Abstract. In the mid-90s, a new vector in politics was definitely outlined throughout the former USSR. It denotes the former-Soviet republics integration inevitability and necessity as the main factor of their survival and security. This is clearly understood by politicians at various levels, ruling elites who came to power in the ruins of the Soviet Union, and most of the citizens of the former empire. However,le no one can answer the main question: how will the economic integration of these states take place under fundamentally new geopolitical and geo-economic conditions and in the course of their transition to a market economy? No one can even answer such a question: whether the disintegration of the former Union has completed, or the new crises are waiting for us.
Integration as a process includes aspects like economic cooperation, political convergence, joint military development and security provision. World integration experience and interstate integration as a security factor are being carefully studied in Kazakhstan. In this regard, the European experience is of special interest.
In case of referring to the European history, it can be indicated that Europe made a complicated way filled with military clashes, confrontation and permanent threat to security to the very existence of some European states. However, this experience indicates that the security problem resolution in Europe has become possible as a result of development of integration processes.
Let us look at the history of relations between the two largest states in Europe - France and Germany. These countries fought three most bloody wars against each other (1870, 19141918, 1939-1945), staggering Europe. And only when de Gaulle and Adenauer, the leaders of France and the Federal Republic of Germany, realized that the security issue of their states could be solved only by pulling back from confrontation and settling down to a course of trust and economic cooperation, only then Europe would have a new chance for peaceful development. Since the signing of the Rome Treaty for the Common Market Establishment in 1957, the integration processes in Europe have gained momentum and led to the European Union formation.
Alternatively, let us look at the experience of regional integration of ASEAN member states. This South-East Asia Region in the 60-80s was literally a "battlefield" (the Vietnam War, the Cambodian conflict and the numerous armed conflicts that took place as a result of ethnic and communal-religious conflicts, mutual territorial claims). Economic or economically motivated reasons, such as border disputes over fisheries, use of forest and water resources, incomplete demarcation of economic zones and territorial waters between the countries of South-East Asia, were often the source of intra-regional conflicts as well.
The major role in the fact that large-scale wars and armed conflicts took place in this region during the Cold War period was undoubtedly played by external factors, that is, direct participation of extra-regional states in such conflicts.
However, in the 90s, mostly due to ASEAN establishment and successful operation, the region gradually transformed, and especially the Indochina Peninsula, from a battlefield into a market. This was convincing evidence of not only the strengthening and universality of the economic integration process, but also the shift of emphasis in international relations in the region from military-political to economic ones. One may safely say that in South-East Asia there has been a transition from the geopolitical to the geo-economic paradigm of the international relations development.
The essence of this transition is that the regional states stepped back from the ideolo- gization and politicization of their strategy for internal development and foreign economic activity and took a course towards ensuring high rates of economic growth through the economic relations internationalization and providing maximum free circulation of goods, fund, labor, technology, etc.
The desire to further strengthen regional economic cooperation is reflected in the Singapore declaration as well, which is the main political document of the IV Conference of Heads of State and Government of ASEAN Member Countries (January, 1992).
The integration process in Central Asia is based primarily on economic imperatives. The pronounced resource based orientation determined the strong dependence of the Central Asian states economies on the supply of products from the other former USSR republics, primarily from the Russian Federation.
The issues of restructuring of economies, enhancing their complexity, establishing the missing manufacturing sectors producing products of high readiness, have to be solved under the presence of incomplete mechanism of new economic relations.
The most important factor in improving the economy and strengthening the security of Central Asian states in the world community is the deepening of integration processes in the region. Otherwise, the role of each new Central Asian state individually will not be as authoritative as the states integration association as a whole and security for each state will unlikely be reliably ensured.
Efforts of the Presidents of Kazakhstan - N. Nazarbayev, Uzbekistan - I. Karimov, and Kyrgyzstan - A. Akayev contributed to formation of a union of Central Asian states and specific mechanisms represented by the Interstate Council of the three Central Asian states and its Executive Committee, enabling a single economic space in the region. This union is open to be joined by other CIS states.
Right at the moment it is important to proceed to the establishment of general rules and conditions for cooperation between Central Asian countries and the external world in order to exclude the danger of turning it (Central Asia) into a region with a low economic development level and huge external debts.
The Central Asian integration association will assist in creating additional comparative advantages of economies for all member countries and enter the trajectory of dynamic economic growth.
