Thursday, 05 December 2019 16:58

Is This Central Asia’s ASEAN Moment?

The Diplomat
December 5, 2019

By S. Frederick Starr

Is This Central Asia’s ASEAN Moment?

On November 29, Central Asia re-emerged as a world region.


Hats off to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, First President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan, and President Sooronbay Jeenbekov of the Kyrgyz Republic. On November 29, 2019 these leaders jointly resolved to develop:

forms and mechanisms for the development of cooperation in the areas of trade, economy, investments, transport and transit, agriculture, industrial cooperation, protection of environment, energy, water resources, tourism, science and culture.

In short, they pledged to develop in Central Asia something akin to ASEAN, the Nordic Council, the Vishegrad Group, or Mercosur. After centuries of being played against one another, the Central Asian states have linked arms to advance their common welfare.

Even though it took these newly independent countries 28 years to achieve this, the logic of their decision is impeccable. Their landlocked status, poor intraregional communication, minimal intraregional trade, and poor links in countless areas have greatly hampered development throughout the region. With an average population of barely 14 million, the individual countries of Central Asia rank with Chad, Somalia, or Zimbabwe. However, their combined population puts them in the same league with Britain, Thailand, or France. Through coordination and cooperation they seek to overcome the liabilities of intraregional isolation and reap the benefits of efficiency and scale.

The presidents do not view their as-yet unnamed Central Asian entity as an alternative to national sovereignty. Rather, they conceive it as a kind of second story to the full statehood they gained with the collapse of the USSR. For all of them it is a natural response to the increasingly competitive environment in which small states everywhere must function. And by joining forces they will discourage outside powers from playing them off each other.

The officials who signed the Tashkent document vary widely in experience. The convener, Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, has been in office for only three years, while Rahmon of Tajikistan was first elected in 1992 and survived a lengthy civil war. Although Nazarbayev officially left Kazakhstan’s presidency in March after 29 years, he still bears the honorary title of Leader of the Nation, in which capacity he represented his country in Tashkent. Meanwhile, the presidents of Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan have served 12 and two years, respectively.

The governments they head are equally diverse. All except Kyrgyzstan, which struggles to function as a parliamentary republic, are top-down regimes, which their mildest critics characterize as authoritarian. Indeed, over the years, not one has escaped the charge of dictatorship. Yet Mirziyoyev has launched a transformative program of reforms in Uzbekistan, while Nazarbayev’s successor has announced the goal of making Kazakhstan a state that listens to its citizens. Rahmon justifies his one-man rule as necessary to prevent religious extremists from crossing into Tajikistan from Afghanistan, while Berdymukhamedov defends his authoritarianism as necessary to ward off foreign threats and preserve Turkmenistan’s non-aligned status.

One might question if such diverse countries and leaders can work together successfully. Yet the commonalities of the five countries far outweigh their differences. All are Muslim societies and adhere to the relatively mild and commercially oriented Hanafi school. And while they proudly view their region as a major historical seat of the faith, they all have secular states, laws, and courts. All but Persianate Tajikistan are Turkic, and all five societies can claim thousands of years of close commercial and cultural interaction with one another. This is no surprise, as these are the people who both originated and operated the Silk Roads. As Nazarbayev put it in 2017:

I know that we share a common past, a common culture, common values, and common understandings, and we also face common threats. Furthermore, I know that we all know each other far better than outsiders know us.

Acknowledging this basis for mutual collaboration in Central Asia, one should also note that some of the most successful regional entities globally are comprised of countries that differ radically from one another. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes among its member states Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim countries. While some of them boast participatory governments based on market economies, they also include authoritarian and communist states. In population ASEAN countries range from Indonesia (271 million) to Singapore (5.7 million) and Brunei (430,000). And yet they collaborate effectively through a complex web of coordinating, consultative, and legislative bodies in virtually every field of endeavor. Similarly, the venerable Nordic Council, formed in 1952, includes both members of the European Union and nonmembers, as well as members of NATO and nonmembers.

If the case for regional coordination and collaboration in Central Asia is so strong, why was such an initiative not mounted before now? The fact is that it was, and these efforts can even be traced to the last decades of Soviet rule. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s the First Secretaries of the Communist Parties of all five Central Asian republics frequently consulted with one another and coordinated their dealings with Party leaders in the Kremlin. The key figure in this unofficial but intensive form of regionalism was Sharof Rashidov, who ruled Uzbekistan between 1959 and 1983, but his counterparts in all the other republics participated actively. By so doing they created a kind of semi-autonomy for their republics as a group.

