GUAM: WILL IT EXPAND TO CENTRAL ASIA?

Farkhad TOLIPOV


Farkhad Tolipov, Ph.D. (Political Science), associate professor at the National University of Uzbekistan (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)


Introduction

The mini-CIS (EurAsEC, ORI, the Russian-Belorussian Union, CACO, and GUAM) is a central concern among the many other conceptual and strategic issues the Commonwealth of Independent States is facing today. GUAM stands apart: it is a unique structure that has little in common with the interstate alliances; it is a post-Soviet organization in the full sense of the word. Its three dimensionspost-imperial, economic, and geopoliticalconfirm its specific nature.

A Symbol of Post-Imperial Reorganization

The very fact of its existence reflects the obvious and latent struggle to change the status quo across the post-Soviet expanse. The sixteen years of post-Soviet development brought two issues to the forefront of all the discussions on the content, form, and nature of the political transformations in the former Soviet republics and in their international relations: their attitude toward Russia and toward democracy. The old order meant that Moscow remained in control and that the non-democratic regimes inherited from the Soviet past survived. According to a theoretical postulate, all the strong powers (and Russia belongs to this category) are mainly status quo states. This means that they prefer to preserve the old order in international relations in order to underpin their high status. The small states, on the contrary, especially the newly independent states (many of which were colonies or dominated by large powers) want to change the order of things for objective reasons. Therefore, they can be described as anti-status quo states.

In the post-Soviet expanse, Russia acts as a status quo state, while the others would like to destroy the old order. Analysts have already pointed out that there is a direct correlation between Russias neo-imperial post-Soviet geopolitics and the fact that most of the CIS countries have already rejected democracy. The democratic wave was the natural response to the victory over the totalitarian regime. Western support was inevitable. It was this line that separated Russia and the new undemocratic states, on the one hand, and the West, on the other. The Russian Federation and the group of undemocratic states see the situation as black and white: the Western idea of democracy promotion is a Western plot against them.1 It would be hardly correct to reduce the democratic wave to a Western project from the academic point of view. This approach would have smacked of slighting the nations and the public and


1I have already tried to disprove the theory of Western plots in the guise of proliferation of democracy in: The Moment of Truth: End of the Transition Period? (On the Democratic Initiative in the Central Asian States), Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 5 (35), 2005. Back to text

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