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Central asia - 2025 forecasts for the development of the region and individual states of central asiaandchanges in the internationaland geopolitical situation by 2025

Abstract. Currently, sweeping changes in the balance of power are taking place at the heart of Eurasia. Central Asia is going through a fundamental geopolitical shift resulting in the new roles of China, Iran, Russia, South Africa and USA and new relationships with them. Collectively, these changes will lead to the geopolitical reorientation of the region from Eurasia and USA to Asia.

In the short term (till 2025), CA States will try to preserve the current power balance. In turn, international and regional players which are interested in region, proceeding from their perspectives and opportunities, will provide security and stability of the regions to advance their own practical use. Meanwhile, in the medium turn (after 2025) Central Asian Republics will be faced with the global impact of the world political transitions.

Tajikistan - 2025

Tajikistan as a state has a very small set of advantages - inexpensive labor, the availability of a number of minerals and favorable weather conditions for the development of agriculture. Experts consider the negative factors as underdevelopment of infrastructure, a narrow internal market, high risks of political destabilization, corruption and bureaucracy and the lack of real mechanisms for entrepreneurs to protect their rights. [1]

At the same time, the economy OfTajikistan depends largely on transfers of labor migrants. If in previous years (2011-2014) transfers reached 4.5 billion dollars per year, then by 2016 the amount of transfers, according to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, decreased to 1.8 billion dollars. Total external debt OfTajikistan as of July 1, 2017 is $2.3 billion, or 35.8% of GDP.

According to its water reserves, Tajikistan, whose territory is almost six percent covered by glaciers, ranks first in Central Asia. Hydroelectric power plants produce more than 90% of all electricity produced in the country. Therefore, in the development of water management analysts see an essential element of the development strategy OfTajikistan as a whole.

On September 1, 2017, Tajikistan began a series of meetings with investors in Europe and the US, dedicated to the debut issue of Eurobonds for $500 million for a period of 10 years. Using funds from the placement of Eurobonds in foreign markets, Dushanbe plans to complete the construction of the Rogun HPS. However, IfTajikistan spends money not on purpose or does not timely service debt on eurobonds, it will get very serious problems for decades ahead.

One of the specific features of the manifestation of the Islamic factor in Tajikistan is the legal activity of a political party of an Islamic character - the IRPT In recent years, the regime of E.Rahmon has practically marginalized and displaced from the political arena (Islamic) opposition (IRPT). But experts believe that the inclusion of the opposition in state administration would only benefit the current authorities in this difficult period.

On the geopolitical field, Dushanbe is in some way in touch with the interests of the world's leading and regional players - the Russian Federation, China, the United States, the EU, NATO, Iran, India and Pakistan. Recently, Saudi Arabiajoined to them.

Riyadh, ready to finance hydropower and mining sectors of Tajikistan. However, the rapprochement between Dushanbe and Riyadh can complicate its already difficult relations with its neighbors. Especially with Russia, Uzbekistan and Iran. The expert believes that rapprochement with Riyadh is considered in Dushanbe and as a subject ofbidding - with the same Tehran, as well as with Moscow, and as a lever against the involvement of Tajikistan in the Eurasian Economic Community.

China became the main trade and economic partner of Tajikistan, pushing Russia to second place. It is expected that by 2020 the trade turnover between Beijing and Dushanbe will reach $3 billion. The total amount of Chinese accumulated direct investment for the first three months of 2017 amounted to $76.6 million, or 58.2% of total foreign investment.

Cooperation between Beijing and Dushanbe is also reduced to drawing Tajikistan into the zone of interests of China. Experts believe that the provision of loans by Beijing, in fact, pushes Tajikistan into a debt hole that will lead to enslaving the republic. Given the fact that Dushanbe has no money and is not expected to appear in large quantities, it is obviously necessary to pay the Chinese side's admission to raw materials, the transfer of controlling stakes in strategic enterprises or the transfer of certain transport routes and even the territories OfTajikistan under China's control.

Strengthening the US position in Central Asia through Tajikistan does not meet the interests of the Russian Federation. Russia is worried about the growing threats to the countries of Central Asia coming from Afghanistan. According to experts, Tajikistan is threatened by internal instability, which is strengthened by the participation of Saudi Arabia in the affairs of the Republic.

The Afghan problem remains actual and current for the republic, and will remain such until 2025. The problem is being solved through the development of the energy sector. In Afghanistan and in neighboring countries, they hope: if electricity goes on, energy-intensive mills start operating, then Afghans will postpone poppy production and weapons for peaceful labor.

Observers evaluate as a disturbing the estrangement tendency of Dushanbe from Moscow. Compared with the PRC, during the same period, Russia invested only $20.6 million in Tajikistan. Almost all observers say about the reduction of Russian investments in the republic. The reason for the reduction is high tax rates. Nevertheless, Russia will continue to play an important role for Tajikistan, while hundreds of thousands of migrant workers work in Russia.

Thus, in the last two years Dushanbe has drastically changed the country's development strategy. The main direction now is not social and economic development, but the preservation of stability and security. It is assumed that this trend will affect the development of the country until 2025.