This broke down after independence, as each new country focused on asserting its own sovereignty and identity. Their path was difficult, for all five had to design and adopt new laws and institutions, establish themselves on the international scene, and create symbols and rituals that enabled members of the public to view themselves as citizens of a nation-state rather than subjects of an empire. While all this was taking place, they had also to completely reorganize their economies, taking control of sectors that had heretofore been run from Moscow and introducing private property to a populace long accustomed to life under communism.

For most of the 1990s the new governments were preoccupied with these concerns. Yet they consolidated their rule and survived. Tajikistan, which endured a brutal civil war, achieved peace in 1997. Confidence returned everywhere. It was in this mood that three countries — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan — launched the Central Asia Union, which later become known as the Central Asia Cooperation Organization. The bold founders designed this body to address even the most sensitive region-wide issues, including water and security. Turkmenistan, citing its UN-approved nonaligned status, stood aside, but Tajikistan was ready to join once peace was concluded there. Then Vladimir Putin intervened.

Putin’s first move was to seek observer status for Russia. With no alternative, members acceded to this request, but it was quickly followed by a request for Russia to be admitted as a full member. No sooner had the Central Asians acceded to this than Putin proposed to close down the regional body and replace it with what became his Eurasian Economic Union. As had happened so often over recent centuries, centrifugal force overwhelmed region-based centripetalism.

But the Central Asians did not abandon their quest for regionally-based cooperation and collaboration. Their new tool for advancing this cause was to make their region a nuclear free zone. Kazakhstan had voluntarily given up its nuclear arms in 1992 and in that same year the five presidents met in Almaty and declared their intention to keep their region free of nuclear arms. This idea germinated quietly until 1997, when a meeting in Turkmenistan’s capital of Ashgabat produced a formal proposal signed by all five countries, which the General Assembly of the United Nations promptly approved by consensus. Then followed another period of quiet diplomacy at the international level, which culminated in 2006 with the signing in Kazakhstan of a treaty banning nuclear weapons from the region. The United States, France, and Britain opposed this step while both Russia and China supported it. Relying on none of these partners, the Central Asians successfully asserted their right to act as a group, without the interference of outside powers.

At this point the initiative for regional collaboration shifted to sympathetic foreign powers. In 2004, Japan, eager to outflank China in the region, began convening annual meetings with all five countries as a group in what it called the “Central Asia Plus Japan” initiative. The European Union copied this format for their own annual meetings and, significantly, backed it with a new strategy for “Enhanced Integration for Prosperity in Central Asia.” What the Central Asians had difficulty doing on their own, they could accomplish with the help of sympathetic outsiders, East and West.

The United States, preoccupied with Afghanistan, ignored this centripetal movement within Central Asia. Over several years Uzbekistan sought to persuade Washington to use its Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA) with Central Asian countries as a platform for region-wide meetings. But Washington remained indifferent. Finally, in 2015 Kairat Umarov, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Washington, proposed to then-Secretary of State John Kerry that America create a “C5+1” structure comprising the five Central Asian states and Washington. Kerry agreed, but the State Department did little to lift the resulting consultations above the level of bureaucratic routine.

The election of Shavkat Mirziyoyev in 2018 gave a new impetus to the movement for Central Asian regionalism. By making improved relations with Uzbekistan’s Central Asian neighbors his first priority, Mirziyoyev swept away many impediments to cooperation and coordination. When he proposed a new meeting of the five presidents, Nazarbayev immediately offered not only to host the group in Astana but to issue the invitation in the name of its initiator, Uzbekistan. A new era of regional comity had begun.

Although the meeting took place as planned, the follow-up meeting scheduled for Tashkent was postponed. Rumors circulated that both the Kyrgyz and Turkmen had offered objections. Many thought the regionalist movement had died. But it hadn’t. At the joint initiative of the Central Asian ambassadors to the United Nations, the General Assembly on  June 22, 2018 approved a resolution “Affirming Cooperation in Central Asia” that acknowledged the existence of Central Asia as a world region with its own interests and objectives, and with the right to organize itself to advance them. All the major powers, including China, Russia, the EU, and the United States, voted in favor. Then, in February 2019, Uzbekistan organized a major conference on regional cooperation in Tashkent. Of great significance was the fact that the secretary general of the United Nations blessed the event, affirming its international legitimacy.

