THE EUROPEAN UNION IS READJUSTING ITS CENTRAL ASIAN STRATEGY
Murat Laumulin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Chief Research Associate, Kazakhstan Institute of Strategic Research (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
As soon as the Soviet Union fell apart, Central Asia, together with the rest of the post-Soviet expanse, became part of so-called political Europe, that is, it was drawn into the EU’s sphere of interests on the strength of the OSCE membership of all the post-Soviet states.
The European Union’s strategy and policy in Central Asia are not directly related to the region’s military-strategic security, although they can indirectly affect it through
(1) European institutions such as the OSCE, the European Commission, the European Parliament, etc.;
(2) the policy of the European powers (the U.K., Germany, and France in particular); and
(3) NATO, the military-political institution that unites most of the EU countries.
The EU is guided in its Central Asian policy by two very important considerations.
First, as distinct from the U.S., China, and even Russia (which have no conceptual documents related to the region), the European Union is the only geopolitical actor that has a strategy outlined in detail in a document entitled The EU’s Central Asia Strategy adopted in 2007, even though it has not yet shown its efficiency or produced any impressive results.
Second, the European Union demonstrates its preference for “soft power” at the conceptual and practical levels as opposed to the use of force as a traditional geopolitical instrument. This is true of Brussels’ foreign policy in Central Asia and elsewhere.
The European political community is convinced that sustainable democratic and secular regimes in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus will create a security belt of sorts to protect Europe from the unstable regions of the Muslim world. On the whole, however, European political analysts have not yet decided whether the EU needs Central Asia and to what extent.
The EU members, however, never hesitate to support their companies functioning in Central Asia (particularly in the energy sector) to ensure a steady flow of oil and gas from this fuel-rich region.
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In the first half of 2007, when Germany assumed rotating chairmanship in the Council of Europe, Berlin was convinced that the EU’s strategy in Central Asia should be revised. In June 2007, the Council of Europe adopted a new EU Central Asian Strategy (drafted mainly by……………..