Turkmenistan - 2025

The main restrictor in the international arena and in matters of Turkmenistan's military cooperation remains the neutrality proclaimed in 1995, which implies the rejection of participation in wars, and in peacetime non-participation in military blocs.

Today, the Turkmen authorities are trying to enlist the support of Russia, the United States and neighbors in the region in containing Afghan threats, but, above all, rely on their own forces [2].

This approach is conditioned not only by the policy of neutrality, but also by the unwillingness to excessively strengthen the military influence of any country that, like in any other Central Asian state, can violate the balance of power, diligently supported by the authorities of the region.

Turkmenistan, which declared its neutrality, is not a member of any military-political bloc. In Moscow, they believe that the aggravation of the situation in this country can destabilize the whole Central Asia. In northern Afghanistan, the situation is greatly exacerbated, in three years the number of attacks on the bordering to the north of Turkmenistan increased 17 times. For Russia, the sphere of security and military cooperation in Central Asia is a topic of special sensitivity, so an important task will be to demonstrate the restoration and improvement of relations between Russia and Turkmenistan.

As for other republics of the region, the threat posed by Afghanistan remains topical for Turkmenistan. Although the constructive work of Ashgabat with the border provinces creates a positive atmosphere, but the issue of stabilization lies in the geopolitical plane. The activity of military groups in the region, analysts suppose, is connected with the opposition to the construction of the TAPI gas pipeline (Turkmenistan-Afghani- Stan-Pakistan-India).

Turkmenistan, according to experts, can refuse Russian aid also because it has already been promised to him by the NATO coalition in Afghanistan: The West, presumably, will not allow any massive attack on Turkmenistan. The escalating tension is not interested to the Iran, which is ambivalent towards Russia, and is also ready to help Turkmenistan.

The most acute problem for Ashgabat is the sharp deterioration of the social and economic situation in the country, the drop in export earnings from the sale of gas.

At present, China has been the only buyer of Turkmen gas. The existing gas pipeline threads are not yet fully operational. The throughput capacity of gas pipelines A and B is now 15 billion cubic meters of gas, and C is 25 billion cubic meters. The total throughput of three gas pipelines, through which Turkmen gas goes to China, is 55 billion cubic meters of gas. They pass through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, which are also gas producing countries. Both states supply China with 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year, but Astana has already stated that it would like to sell more blue fuel to Beijing. So, only 35 billion cubic meters of gas remains a share OfTurkmenistan per year. In 2016, according to experts, Ashgabat supplied Beijing with about 30 billion cubic meters. In the near future, if there is an increase in supplies, then a maximum of 5 billion m3.

Relations between Turkmenistan and Russia in the past were determined by two factors of soft power. This agreement on dual citizenship, which expired in 2014, and economic cooperation, the main component of which was the purchase of Turkmen gas by Russia, discontinued in January 2016. The absence of these factors resulted in the loss of Russia's influence on Turkmenistan.

Thus, the contradictions between Moscow and Ashgabat are not eliminated, because of which the Turkmen side considers itself infringed - it is a question of Gazprom's refusal to purchase Turkmen gas, according to the contract concluded for 25 years. Russia, which purchased from Turkmenistan more than 40 billion cubic meters of gas per year, reduced the volume of purchases to 10-12 billion cubic meters of gas, and then completely refused Turkmen hydrocarbons.

Thus, the main interest of Ashgabat until 2025 is to persuade, not for the first time, the management of Gazprom in the need to resume export to Russia.

On the other hand, Russia is trying to tie Turkmenistan to its military-industrial complex. In times of crisis, Russian arms for Turkmenistan, as a rule, go through leasing. It is advantageous for Russia and Turkmenistan to maintain such contacts. In addition, cooperation in the defense sphere compensates for Turkmenistan's participation in the ODBC and the SCO. However, it is too early to talk about creating a unified anti-aircraft defense system with Ashgabat, as Turkmenistan tries in every possible way to avoid participation in any alliances.

Thus, Ashgabat remains with 35 billion cubic meters of gas per year for China, part of which is supplied as payment for loans. In the future decade, a major gas projects is not expected.

It is obvious that until 2025 and after Ashgabat will try to solve the problem of export pipelines for its gas. The European market in this context has long attracted Turkmenistan, especially since many years have been tempting proposals (anti-Russian and anti-Iranian) from Washington and Brussels.

According to experts, the problem lies in the absence of a system through which 30-40 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas can be supplied to Europe annually. In the crisis, when the parties do not have the means to build infrastructure, the option with the use of Azerbaijan's export capacity is more realistic. Baku does not object to such cooperation, but expects to resolve in its favor the dispute over the issue of belonging to the gas-bearing deposit in the Caspian.

This is taking place against the background of the deterioration of Ashgabat's relations with Tehran. Gas dispute between Iran and Turkmenistan is toughened. Tehran proposes Ashgabat to reduce gas price and resume supplies.

Surrendering to the promises of the US and the EU, Ashgabat is betting on projects that initially contradict Iran's interests - the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline (under the Caspian) and TAPI (Turkmen- Istan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). First, creates a conflict situation with Russia. At the same time, they behave in Ashgabat outside the categories of real politics, not realizing that in addition to mythical money for gas exports in these areas, such a decision will create serious problems for Turkmenistan itself.