But now a new centrifugal force was being exerted across the region. Under great pressure from Russia, Kyrgyzstan had joined Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union. Now that pressure was refocusing on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Tashkent managed to gain time by accepting only observer status for a period of five years, a step that provided cover for its smaller neighbor Tajikistan. Given the fact that Uzbekistan had earlier joined and then quit both the western-oriented GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) organization and Russia’s Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), this temporizing cannot be seen as simply a means of delaying membership.

It is one thing to affirm common interests and declare solidarity, and quite another to develop institutions and structures to give permanence to such mutual relations. Here the November 29 declaration is deliberately vague. Besides calling for annual meetings of the presidents around the time of the ancient and region-wide Nowruz festival, which coincides with the vernal equinox, the conferees launched a process of discussion to determine the most appropriate institutional structures for their collaboration. Meanwhile, region-wide meetings of think tanks and educational institutions have already taken place, and many more such conclaves are planned.

As they plan their future regional organization, the Central Asians will closely examine the experience of existing entities like ASEAN, the Nordic Council, etc. This has already begun, with several analytic papers already in print and a study visit to Singapore to enable young Central Asian leaders to meet with officials of ASEAN. The key will be to learn from both the successes and failures of others; in other words, to adapt, and not simply adopt. Given the strong sense of regional identity and self-interest that exists in Central Asia, one can expect this process of institutionalization to yield some innovative results.

What, then, are the chances of success for the new regional institutions that the Central Asian presidents announced in Tashkent on November 29? There are many causes for concern. Among these, the broad differences between the economic, social, and institutional resources of the participating countries present a particularly acute challenge. What works in Kazakhstan may not work in Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan. The effort to find a middle ground will inevitably consume time and energy, and could well prevent action.

A second possible retardant will be the huge demands and sheer magnetic attraction of global engagement. Obviously, the founding presidents see their new entity as a way to facilitate successful engagement with international structures, not as an alternative to them. But the endless claims of foreign governments, international financial institutions, and donor organizations could upstage intraregional developments and draw attention and energy away from them. Only if regional elites and publics perceive regional organizations as benefitting them personally will the new initiative succeed.

Still a third possible brake on the development of a regional association of Central Asian states could be opposition from Moscow. President Putin has always presented his Eurasian Economic Community (2000) and Eurasian Economic Union (2014) as better alternatives to any purely regional organization of Central Asians. That is why he moved to close down the Central Asia Union. The Central Asians are understandably concerned over the overwhelming economic and demographic disparity between Russia and all the EAEU’s other members. Beyond this, they know that Moscow sees the EAEU as a means of weaning the entire region from its ties with Europe and the West in favor of a grand new “Greater Eurasia” built around Russia and China. And, finally, they realize that Russia wants the resulting east-west trade to be channeled through Siberia, not Central Asia, which would return their region to the lowly status of a supplier of energy and raw materials.

Yet whether joining the EAEU is wise or foolish, it need not preclude membership in the new regional organization. If this were to change, it would, of course, be a cause for grave concern. But it should be noted that Russia voted for the 2018 UN resolution affirming Central Asia as a world region entitled to organize in order to protect its own interests, and made no overt moves to thwart the November 29 statement. With so many ambitions and commitments elsewhere, Putin may decide to give Central Asians a pass on their self-organization. Or maybe not. And if not, the Kremlin can call on its many assets across the region, including the security services in several of the countries.

Here the role of other outside powers comes into play. China has its own ambitions in Central Asia but has indicated its intention to respect the Central Asians’ decision to form a purely regional association. Japan has long supported such arrangements, as has the EU. If European commercial and political contacts continue to deepen, as appears likely, the Central Asians will think twice before putting them at risk. The same holds for the United States, which until now has invested mainly in Central Asian energy and raw materials. This is now changing rapidly, with new investments and interactions emerging daily at both official and unofficial levels.

The only problem with this formulation is that up to now Washington’s response to the new regionalism in Central Asia has been passive, unimaginative, and bureaucratic. Yes, it claims to support the emerging regional spirit, but to date it has not even taken full advantage of its TIFA and C5+1 agreements to back Central Asia’s emergence as an organized world region. Whatever the State Department may say, money is not the issue, since the new investments are market-based and private. Rather, it is the failure of the State Department, other relevant U.S. agencies, and private foundations to use their convening power to bring together Central Asians in ways that benefit the growth of regional contacts and structures.