The integration processes in Central Asia go far beyond the scope of the economy alone. New aspects appear - political, legal, humanitarian, informational, and, of course, regional security provision.
At the meeting of the Presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on April 29-30, 1994, Kyrgyzstan joined the previously signed Single Economic Space Treaty signed between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Thereafter, it was re-signed and became trilateral. It is noteworthy that the integration of the three Central Asian states is deepening not only in the economic, but also in the defense field. The Council of defense Ministers has been established, under the leadership of which specific proposals for military cooperation are being developed.
At the meeting of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Interstate Council on december 15, 1995, in Zhambyl (Kazakhstan) the Regulation on the Council of defense Ministers of these three states was approved. In accordance with it, the Council of defense Ministers as a working body of the Interstate Council shall consider all issues of regional security, defense interaction and military cooperation. As part of the latter field, it will coordinate operational and combat training, air defense, mutual deliveries, as well as weapons and equipment repairs, military research and other directions.
The meeting participants signed resolution on the joint peacekeeping battalion establishment of the three countries under the auspices of the UN and the agreements between these republics on the collective peacekeeping battalion organization and formation.
The Presidents of the three Central Asian states accepted an appeal to Boutros-Boutros Ghali, the UN Secretary General, with a request to send a group of UN specialists to their countries for consultations with representatives of the ministries of foreign affairs and defense, as well as for joint preparation of the documentation required for joining the UN Reserve Forces Agreement.
The decision to form a joint peacekeeping battalion was made initially on the basis of concern about the situation in Tajikistan.
In order to ensure national and regional security, it is vitally important for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to direct and coordinate their efforts in the following directions:
in terms of individual defense – the building and strengthening of the national Armed Forces;
in terms of collective defense – the building a collective security system under the CIS. Since the Collective Security Treaty, signed on May 15, 1992 in Tashkent, still does not have implementation mechanisms and is “quietly asleep”, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan should continue their efforts to coordinate defense activities in the Central Asia Region;
in terms of creating a system of Euro-Central Asian security, providing military policy and military development transparency, as well as peacekeeping activity – with the OSCE and NATO member states;
in terms of creating an Asian security system, strengthening interaction and confidence-building measures – with Asian states, and above all, adjoining ones;
in terms of creating a global security system – with all UN member states.
Central Asian states have a lot in common in terms of historical fate, culture, language, religion. The uniformity of the Central Asian countries economies obviously militates against their integration - all of them are mainly resource based. Achieving a close cooperation level between the resource based economies is not so simple. But, nevertheless, this process has begun, new projects are being started, small in scale, but quite sufficient to solve the problems of regional development and mutually complement each other.
At the same time, regional integration for a rather long time will not be able to provide the regional self-sustainability. And therefore, every Central Asian state is interested in participating in broader integration associations. In this term, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have shown political will and great interest in deepening integration in the economic and humanitarian spheres with the Russian Federation and Belarus. This is the second integration association where Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have shown a desire to take a broader interest, and not at the expense of losing their sovereignties, but to the extent that it is beneficial to all the parties.
On March 29, 1996, in Moscow, the Integration deepening Agreement was signed by Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. On April 2 the Presidents of Russia and Belarus signed the Sovereign Republics Association (SRA) Treaty. What is it about - the restoration of the USSR or the integration?
Let us first understand what integration is. After all, different contents are often embedded in the same term. So, the Latin word “integra” means unification into a whole. Such a whole was the USSR, which collapsed due to internal reasons, one may say, under its own weight. 15 new independent states were formed on its ruins.
If we understand the "whole" as a reinforced- concrete monolith, which was the USSR, where everything was controlled by Moscow, which, in fact, was one of the main reasons of USSR collapse, none of the former Soviet republics is able to go for the same in the market economy conditions. Even the Russia Regions will not go for it.
If integration means preserving the common economic, humanitarian and defense territory, establishing coordinating and even governing bodies in the mutually agreed spheres of life of our states, this is a completely different matter. It should be emphasized that the most important principles of mutually beneficial integration are equality, mutual respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
Let us discuss the experience of West European integration. After all, this is not “the motherland of Europe”, that is, not a unified state, but “Europe of the motherlands” - an integration association of independent and sovereign states, hence the strength, stability, and successes of the European Community.