Under the pretext of preparations for the Asian Games-2017, the head OfTurkmenistan dealt with the hidden opposition. According to observers, many of the convicts by origin belong to the Mary elite (Mary vilayat), consisting in a covert opposition to the ruling Ahal clan. GBerdimuhamedov thus decided to get rid of the possible political opposition.

In 2017 GBerdimuhamedov turned to the issue of social benefits of the population of Turkmenistan. He said that he considers the existing system to be ineffective, and therefore it must be canceled.

Analysts predict that until 2025 Turkmenistan will not transition to the market, since it implies a weakening of the state control over society, economic life and business activity.

Kazakhstan - 2025

Kazakhstan has come a long way in the 25 years of its sovereignty. The country's governance can note the impressive economic development, stability, strengthened sovereignty and respect for the brand "Kazakhstan" in the international arena. Looking far beyond 2025 and further, Kazakhstani authorities have formed an ambitious concept to transform the country into one of the most developed countries in the world [3].

Occupying a strategically important position between Russia, China and Central Asia, Kazakhstan was forced by the geography and geopolitics to develop far-reaching strategies for its development. At the same time, the country faces difficult problems, such as weak institutionalization, patronage, authoritarianism and regional pitfalls of socio-economic standards, constantly endangering stability and the achieved level of prosperity. Herewith, there is a constant transformation of Kazakhstan society.

In the sphere of economic development, it can be predicted that long-term economic development will require transformation of Kazakhstan's economic structure and management system. Kazakhstan has the potential to become the breadbasket of Eurasia. Nevertheless, despite recent improvements, the agricultural sector needs major restructuring. New opportunities for the development of a modem economy of production and services will arise due to the location OfKazakhstan in the very center of a huge continental economic space. In order to ensure the emergence of Kazakhstan and the rest of Central Asia as a land bridge connecting China and India with Europe, Kazakhstan should strengthen within regional contacts and interaction at all levels. In the subsequent period after 2025, Kazakhstan and its region will inevitably and strongly be subject to globalization, as well as counter currents towards it.

At the same time, it is impossible not to take into account the potential and existing risks. Thus, political and economic leaders OfKazakhstan perceive the premature decentralization of political power as a risky step, impregnated with the potential for putting the state out of action.

In view of this changing geopolitical dynamics in 2010, Kazakhstan finds it increasingly difficult to maintain the previous balance in its relations with various major powers. Apparently, this trend will continue until 2025. The fact that this new problem arose from the actions of the partners of Kazakhstan, and not from any activity of Astana, complicates the search for a solution to it.

In the long term (i.e. after 2025), energy will cease to be the main driver of the country's growth. One of the non-carbon sectors, capable of developing the export potential, is agriculture. In order to become a leader in the export of agricultural products, it is recommended to establish a single agricultural educational and research center as the leading institution that facilitates the transformation OfKazakhstan1S agriculture, and receives sufficient funding to achieve its goals.

In April 2017, the President OfKazakhstan issued an order to develop the standard of the Kazakh alphabet on the basis of the Latin alphabet by the end of 2017 and translate by 2025 into the Latin alphabet the printing of all books, business documents, periodicals. The results of the "cultural revolution" planned in Kazakhstan can be assessed only in the long term. There is another danger: a radical change in the cultural and linguistic sphere of the country inevitably entails the mastering by the external forces of its political and religious spaces.

The central issue, that all external observers put, is the forthcoming transit of power in the Republic of Kazakhstan (before or after 2025). An optimal scenario arises, when the political elite develops a consolidated solution and finds a compromise figure that suits the main influence groups. But it will be difficult to implement such a scenario. First, Kazakhstan is an open state, in which the factor of public policy, media, including opposition, is of great importance. Secondly, the elite OfKazakhstan is not consolidated, at least outwardly. There are competing business groups with their representation in the governance of the republic and media assets. Thirdly, Kazakhstan, according to a number of authoritative experts, does not have large stabilizing figures on the political field [4].

In the socio-political space of Kazakhstan there are several small nationalist groups, whose current efforts are concentrated on nationalist propaganda. Among the organizational-administrative and material-financial means of supporting the camp of Kazakh nationalists, internal sources prevail. However, the Western structures are also potentially interested in helping to the nationalists. In general, the representatives of the national-patriotic camp, despite their small numbers, remain prominent players on the local political scene. The financial administrative, financial and ideological channels of nationalists can be successfully activated by foreign and Kazakh forces in case of aggravation of the situation in the republic in conditions of transit of power.

Russia and China until 2025

For the cooperation of Russia and China in Central Asia, it is extremely important that both countries have in many ways consensual and harmoniously co-ordinated strategic and geopolitical interests. First, both sides are interested in counteracting the growth of unconventional security threats. For Russia this is especially important, since these threats are of a transboundary nature. Secondly, Russia and the PRC are not interested in strengthening the influence in the region of a potentially hostile third force. Beijing strategically considers Central Asia and the post-Soviet space as a whole a fairly reliable backbone for implementing its policy in the Asia-Pacific region (APR).