This dark picture is brightened by brightened by important positive forces. Promenent among them is the spirit of urgency that prevails across the region. Facing pressures from the north and common security challenges like drug trafficking and religious extremism, they know they must seek common responses, and organize themselves to implement them. Moreover, all countries of the region are awakening to the reality that they must compete in a rapidly changing global economic environment, in which they must either work with their neighbors or fade away as sovereign states.

A further positive element is the leavening influence of reforms in Uzbekistan. Whether or not they are copied by neighboring states, the Mirziyoyev reforms have removed many impediments to fruitful interaction on the regional level, and set processes in motion that will further this development. Significant increases in intraregional travel, communications, investment, cultural exchanges, and citizen interactions are daily increasing the chances for success of the November 29 program. Indeed, the geometric increase of such contacts are transforming regionalism from a purely top-down process to one in which change is also being generated from below as well as from above.

It is still too early to say whether the presidency of Kassim-Jomart Tokayev in Kazakhstan will have a similarly positive impact on the development of region-wide consultative institutions. However, this is strongly likely. Tokayev has declared his intention to shift to a more responsive and citizen-based mode of governing. Given his cautious manner, his steps in this direction will be the more easily borrowed and assimilated by other regional states. Moreover, Tokayev has more international experience than any of his regional peers. Significantly, he was the author of the widely copied strategy of “balancing” the major external powers against one another through positive relations. As such, he understands clearly that it will be far easier for the Central Asian countries to achieve such a balance by acting in coordination with one another than by acting alone. He knows that the best way to prevent outside powers from playing the ancient “divide and conquer game” in Central Asia is for the Central Asian countries to act in consort, through a process of communication and coordination.

The document signed in Tashkent by all the regional leaders on November 29 clearly indicates that they have all come to this same conclusion. They see the new Central Asia-wide structures as an essential component of the development of their own states and societies. Moreover, their joint declaration makes clear that participating countries will be free to join or not join any other groupings or alliances they wish, provided they honor their commitments to their Central Asian neighbors.

Stated differently, they do not advance the need for Central Asia-wide institutions in a spirit of opposition to any foreign power or economic bloc but as the best way to overcome their landlocked status, relatively small populations, and distance from major economic centers. Far from seeing this step as in any way revolutionary, they view it as affirming their deepest historical and cultural traditions. As they state in their joint resolution of November 29 2019, “The [proposed] political dialogue and positive processes of interstate rapprochement in Central Asia are of an open and constructive nature and are not aimed against the interests of third parties.”

On this basis, the United States, Russia, China, the EU, and the entire international community should welcome and embrace this innovative and promising project.

S. Frederick Starr is Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at the American Foreign Policy Council.

Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program
Silk Road Paper
November 2019


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1911EU-CAThe launch of a new EU Strategy for Central Asia in June 2019 marked a milestone in the gradual development of relations between the EU and the region. The Strategy’s launch coincides with considerable change in and around the region. Internally, Central Asia has experienced a renewed commitment to reform and regionalism; meanwhile, the region has seen a greater engagement by neighboring powers, most immediately through large-scale Chinese and Russian initiatives, but also in the shape of a growing interest on the part of Asian powers as well as the United States.

A closer analysis of the EU’s engagement with Central Asia paradoxically indicates a sort of parallel evolution: both the EU and the Central Asian states are products of the post-cold war era, and their relations have intensified along with their own internal evolution into ever more solid entities on the international scene. Whereas the EU and Central Asia in the early 1990s were weakly institutionalized and had little to do with each other, that has changed. The EU has gone through deep internal processes through which it emerged with a Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the institutions, like the European External Action Service, to implement it.

Similarly, the development of statehood in Central Asia has allowed the regional states to develop relations not just with their immediate neighbors, but with the wider world. From a Central Asian perspective, the EU is a valuable partner as it is not, inherently, a traditional great power with designs on the region’s sovereignties; but an important trading partner as well as a source of technology and assistance. Conversely, as the EU has developed a global posture, Central Asia has acquired greater importance. Several factors have contributed to this: growing European attention to Eurasia following the conflict in Afghanistan; the EU expansion into Eastern Europe; mounting troubles in EU-Russia relations, including energy security concerns; and the emergence of China on the world stage, including through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The gradual intensification of EU-Central Asia relations is traceable in the series of EU documents on the region that have been issued since a first assistance strategy was drafted in 2002. A formal EU-wide strategy followed in 2007, which was subsequently revised several times, culminating in its replacement by the newly promulgated 2019 document. What started as a roadmap for foreign assistance has, over time, morphed into a complex document seeking to balance a wide array of interests, ranging from the promotion of trade and energy ties to enhanced dialogue in security matters as well as a focus on human rights and good governance. 

