CENTRAL ASIA AS VIEWED BY CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL ANALYSTS
Murat Laumulin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Chief Fellow at the Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Studies (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
In Lieu of an Introduction
This is the second part of the historiography on literature about Central Asia which appeared earlier this year in Central Asia and the Caucasus. It is intended to fill the gap about the books on Central Asia which have appeared in the last two years that were not covered in the previous article.
Europe and Central Asia: Identical Interests
After a long interval, Romanic-speaking Southern Europe (Italy and Spain) revived its interest in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, while France, the U.K., and Germany never lost theirs.
In 2008, the Cassa di Risparmio Fund of Bologna published a fundamental work which gathered between its two covers everything historians, ethnographers, and political scientists had to say about Kazakhstan.
Five of the thirteen chapters were written by Kazakhstan historians, archeologists, ethnographers, and sociologists. Those who devised this definitive publication and identified its ideology intended to trace the cultural and civilizational developments in contemporary Kazakhstan based on rich archeological material and historical sources related to the country’s nomadic past. The problems of our day and modernization of Kazakh (Kazakhstan) society have been covered in just as much detail.
It seems that Italian social anthropologists will find the book especially interesting and useful.
The Spanish academic community devoted its works entirely to Kazakhstan’s current developments. Great Powers and Regional Integration in Central Asia: A Local Perspective was prepared with the active involvement of Kazakhstan experts and published in English by the Opex Fund operated by the Foreign Ministry of Spain. The joint effort was coordinated by M. Esteban and N. de Pedro, the two ideologists of this collective work. This relatively small book deals with geopolitics and the international status of Central Asia; each of its structural units looks at the regional policy of the key international actors who have their own interests in the region (Russia, China, the U.S., Turkey, Japan, and the European Union). As expected, the Spanish authors concentrated on the relations between the European Union and Central Asia, while their colleagues from Kazakhstan were given the opportunity to express their opinion about the policy of other powers.
Mario Esteban is convinced that Russia, the influence of which is shrinking, is relying on regional cooperation exercised through the EurAsEC and CSTO as an instrument to reinforce its presence in the region. The Spanish expert believes that China is rapidly building up its regional influence and is the driving force in the SCO. The United States, writes Mario Esteban, is concentrating on the Greater Central Asia (GCA) project designed to “reintegrate” the region with South Asia (particularly with Afghanistan and Pakistan). The Turkish geopolitical project is based on the idea of Turkic unity. The Spanish author regards Japan as………………….