Moscow perceives the countries of the region as CSTO allies or as neutral states in terms of ensuring a balance of power with NATO in the European theater. The economic interests of Russia and China in Central Asia have traditionally been more competitive than relations in the field of politics and strategy. Russia is interested in the reintegration of the post-Soviet space on a new economic basis. Since the collapse of the USSR, China has shown interest in accessing Central Asian resources, establishing effective trade and investment cooperation with the countries of the region, building a powerful transport and pipeline infrastructure, both transit and connecting the region with China.

Experts suggest a number of principles on which cooperation between the Russian Federation and the PRC in the region should be based until 2025 and in the future. An important principle of cooperation should be a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between security problems and political stability with the problems of socio-economic and cultural development. The main criterion for the effectiveness of cooperation between Moscow and Beijing in Central Asia can only be assistance to the countries of the region in ensuring economic development and socio-political stability.

To areas in which the interests of Russia and the PRC do not overlap, is primarily labor migration. The second sphere, in which the interests of the two countries do not overlap, are arms deliveries. Here Russia plays a dominant role. The third is the regional transport infrastructure, to which China invests heavily. Russia prefers to modernize and build new roads on its side of the border with Kazakhstan. Fourth sphere - machine building. China became the largest investor in the region. The Chinese not only buy goods and raw materials, traditionally exported to Russia, but also compete for markets with Russian enterprises.

The inflow of financial resources from China to Central Asia, on the one hand, contributes to the development of infrastructure, the maintenance of socio-economic stability, but on the other hand, puts the countries of the region in front of a number of challenges, such as the conservation of the resource structure of the economy, the reduction of incentives for economic modernization, etc. Over the past decade, Russia has weakened its economic position in Central Asia. At present, Russia and China have comparable economic positions in Central Asia. This further increases the responsibility of the two powers for strengthening the economy and social sphere of the countries of the region, stimulates their cooperation in ensuring development.

In terms of of the “Silk Road” Initiative, the Chinese governance will try to create a large international economic "niche" in Eurasia, where it will be possible to "invest" almost all projects planned in the foreign policy and foreign economic spheres of the PRC - from transport to humanitarian and tourist. Without the cooperation of the EU and the EAEC, it is likely that many of the key Chinese SREB and EU linkages, including transport, will be implemented bypassing the territory of the Russian Federation, which will miss the opportunity to obtain economic benefits and lose the chance to realize its transit potential.

The worsening security situation may threaten China's strategic plans for the implementation of the SREB project. In this connection, a whole set of 12 steps can be developed in the direction of developing cooperation between Russia and China - up to 2025 [4]. These steps are as follows:

  1. Form cooperation institutions aimed at overcoming the asymmetry of the EAEC and SREB. The EAEC as an international organization could take on the coordination of the bilateral partnership of its member states with the PRC through the mechanisms for harmonizing industrial and transport policies, labor market regulation policies, and so on.
  2. To expand the cooperation of the EAEC and China in the fields of science, education and high technologies. Therefore, it is necessary to expand interaction in education on the basis of the largest universities of Russia and China with the participation of partners from the EAEC member states and the SCO.
  3. Russia and the EAEC need to broadly connect their financial institutions to the financing of joint projects.
  4. Support Russian exports to Central Asia. In this regard, it is advisable to develop mechanisms for providing state guarantees to Russian businesses and insurance for their political and economic risks in Central Asia.
  5. To accelerate the implementation of joint Russian-Chinese transport projects. Proceeding from this, it is necessary to work out the issue of creating not only latitudinal, but also meridional transport communications (railways and river fleet) that will make it possible to use the opportunities of the Northern Sea Route more effectively.
  6. Coordination of labor migration policies and implementation of joint investment projects. It is proposed to create within the SCO an advisory multilateral structure with the participation of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the integrated solution of labor migration problems. Joint transport, industrial and other projects of SREB and EAEC should be aimed at creating newjobs in the countries of the region.
  7. Establish a pragmatic dialogue in the triangle of the EU-EAEC-China on the formation of the common Eurasian infrastructure and transport, freedom of movement of goods, capital, people and services. Thus, it is advisable to work out the possibility of signing a trilateral document on cooperation between the EU, the EAEC and the SCO.
  8. Agree on Russia-China security strategies in Central Asia. In the sphere of maintaining security in Central Asia, the role of Russia significantly exceeds the role of the PRC. The coordination of the general list of terrorist organizations, the exchange of information through the special services on recruiting, the transfer of militants to Afghanistan and the Middle East, and their financing belong to the complex of urgent antiterrorist measures. The SCO should become the main format for intensifying cooperation in this area.
  9. Strengthen the joint struggle against the threat of the spread of instability from the territory of Afghanistan. In this context, it is necessary to expand the interaction of the SCO and the CSTO in countering the interconnected security challenges.
  10. Counteraction to the spread of the ideology of radical Islam. Opposition to extremism is possible, the report notes, first, through Islamic education, and secondly, through secular education, the education of local societies, their familiarization with world culture.
  11. Coordination of work with civil society in Central Asia. The objectives of such cooperation are to overcome the risks of social destabilization and security challenges emanating from international terrorism, the prevention of ethnic conflicts, the formation of a common and holistic view of the Central Eurasia region and the opportunities arising from regional cooperation.
  12. To intensify the cooperation of experts from Russia, China and the countries of Central Asia. To Russia and China, it is advisable to create a permanent expert platform for dialogue on the interface issues of the EAEC and SREB, where experts could discuss current tasks in various areas - from infrastructure projects to humanitarian cooperation.