The overview of EU policy in this study suggests that from relatively modest beginnings two decades ago, the EU has devoted considerable attention and resources to its relationship with Central Asia – with a very organized approach, involving the production of concrete strategies, reviews of these strategies, and European Council conclusions on the region on a bi-yearly basis. This approach compares favorably to the more disorganized policy of the United States toward Central Asia. The EU’s systematic approach has allowed it to avoid the pitfall of U.S. policy, namely to risk treating Central Asia as a corollary to policies on other issues or powers rather than as a goal in itself. This EU has defined its relations with Central Asia on the basis of its interests in the region itself, and not as an appendix to something else. That said, a series of issues continue to confront EU policy in Central Asia.

First among these is scope. The EU is active on numerous fronts and needs to take into account the interests of 28 member states, different EU institutions, civil non-government and activist organizations, and Central Asian governments. Navigating the different priorities advanced by different actors raises the risk of the EU trying to do too much with too little, instead of focusing its energies on several specific matters. The 2019 strategy’s structure suggests a conscious effort to narrow down the scope of the strategy. Still, many of the existing priorities remain in force, only being relegated to subordinate priorities under the respective key rubrics. Indeed, few of the priorities expressed in the past have been dropped from the new strategy; but the EU has made it more clear where it is intending to invest most of its resources and has indicated concrete priorities.

Second is the regional question: the EU is frequently criticized for taking a regional approach to countries that have distinct differences. Is the EU right to frame its interactions with Central Asia on a regional rather than bilateral basis? While this was a frequent criticism in the past decade, the growing enthusiasm for regionalism across the region must now be said to vindicate the EU’s regional approach. Central Asian states themselves have made clear they consider themselves part of a distinct Central Asian region – something most plainly stated in the official foreign policy doctrines of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which both make “Central Asia” the priority of their foreign relations. In addition, the alternative – viewing Central Asia from the perspective of its neighbors – has the direct implication of removing the focus from Central Asia itself, and seeing its states as loose appendages to other great powers or conflict zones, thus strengthening centrifugal tendencies that run counter to long-term interests of both the EU and Central Asian states.

That said, this regional approach should avoid being mired in a Soviet-era definition of the region. Across the region, in fact, the growing acceptance of a larger definition of Central Asia as extending to the south and east is unmistakable. While maintaining its focus on the five post-Soviet states of Central Asia, the EU has for far too long treated Central Asia as entirely separate from Afghanistan, thus missing opportunities to develop synergies between its activities in both areas. Similarly, Central Asian states are strongly affected by developments in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Province, while the links between Central Asia and the South Caucasus across the Caspian Sea are crucial to the region’s economic development, and not least to its links to Europe. The EU has considerable potential to function as an engine for boosting Central Asian cooperation with both Afghanistan and the South Caucasus.

A third perennial challenge has been to balance the normative elements of the EU’s agenda – advancing human rights and democracy – with the pursuit of European interests in the spheres of trade, energy or security. The apparent tension between these EU objectives has led to considerable criticism of EU double standards. This issue affects the very legitimacy and internal consistency of the EU’s policies in Central Asia. But the activists’ charge that the EU ignores normative matters for the sake of self-interest does not hold up to scrutiny and stems largely from unrealistic expectations. For one, the EU has made the determination that the promotion of human rights and democracy is a long-term endeavor and emphasized a measured and cautious long-term promotion of the prerequisites for sustainable democracy. Therefore, EU efforts have centered on the promotion of poverty reduction, education, and good governance in Central Asia rather than an aggressive promotion of immediate political change.

Viewed in this light, the EU has actually invested considerably more in the promotion of domestic development in Central Asia compared to strategic interests such as energy and security. In sum, the EU has correctly adopted an approach that focuses on good governance and economic development, criteria that are necessary for long-term democratic development, and which require cooperation with governments rather than efforts to circumvent or undermine them.

Fourth, how should the EU approach security affairs in a region dominated by hard security actors? Central Asia is a region where states face hard security questions that touch directly on their sovereignty. The EU, as an entity, has only reluctantly been forced to accept the continued primacy of geopolitics. Its challenge in Central Asia is to simultaneously adapt to this hard power reality, while carving out a niche on the basis of how it differs from hard power actors. To do so, it must adjust its policies to take into consideration a reality where concerns of sovereignty, statehood and security are at the center of its Central Asian counterparts’ mind. The EU can no longer rely solely on the power of its normative values, but must act more as a power rather than an integration project. This applies very directly to the EU’s approach to the Central Asian states’ efforts to balance China and Russia, a situation where the EU now finds itself, for most practical purposes, the Western power most engaged in Central Asia. Key in this regard is the facilitation of Central Asian regional cooperation, a matter raised as a cross-cutting priority by the EU.

