POLITICAL COMPETITION IN CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CAUCASUS: OBJECTIVES, MEANS, AND MECHANISMS
Bakhodyr Ergashev, D.Sc. (Philos.), Professor, Independent Researcher (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)
Political competition in the newly independent states as an academic problem has acquired a new dimension under the impact of the recent developments in North Africa and West Asia.
A large number of academic writings examine the development of political competition in Japan, India, and Turkey, while Central Asia and the Caucasus plays an important role in analyzing the same problem in the post-Communist countries.
Here I have analyzed the political competition processes underway in the domestic policy of the Central Asian and South Caucasian countries starting in 2009, the year Barack Obama became president of the United States.
In 1975, Republican President Gerald Ford (1974-1977) assessed the chances of Western democracies in their rivalry with Marxism (particularly in the regions bordering on Soviet Central Asia and the Transcaucasus) as “military competition must be controlled. Political competition must be restrained.”
Said at the height of détente, four years later this formula lost its meaning when the Soviet Union, after capturing President Amin’s residence by storm, invaded Afghanistan during the Democratic Administration of President Carter (1977-1981). This radically changed the situation in Central Asia along with the approaches to political competition.
President Carter and the key figures of his administration (Zbigniew Brzezinski in particular) were very impressed by the book To Build a Castle by Vladimir Bukovsky, a prominent Soviet dissident, published in 1978 and similar works which appeared at approximately the same time.
The Democrats developed their approaches under President Clinton (1993-2001) when “new” Russia (still a big player in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus) under President Yeltsin and some other countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Tajikistan) were facing the need to develop perestroika and achieve a political consensus at home.
In 2009, the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which appeared in the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, touched upon the social and political situation in some of the post-Soviet states (Russia and Uzbekistan among others) and described the stimuli which could have added vigor to political competition:
1. Opposition parties;
2. Alternative candidates to state posts;
3. Access to the media;
4. Free political campaigns;
5. Removal of administrative barriers for all involved in election campaigns, etc.
Later, in April 2009, speaking at the Turkish parliament, President Obama pointed out that “democracy cannot be static”; he also spoke about a “vibrant civil society” and…………….