Quite powerful political forces in Russia are calling for restoring the USSR openly or under the auspices of the need for reintegration of the former Soviet Union. The results of the elections to the State duma of the Russian Federation are that an attempt to restore the USSR cannot be excluded. After all, the political parties, the CPRF and the LdPR, dominating in the new duma, and a number of associations, have stated in their program documents their obligations to denounce the Belavezha Accords and revive the USSR.
However, the price of an attempt to restore the USSR will be high above all for Russia itself. In case of denunciation of the Belavezha Accords, the Russian Federation and its Constitution will lose their legal legitimacy. Russia will weigh itself down to a very uncertain international legal status in the former Soviet Union and in the world as a whole. What legal status will it have in the UN Security Council, status of the Russian Federation or the USSR passed into oblivion? What will happen to the treaties and agreements signed by the Russian Federation in its new capacity after the collapse of the USSR? The USSR restorers have no answers to these questions.
Russia does not have sufficient economic and financial resources in to restore and maintain an empire. This is obviously an expensive affair. It has long been obvious that modern Russia cannot fully support itself, and not just that of an empire. Its external debt is steadily growing, exceeding permissible limits.
It is also impossible to imagine that the new independent states will voluntarily give up the status of independent entities of international law and membership in the UN and other universal and regional international organizations.
Economic sanctions against the new independent states in order to force them to restore the USSR will not bring success and, in accordance with the blowback, will negatively affect the economic situation of Russia itself, since not only do they depend on it, but it depends on them as well.
It will also be impossible to restore the USSR by force of arms. Military actions against the new independent states, the UN members, will deteriorate the international standing of the Russian Federation. In this case, Russia will clearly find itself in international isolation and will feel all the beauty of sanctions from international organizations and individual states.
Attempts to partially restore the former USSR by accession to the Russian Federation of territories of the former Soviet republics populated mainly by Russian people, such as Transnistria in Moldova or Northern Kazakhstan, will inevitably lead to the emergence of an "enmity" towards Russia, which is certainly not in its strategic interests.
The implementation of the course towards the USSR restoration may stimulate the desire of the national republics of the Russian Federation (Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and others) to access it as allied states. That is, the level of their claims regarding their sovereignty will rise.
Consideration of all these possible consequences of efforts to restore the USSR leads to a conclusion that they are unrealistic and dangerous, first, for Russia itself. It is impossible to revive a dead man i.e. the USSR.
It seems that the Russian political forces are delusional about the fact that under the weight of social-economic and other problems the rest of the former Soviet republics will voluntarily give up their sovereignty and agree to restore the USSR in some new shape.
Since the beginning of time, nations have appreciated independence above all else. And, finally, are there really no acute social-economic problems in Russia itself, is it calm and prosperous, is it ready to become a locomotive that will pull the rest of the Commonwealth from the social-economic crisis?
It is necessary to emerge from the crisis together and on an equal footing, embarking on the path of deepening mutually beneficial integration, and not restoring the USSR, to look into the future, and not into the past, which no forces can restore.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan signed the Integration deepening Treaty with Russia and Belarus. In this regard, the question arises: will this militate against the integration processes in Central Asia? Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan occupy a middle position between the Slavonic and Turkic world, and this imposes a high responsibility on them. Huntington, the American Professor, prophesied the faultline of mankind according to the types of traditional (religious) cultures and the coming escalation of intercivilization conflicts.
The emergence of such a danger in the former Soviet Union was quite possible after the signing the Agreement in Belovezhskaya Pushcha by the leaders of the three Slavonic states.
N. Nazarbayev, the President and the Leader of Kazakhstan, prevented this danger by securing the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States in a larger membership, which included Central Asian states as well. Three of them make up the Central Asian Union, which solves the problems of regional integration, but operates within the CIS, like the Benelux countries in the European Community.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan decided to deepen integration with Russia and Belarus, while remaining in the Central Asian Union. Why them in particular? Not only the geographical factor and special economic interests are among the significant reasons, but also the fact that they have the largest share of the Slavonic population. And this is the main thing that is reflected in the humanitarian sphere of our relations with Russia and Belarus.
For historical reasons both Turkic and Slavonic nations live in modern Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. To prevent the faultline of the Slavonic and Turkic world in our country and in the entire former Soviet Union is the historical mission of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are like a bridge between the Slavonic and Turkic worlds, and they don’t want the two-way traffic on this bridge to be interrupted, and principally, for the sake of peace, prosperity and further mutual enrichment of the Turkic and Slavonic cultures.