Fifth, the EU puts strong emphasis on supporting education in Central Asia. However, like Central Asian states themselves, the EU has tended to focus too much on higher education at the expense of K-12 education, and the development of practical skills in the Central Asian labor force.

Sixth, while the EU is correct in highlighting the struggle against violent extremism in its 2019 Strategy, that struggle should not be limited to a fight against armed groups, as it is also a struggle against the ideologies underpinning violent acts. Against this background, it is unfortunate that the 2019 Strategy omits the emphasis put in the 2007 document on the domestic religious traditions of Central Asia, and their acceptance of secular governance – something that makes Central Asian states stand out in the Muslim world, providing a unique point of commonality with Europe. The EU should support the further development of secular governance, seeking to work with Central Asian states to reform and improve their implementation of secularism in a more positive and constructive direction.

Finally, the EU’s success in developing relations with Central Asia is to a considerable degree a function of the fact that the most senior EU officials – unlike their predecessors – have taken Central Asia seriously, and have devoted time and energy to meeting their Central Asian colleagues and not least, to listen to their concerns. Against this background, the task of keeping EU-Central Asia relations at the current level, and ideally to intensify them further, requires the incoming leadership of the EU – particularly the incoming Vice President and High Representative Josep Borrell – to take a similar level of interest in Central Asia and visit the region as soon as possible.  

A New EU Strategy for Central Asia: Pointing a Path for the U.S.?

In June 2019, the EU released a new strategy for Central Asia. This strategy was formulated in response to rapid changes in the region, ranging from China's Belt and Road Initiative, new reform initiatives across the region, and a new momentum for regional cooperation. What does this strategy mean for the EU's relations with Central Asia? And does this mean that the EU now leads the developed and democratic world in engaging with Central Asia, and is pointing a path forward for the US?

This Forum meeting marks the release of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute's new Silk Road Paper on the subject, A Steady Hand: The EU’s 2019 Strategy and Policy Toward Central Asia.

Speaker: Svante Cornell, Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at AFPC

Moderator: S. Frederick Starr, Chairman, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at AFPC

Where: Middle East Institute: 1763 N Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20036

When: Wednesday, December 5, 2019 from 2:30 - 4:00 pm, 

RSVP: Click HERE to register

Published in Forums & Events

The Caucasus and Central Asia: IMF Economic Outlook and Policy Challenges

The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute held a forum on IMF engagemtn in the CCA region. The forum discussed trade tensions, oil price volatility, and geopolitical tensions are weighing on the world economy. The speaker addressed what the region’s policy makers should do to make their economies resilient and promote higher and more inclusive growth. 


Juha Kähkönen, Deputy Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund

Moderator:  Svante Cornell, Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at the American Foreign Policy Council

Where: Middle East Institute: 1763 N Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20036

When: Wednesday, November 21, 2019 from 3:00 - 4:30 pm, 

Scroll down to watch the event. 

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CACI and CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program cordially invites you to

Tokayev’s Kazakhstan: A New Reform Agenda


This year’s transition of power in Kazakhstan marks a turning point for Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region as a whole. Following the resignation of Kazakhstan’s First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, long-time Senate Speaker, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kassymjomart Tokayev won a June 2019 snap presidential election. Nazarbayev maintains a central role including chairing the National Security Council, and recently gained additional influence over personnel appointments. While Tokayev has pledged continuity with Nazarbayev’s legacy, his September address to the nation also indicated a new urge for political reform, including what Tokayev labeled the “Listening State.” 

The CSIS and Central Asia-Caucasus Institute invite you to a discussion with leading Kazakh analysts, who will provide their perspectives on Kazakhstan’s direction under President Tokayev.

Please join us for a discussion with

Askar Nursha

Dean, School of Public Policy and Law, Almaty Management University


Shavkat Sabirov

Director, Institute for Security and Cooperation in Central Asia

Introductions by

Frederick Starr

Chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program

Moderated by

Jeffrey Mankoff

Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Program, CSIS

Friday, November 1, 2019

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

2nd Floor Conference Room
Center for Strategic & International Studies
1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036
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