Thus, if the parties manage to use them correctly, there will be an opportunity to neutralize the growth of cross-border security threats in the region, which is a prerequisite for ensuring the sustainable economic development of all participants in the association of the Eurasian integration and the Silk Road Economic Belt.

USA in Central Asia until 2025

It is obvious that Central Asia is on the periphery of US economic interests. The region maintains limited trade and investment relations, concentrated mainly around oil production in Kazakhstan. Caspian oil plays the role of an attractive raw material bonus for US corporations, but its reserves are not strategically important for the US on a global scale, and the share of US companies in local oil production is gradually falling. Nevertheless, Washington is pursuing an energetic economic policy in the region that is disproportionate to the level of relations achieved in this sphere, actively interferes in the course of economic transformations in Central Asian countries and influences the choice of integration preferences [5].

The main instruments of American economic policy are infrastructural (primarily pipeline) planning, MFI programs, grants for liberal reforms, sanctions. There is no doubt that this tool will continue until 2025.

The strategy of the United States is focused not so much on expanding its own economic ties as on the tasks of geopolitical containment of Russia and China. The White House promotes transit corridors and integration plans, alternative to the proposals of Moscow and Beijing, and designed to reduce their impact on the economy of Central Asia.

The consistency and results of the actions of the American side suggest that the growth of the source of instability in the middle Eurasia is considered by it as a perfectly acceptable variant of the development of events, at least in case, the political protectorate and long-term military presence of the USA in this region are not guaranteed. If we exclude stocks of Caspian oil, inflated estimates of which at the initial stage attracted foreign capital, the region was and remains for the United States a deep economic periphery. Periodic spikes in the activity of US economic policy, no matter how they are served by the public, are mainly due to the desire to slow or undermine the emerging economic cooperation of Central Asia with Russia and China.

According to experts, the US achievements were broken because of the inability to keep the result, and successful moves were replaced by frank failures, a vivid example of which was in 2005, the Uzbek Andijan.

At such critical moments, the strengths and weaknesses of American foreign policy are clearly discernible. Its unconditional advantages remain a clear priority of its own national interests; the ability to mobilize allies to solve their tasks; adaptation to the diplomatic work of modem social, communication and digital technologies; and, of course, a clear ideological message attractive to many foreign citizens, despite the striking divergence of liberal rhetoric with the real deeds that it masks.

Among the weaknesses of the American course are inter-party and inter-agency competition in the US, which affects international relations; wasteful handling of material resources, which, even for the world's first economy, are not boundless; ignoring, sometimes demonstrative, Asian cultural and political traditions, although many American experts know that, for example, the projects of popularizing homosexual relations are poorly perceived in patriarchal Eastern society. But perhaps, the most obvious vulnerability, to which the American establishment is inclined, is the predominant sense of superiority and exclusivity that not only breeds a desire for world hegemony but also dulls the perception of reality.

One thing can be expected with a certain degree of confidence: Washington will retain for the period until 2025 the overall strategic plan for Central Asia. The actions of the White House in one way or another obeyed the logic of restraining US geopolitical competitors. First of all, they were aimed at breaking the region with Russia, and subsequently also at the curbing of China's growing influence and the isolation of Iran. Historically, the imperatives of the American strategy include providing access to raw materials, including the creation of routes for their transportation to the West. These basic principles of US policy will remain unchanged in the near future, as long as the political class in Washington perceives its country as a superpower with interests in all, even the most remote comers of the world. Unchanged, in all likelihood, will remain rigid and cynical methods of conducting geopolitical struggle in the spirit of a big "dirty" game.

It is assumed that for the period until 2025 Washington will act according to the following scheme:

  • build a hierarchy of cooperation; i.e. make cooperation with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan a priority.
  • recognize and accept the contribution and capabilities of other countries; i.e. recognize that the US in the region has some common goals with Russia and China, and find a way to use the actions OfBeijing and Moscow to realize American interests.
  • do not insist on reforms if they are not demanded; i.e. the demands of changes must come from the citizens of the Central Asian countries themselves, and the US reform program should be aimed primarily at improving the socio-economic situation, rather than spreading democracy.
  • find a balance between security and values; i.e. do not put cooperation in the field of security depending on the situation with human rights.
  • To avoid militarization of US policy as a response to the exaggerated threat of Islamic extremism i.e. Washington should not exaggerate the threat to US security stemming from Islamic radicalism in the region, and, accordingly, react to it too painfully.
  • it is more effective to use the available levers of influence, "to enhance its own value" and to put more realistic tasks, built according to the importance [6].


At the present time, there is a radical change in the EUs approaches to Central Asian politics. If in previous years the EU-Central Asia partnership strategy involved a serious component of projects in the field of political reform, the development of NGOs, human rights, the future priority will be given to the implementation of economic projects. Instead of imposing its agenda, its priorities, projects, the EU proposes a new approach when the integration of EU programs and strategic development goals takes place.

