CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CAUCASUS: POST-CRISIS ANALYSIS OF THE STATE AND SOCIETY
Bakhodyr Ergashev, D.Sc. (Philos.), professor, deputy director, Institute for Civil Society Studies (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
On the whole, little or no attention is paid to the forecasts of post-crisis development in Central Asia and the Caucasus that are scattered among the publications on the post-crisis world. Indeed, so far these regions essentially remain outside the global industrial market, while the raw-material orientation of their economies allowed practically all eight of them to avoid serious socioeconomic upheavals. It is impossible, however, to supply an exhaustive forecast of the crisis’ economic, political, cultural, demographic, and other impacts.
Kazakhstan was the first among the Central Asian (and the post-Soviet countries in general) to face the crisis. This happened in the fall of 2007 when the oil reserve fund was opened and the state tried to stifle the crisis by urgently pumping state money into the republic’s economy.
This means that the numerous official statements, expert assessments, and constructive suggestions coming from the Kazakhstan opposition should be regarded as belonging to the so-called inertia model of social and economic development promoted in the republic for many years.
The international conference held in Bishkek in March 2009 and the International Conference on the Social Impact of the Economic Crisis in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Turkey held in December 2009 in Almaty pointed out that the countries for which “Russia remains a main trading partner and a major source of remittances” suffered more than many of the others.
This means that all the academic publications relating to the prospects for state and social development should be associated with the countries that have economies closely tied to Russia.
The post-crisis development of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, which still rely on the production and transportation of energy resources, while the most important political and economic decisions still hinge on increasingly greater oil and gas export, looks different.
International organizations are actively involved in elaborating long-term strategies for the two countries; their small populations create a relatively smaller number of problems.
The post-crisis strategy of Uzbekistan can be put in a nutshell as “tapping the anticrisis measures to the full for the positive development of the state and society.”
In 2009, the republic launched a state program called The Year of Development and Improvement of the Countryside, which opened a new stage of reforms. The country’s leaders plan to extend the state social programs designed to further promote human rights and freedoms and move closer to a civil society.
The Georgian model of post-crisis development deserves special mention: according to Mikhail Saakashvili, “We said that instead of regulated economy we would choose the way of liberal economy.” The Georgian president insists that this model rests on the “values and works of Ilia Chavchavadze, … the first Georgian libertarian with his economic philosophy,” rather than on the Western theories based on the Anglo-Saxon tradition.
“Despite many social problems, unemployment, poverty, and the political unrest, the society understands that we need to............