After gaining state independence, all five Central Asian states joined the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which was established back in the 60s by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.
Membership in the ECO contributes to the development of the economy and trade, the market economy infrastructure and, which is especially important for Central Asian states, creates new communication opportunities (and these are railways, aviation, and access to the seaports of these states).
In order to harmonize the relations of the new independent Central Asian states with Russia and other CIS states in line with the integration processes, Kazakhstan at one time proposed the formation of Eurasian Union.
On March 29, 1994, at the meeting with Moscow State University academic teaching staff and students, which took place as part of the first official visit of N. Nazarbayev, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to the Russian Federation, the Kazakhstani Leader came up with a proposal to create a completely new association from the CIS countries - the Eurasian Union. Later he sent a specific project for its establishment as well to all the heads of the CIS states.
It essentially deals with the strategic course of relations between Central Asian states with Russia and other former Soviet republics, the future relations between the Asian and European parts of the former USSR, and the principles and geopolitical contours of these relations.
It seems that the most important thing in the Eurasian Union project creation is not only economic benefits, but also the prevention of a break in the former Soviet Union on a civilizational basis, that is, into states and regions of Catholic Christianity, Orthodox Christianity and Muslim.
For all states and nations of the former Soviet Union, now and in the future, to avoid a break on a civilizational basis means to survive and provide themselves with a secure future.
It seems that it was this awareness of the fact that led N. Nazarbayev, the Leader of Kazakhstan, to come up with a proposal to create the Eurasian Union and build it on completely different principles from the CIS, based on the formation of interstate bodies with the aim of coordinating the economic, defense and foreign policies of member states. The essence of the Eurasian Union is economic and humanitarian integration while preserving political sovereignty and guaranteed collective security.
In Central Asia, the association between integration and its impact on security is most pronounced. The creation of a unified energy system will ensure the energy independence of the region and thereby strengthen its security. Joint control over water resources, naturally arising from integration in the field of energy, will strengthen the internal security of the region, since potentially many conflicts are ripening due to the lack of water resources. In this case, the security factor appears in the context of the integration process most visibly. And, finally, it seems that in the future the integration process development in our region should cover broader spheres and gradually deepen, affecting and solving economic, humanitarian and other problems, thereby creating a reliable and solid foundation for regional security in Central Asia as an integral part of sub-regional security in the former Soviet Union and around the world.
The current geopolitical situation around Central Asia is such that the integration processes in Central Asia should be deeper and more dynamic than similar processes in the CIS. At the same time, as a matter of course, the bilateral relations of each Central Asian state with Russia and multilateral relations should develop as part of the Economic Cooperation Organization.
Obviously, the need for the unification of the Central Asian states into the Central Asian States Association (similar to ASEAN) has arisen, which was discussed at the meeting of the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on May 15, 1995 in Shymkent. This will contribute to deepening the integration processes in Central Asia, strengthening the state sovereignty of the Central Asian Union states, close coordinating their foreign economic and foreign policy, and providing military, economic, environmental and other aspects of regional security.
An association is not a federation, a confederation, or a bloc of states, but a more toned- down form of association of states that does not limit relations with non-member states. Therefore, it is quite acceptable at this stage of development of the Central Asian states in the current geopolitical situation.
It is necessary to develop and begin to implement the Program of Action of the Central Asian states on providing military security and protecting external borders using own resources, as well as intensify efforts to create regional peacekeeping forces for use in case of conflicts in the Central Asia Region.
It is necessary to agree on closer coordination of the activities of the foreign affairs agencies of the Central Asian states on the implementation of:
- The Kazakhstan initiative to convene the Meeting for interaction and confidence-building measures in Asia;
- The Uzbekistan initiative to create a permanent UN seminar on security, prosperity and cooperation in Central Asia in Tashkent.
Given that the current situation on the Tajik- Afghan border and its possible massive breakthrough facilitated by the Tajik opposition can have the most dangerous destabilizing effect on the situation in Central Asia, it is necessary to intensify diplomatic and other efforts to quickly resolve the inter-Tajik conflict. The decisive role in its elimination should be played primarily by the Central Asian states themselves, with some assistance from other interested states.
Central Asian states have certain prerequisites to carry out a peacekeeping role in resolving the inter-Tajik conflict in order to strengthen regional security.