Serik Primbetov, D.Sc. (Econ.), professor, Deputy Secretary General, Eurasian Economic Community (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

For many centuries, the Central Asian region was a connecting link between the East and the West. But in the 15th century, with the advance of water transport, the overland Great Silk Road from Europe to Asia lost its initial significance: the development of shipping put Central Asia (CA) in a difficult position. Its peoples had no outlet to the sea and were obliged to develop on their own.

Today Central Asia has regained its importance and is not only an East-West corridor, but also a promising developing partner for many countries of the world. This is borne out, among other things, by the active policy of CA states oriented toward close regional cooperation and multilateral international relations. All of this promotes socioeconomic and political development and helps to raise living standards in the countries of the region.

Why have the Central Asian countries chosen integration as a top priority of their development? What has influenced their choice and what kind of results are they reaping today along this road? Many analysts, politicians and economists are currently concerned with these questions, and this article is an attempt to provide some of the answers.

Integration as a Political Choice

In most sources, the year 1991 is defined as a turning-point for Central Asia, because that was when its development for the first time passed into the hands of national (instead of Soviet) regional leaders. However, this did not make things easier for the CA countries, but only added new problems to those

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