As priorities, some directions are highlighted, such as growth of incomes of the population, creation of workplaces, development of private sector, strengthening of regional trade in Central Asia. The EU projects involve work in these areas, the EU intends to promote economic activity in the country, create new jobs, especially in rural areas.

Experts propose nine recommendations for future cooperation of the EU with Central Asian countries in the field of politics and security. They can be considered as an EU strategy for the period until 2025.

First, the EU needs to reconsider its interests in Central Asia. The EU should do this taking into account four factors. In the beginning, when reviewing its interests, the EU should take into account the new context in Central Asia, as well as the new context in countries neighboring Central Asia. When revising its interests in Central Asia, the EU should realistically assess what it can achieve. Finally, the redefinition of EU interests should also take into account the interests of the Central Asian countries. However, it is important to distinguish between the interests of countries as a whole and the interests of elites, since they do not necessarily coincide.

Secondly, the EU strategy for Central Asia should focus on a smaller number of areas in order to increase efficiency. Third, in accordance with the previous paragraph, the main areas to be covered in future cooperation between the EU and Central Asia should be determined on the basis of where the EU can provide real value added and achieve concrete results, as well as in areas where Central Asian countries have real needs.

Fourthly, there is a need for additional scientifically based knowledge about Central Asia. Moreover, research in Central Asia should be more mainstreamed in the policy making process. Fifthly, the EU should continue to work in Central Asia from the top to the bottom, and from the bottom to the top. In addition to interacting with Central Asian countries at the government level, the EU must continue to support civil society. Sixth, the EU member states need to participate more in the implementation of this strategy. This should be particularly prevalent in areas where the member-countries have comparative advantages and where they are perceived as models for imitation by the countries of Central Asia.

Seventh, the EU should adhere to a more re- sults-based approach. Considering the lack of concrete results in many areas, the EU needs to focus more on achieving such results. Eighth, the EU should continue to develop regional cooperation with the countries of Central Asia. Ninth, the EU should continue to address the issue of borders. Considering the unique experience of the EU in addressing border issues and vital needs of the region in improving border management, the EU should continue to work actively in the field of border management.

Conclusions and forecasts

An attempt to forecast the development of the situation around Central Asia by 2025 looks to be as follows. The future of Central Asian countries depends on five interrelated factors: a change in governance, or a transition to a new generation of leaders; economic situation; corruption and management inefficiency; political repression; threats ofislamic extremism.

From a regional perspective, it remains to be seen whether these new leaders will adhere to more nationalist views than their predecessors, or whether the regional spirit of cooperation will prevail. Water management is likely to become a major challenge for the long-term future stability and development OfKazakhstan and Central Asia.

The most important conflict issue is the use of transboundary water resources, the conflict between the countries of the upper reaches of the SyrDarya and the Amudarya - Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and other downstream countries - Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan.

Today, the main disagreements between the countries of the region are concentrated around the processes of joint use of transboundary water resources, the issues of optimizing the regimes for using the cascade of reservoirs. In general, the main contradictions at the political level are manifested when questions are raised: who should manage water resources and how to distribute water in order to maintain the balance of interests of all countries.

To prevent water conflicts in the countries of Central Asia, it is necessary to undertake cardinal measures in the perspective of 2025, including: to determine the legislative norms for the development of irrigation. To overcome the water use crisis, the countries of the region should, on the basis of interstate agreements, determine the extent of expansion of crop areas and, if necessary, be ready to reduce them; use scientific advice on water resources management, take practical measures to save water resources, repair irrigation facilities and canals; to refuse the construction of grandiose hydraulic structures; to involve the countries from other regions and international organizations in the discussion of the problem; use a multilateral approach to solving water problems; take the necessary measures to prevent a water crisis.

The water problem can either create a serious threat to the security of the countries of the region, or contribute to the establishment of relations of peace and good-neighborliness in the region. Proceeding from this, the activities of the Interstate Commission on Water Problems can help to ease tensions in all spheres of life in the countries of the region. In this respect, it would be useful to create new regional structures on water issues, in particular, the Interstate Council on the Use of the Potential OfTransboundary Rivers.

In 2018-2025, interest in the hydrocarbon resources of Central Asia will continue, and the countries of the region and their neighbors will be involved in the discussion of new projects for the export ofhydrocarbon raw materials. While the final decision on many projects has not been made, since the issue of their financing has not yet been resolved, there is no clarity about the reliability and security of supply, the influence of Western countries are very high. Finally, forecasts for oil and gas production are still politicized. Based on the dynamics of production in the countries of the region in the last decade and taking into account objectively existing difficulties, one can not expect that most of the planned pipelines can be commissioned before 2025. By this time it will become clear to what level of hydrocarbon production the countries of Central Asia will emerge, and whether they will be sufficient to fill the existing and planned export pipelines.

Until 2025, Turkmenistan may face the problem of depletion of large deposits, which in the last decade have yielded the bulk of the gas produced. In addition, Turkmenistan will have to compete with Iran, which has developed plans to increase exports of its gas to Europe and China. Finally, Kazakhstan expects in the coming years to increase gas supplies to China. As a result, it can be expected that in Central Asia competition will increase for the right to supply hydrocarbons to China and India, which still have a need for hydrocarbon raw materials.

