strategy in the region? Will Central Asia become an independent entity of world politics, or will it miss its historical chance by becoming just another cog in the wheel of other nations’ geopolitical projects and strategies?
Both the long-term prospects of the individual Central Asian states and the destiny of the region as a whole directly depend on finding the right answer to these and several other no less complicated questions. Today’s political elites must understand that they are responsible not only to the present, but also to the future generations. Today the ground is being prepared for the future. What will it yield—strong or weak states?
Kazakhstan and Russia’s Central Asian Strategy
Russia occupies a historical place in Central Asia, so any talk about it “leaving” or “returning” to the region is pure rhetoric. Russia is a historical and geographical given, a geopolitical and geo-economic constant that each state must always keep in mind when drawing up its own foreign policy strategy. And finally, it represents common historical memory, close state and human ties, and the longest interstate land border in the world. So Russia will always be an exclusively important and priority partner of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.
But how successful is Russia in its Central Asian policy? Is it ready to engage in tough competition with the other global players in the new geopolitical conditions? How great are its current opportunities in the conditions of the global financial and economic crisis? Is it capable of conducting a………….