Uzbekistan's regional policy for the future will be different by a perceptible desire to resolve conflicts where possible. The relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will be of decisive importance. While Tashkent was openly skeptical for many regional initiatives, although recent developments show that this situation may well change over the next two decades. In the next decade, the future viability of Kazakhstan's foreign policy will depend both on the political elections OfKazakhstan itself and on more large-scale events outside the country.

Experts consider that statements about the formation of the geopolitical partner axis Astana-Tashkent are premature. Success would be the achievement of such a level of coordination of regional policies of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, in which two key countries of the region could seriously affect the situation in the region as a whole, including with regard to extra-regional centers of power. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will jointly solve issues of water and energy complex, interface of transport and communication policy and region-wide stability.

If Kazakhstan is ready for regional integration, then Uzbekistan, despite all the reforms, does not accept it. All attempts to create the Central Asian Union failed. The three leaders are already an international integration structure, which needs to transfer some of the powers. Uzbekistan, and even more Turkmenistan with its strategic system and neutrality will never be ready to transfer some of its powers somewhere up. The Turkmen elite is also set for isolation. We can only expect an increase in bilateral trade volumes between countries.

A threat to Uzbekistan may be represented by mercenaries who fought or are fighting in Syria and Iraq. A significant number of militants who fight or fought in Syria and Iraq are from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, statistics show that they do not return to Uzbekistan, knowing what they expect in the country.

External threats from extremists and terrorists affect all the Central Asian republics. This situation will undoubtedly be preserved before and after 2025. These countries and their leaders are well aware of the serious and real threat posed by the global "specter of Islamism". Religious extremism in Central Asia, despite the reality of its threats, still has not been unequivocally assessed in the political and social circles of the region.

Closer by 2025, the main line of development of trade relations for sufficiently long distances can still be made not by road, but railway transport.

China is working on this direction in its own interests, promoting its projects and initiatives. But his work in this respect is not transparent and its ultimate goals, results and consequences are unknown to Russia and to the countries of Central Asia.

In case Kyrgyzstan withdraws from the EAEC, it will join to the kind of block of China with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, through which the transcontinental highway to Europe should pass - bypassing Kazakhstan and Russia. In Bishkek, there are already advanced groups of Chinese businessmen ready to invest in local projects up to several billion dollars. Beijing, as some political analysts in Bishkek fear, may turn to an open demonstration of its influence in the region, especially if it gets hold of Kyrgyzstan's water and energy resources.

Despite the Kremlin's bombastic statements about promoting Eurasian integration on its terms, neighbors in the east, south and southwest will play an increasingly important role in the economic and political development of Central Asia and in the security situation in the region. In the next ten years the future of Central Asia will be determined by five trends that can be seen now.

These trends are as follows: China becomes the most significant geopolitical and economic actor in the region. The economic presence of this country in Central Asia has increased dramatically, and Beijing's large-scale plans for further expansion of influence will have important consequences - both economically and politically. Beijing will closely monitor the domestic political developments in the region and the change of leaders of Central Asian countries to make sure that they guarantee the protection of Chinese interests.

The conquest by China of strong, virtually monopolistic positions in the sphere of the extraction and purchase of natural gas of Turkmenistan in the 21st century seems to be a natural and almost inevitable process in view of the great investment potential of the PRC and the known problems of Turkmen gas exports in other directions. However, in the context of the declining importance of Russia in this strategically important sector of the Turkmen economy, the costs for Ashgabat from China's complete domination are becoming increasingly evident. Following the achievement of leadership in the energy partnership and the establishment of the credit dependence of Ashgabat, China is more increasing its presence in Turkmenistan, primarily through military and humanitarian cooperation.

As Turkmenistan's economic dependence on China grows, bilateral humanitarian cooperation is gradually stepped up. The Turkmen leadership, which for a long time actually shied away from its development, in recent years has been forced to make concessions and expand the population's access to learning Chinese. In general, the 25-year history of the development of Chinese-Turkmen relations in the post-Soviet period revealed both positive and negative (from the standpoint of Turkmen interests) sides of cooperation with China.

The positive side should be attributed to the ability of the PRC in a short time and, in fact, by its own efforts to achieve the implementation of complex multinational projects such as the TransAsian gas pipeline, which can bring economic benefits to all of their participants. The negative side is the narrow focus of China's economic interests in countries remote from it (control in the fuel and energy complex), the active use of instruments of credit and financial dependence. The degree of readiness of the PRC to participate in resolving numerous problems OfTurkmenistan, as well as other countries of Central Asia is not clear: socio-political, economic, environmental, in the sphere of security, etc., the relevance of which only grows with time.

The trend associated with Russia indicates that the economic difficulties and the negative consequences of its actions in Ukraine are likely to result in a further reduction of Russia's already diminished presence in Central Asia. Accordingly, its political influence in the region will also decrease. Perhaps the only thing in which Russia continues to play a unique and leading role is military security. Moscow ties with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan through the CSTO - a special bridge for Russia in Central Asia.

Politically, even if the Ukrainian conflict is resolved, Russia is unlikely to be an attractive partner for Central Asian neighbors who fear its territorial claims, belligerent nationalism and brutal tactics towards weaker countries. Most of the countries of the region that have depended on Russia in the past, of course, will not want to enter into direct confrontation with Moscow. But all of them, of course, will look for other partners capable of serving as a counterweight to an uneasy northern neighbor. So Russia's goal, which is to preserve the sphere of its privileged interests in Central Asia, seems difficult to achieve.

The third trend is connected with Iran. Gradual normalization and strengthening of relations with Iran promise the appearance of a number of important and favorable economic, political and strategic opportunities. The prospect of Iran's withdrawal from isolation and the renewal of ties with its neighbors is a significant geopolitical factor that creates both new opportunities and new problems. To determine what will be more is not yet possible. One thing is obvious: the foreign policy agenda in Central Asia is becoming more complicated: a new actor is entering the stage. Iran either takes an empty place, or displaces some of the current players.

The fourth trend concerns the situation in Afghanistan and remains the number one security problem for the leaders of Central Asian countries. Instability in the north of Afghanistan creates a double threat for Central Asia. The conflict spread to the very edge of the region, which could exacerbate problems with extremism in Central Asia. The situation in Afghanistan, considering its potential impact on the internal structure of the Central Asian states and on the region's partnership in defense and security, will continue to prevail over other problems in this area, including the geopolitical expansion of China and Russia. [12]

The fifth trend is the weakening of the West's interest. It is a remote region that has no access to the sea, it has no historical, cultural and ethnic ties with America and Europe, therefore, in the USA and the European Union there are no naturally formed groups advocating rapprochement with Central Asia. In addition, Central Asia is surrounded by large powers, which have more interests and close ties with it. These powers are wary of foreign attempts to create footholds in the strategically important territory for them. The US and Europe have no primary interests in Central Asia, but they have goals related to China, Iran and Russia. All this together leads to the fact that in the political agenda of the West, the neighbors of Central Asia are given much more importance than to the CA.

At the present stage, the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia connect diverse economic interests, security problems and geopolitical imperatives with Turkey and Iran. At the same time, the development of relations with them is constrained by a number of objective factors. There is one important obstacle - the presence in the region of other countries also seeking to strengthen their influence in the geopolitical space of Central Asia. Among them - India, Pakistan, South Korea, a number of Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, rivals and competitors of Iran and Turkey in regional and world politics. Of course, Russia remains the main partner of the Central Asian countries, making significant efforts to restore its political, economic and military presence in the region of Central Asia, as well as China, which seeks to expand its economic expansion zone here. This situation, of course, will remain until 2025.

In a situation where the relations between Russia and the West are exacerbating, for Central Asian countries the probability of a large-scale confrontation in Eurasia is no longer only a matter of possible temporary economic losses. There is no doubt that the alleged complication of the confrontation structure and the growing number of directly and indirectly involved actors will affect the vital interests of the countries of Central Asia. In the short term (i.e. by 2025), rivalry between the Russian Federation and the West will become a long-term, systemic factor and will significantly influence the national foreign policy and economic strategies of the Central Asian countries.

Despite the fact that sometimes the sphere of American interests in words is greatly expanding, Central Asia has no critical significance for the United States. It will remain unresponsive to American influence and values, efforts to build state and develop democracy. This means that it is necessary to adjust US policy in the region in order to bring the commitments that Washington takes on, in accordance with its real goals and limited capabilities. The countries of Central Asia are interested in maintaining friendly relations with America, at least in order to balance the influence of China and Russia; this should create real opportunities for US interaction with the countries of the region and respect for mutual interests.

In the field of the international situation of Kazakhstan, experts name two important variables - the fate of radical trends in the Muslim world and the global position of the United States. At the regional level, Kazakhstan should expect important, even fateful changes in China and in Russia. Russia is a country with a demographic and economic downturn, whose population will be much less Russian and much more Turkic and Muslim after 2025. This should have a significant impact on Russia's foreign policy towards the RK and CA as a whole.

Already after 2025, China will become a country with average income or higher than average income, which has experienced a sharp rise in development, whose focus will be on maintaining central control over a vast and diverse territory and meeting the needs of a rapidly aging population. Europe is unlikely to become a leading security player in Central Asia before and after 2025. Nevertheless, in view of its economic role, Europe will continue to play an important role in Kazakhstan's balanced foreign policy.

In the short term (until 2025), the Central Asian countries will strive to maintain the existing balance of power. In turn, international and regional players interested in the region, based on their interests and capabilities, will ensure the security and stability of the region in order to promote their practical interests. At the same time, in the medium term (after 2025), the Central Asian republics will have to face the global impact of world political transformations.

Ideally, the ruling elites in Central Asia would like to preserve geopolitical neutrality, focus on economic development and maintain social stability. However, there is also an understanding that in the modem world this is extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible. Increasing competition of major players leads to increasing politicization of economic issues. Therefore, geopolitical neutrality does not save economic development, but rather - restrains it. The period until 2025 will show whether the big players are ready to accept a regional request for de-ge- opolitization, and whether the ruling elites of Central Asia will be able to defend their vision of geopolitical neutrality.



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