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The European Union and Central Asia: Horizons of Cooperation – New Challenges and New Dimensions

The creation of the European Union was formed in the dilemmatic idea of "widening and deepening". The context of the broader relationships of people and states resulting in the formation of a planetary information space, global market, in the internationalization of environmental problems, of ethnics and religious conflicts. Along with this it is necessary to em

phasize the heterogeneity of the world where incompatible development patterns compete to be embodied in the political and social structure of individual countries.

As for the European Union it should be noted that by taking a rather conventional position in the international hierarchy it plays a significant

role in developing the integrity of the principles and rules of states and of the implementation of these rules in international communication.

Referring to the role of Central Asia and the Republic of Kazakhstan, in particular, in contemporary international relations it is necessary to note the statement of President N. A. Nazarbayev on foreign policy:

"…After a period of confrontation a chance occurred to establish a truly new world order built on trust and maintaining security, and rich dialogue among countries – both developed and developing, with well-established statehood

and young. The geopolitical location of Asia and Europe, economic and military–political interests and the existing potential in the system of modern international relations as a middle regional power actively contribute to the creation of a zone of good neighborliness with the principle of equal security" [1].

Relations between the EU and Central Asian countries are being developed under the influence of three main factors:

– further extension of the EU to the East,

– The spread of the influence of the EU to

the post-Soviet States and Eastern Europe;

– adoption of a single European foreign policy in the security sphere.

From the standpoint of security, Central Asia is for the EU one of the elements of the wider geostrategic complex that includes Russia, South Asia, as well as some global issues: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international crime and drugs.

At the regional level Kazakhstan is a priority country in the Strategy of the New Partnership: the European Union and Central Asia.

Speaking about the expansion of cooperation in the humanitarian dimension it should be noted that it is not unilateral. That is, it does not mean only adaptation to Western living standards, media freedom, human rights, leg-

islative changes, and judicial system changes.

Kazakhstan, in turn, can offer to multinational European countries the experience of creating a model of interethnic and interreligious harmony. Moreover, it is possible to agree with the opinion of experts that the inter-ethnic model which has been formed in Kazakhstan is even more successful, more balanced than in many other European countries.

Cooperation with the EU can advance subject to the agreed policy with our neighbors.

The countries of Central Asia could jointly

move from separate independent contacts with the leading European States to a group agreement of the political and socio–economic programs and projects with EU countries [2].

Now it is obvious that the positive results from the Strategy "the European Union and Central Asia: Strategy for a new partnership" (2007-2013) have laid the foundations, directions and mechanisms of cooperation of the European Union with the region as a whole and with individual Central Asian States. However, we proceed with these questions: has it achieved what it said it would be and what are the new ways of achieving its goals? At the same time there is a critical view of the failures of the Strategy, and hence this raises the question of how necessary the presence of the EU in the Central Asian region is, and whether the European Union can continue to contribute to the development of the region.

Today it is perfectly acceptable to return to the question of what is Central Asia to the EU? Will we be included in any new neighborhood policy, or will we remain a "makeweight" in the neighborhood of the European Union? Will Europe be interested in the dynamics of the relationship with Kazakhstan as it continues to "move" the CA region to the periphery of the Eastern neighborhood? These questions were asked by the Commissioner of the EU for Central Asia Patricia Flor at the Budapest meeting "EU – Kazakhstan" on January 28, 2014 but a definite answer has not been received.

A question, once asked by one of the skeptics in 2007, remains open: "Will the EU be a success in Central Asia?" Among the argu-

ments about Strategy there has been said the following: "The new concept of the European Union is more symbolic of a general nature, the instruments of implementation are not specified therein… the previous policy of the Euro

pean Union in Central Asia has failed, this is recognized by the Europeans themselves. The EU has invested almost a billion Euro and has not received any traction..." For evidence to the contrary it is necessary to have more data, more information and the implementation of the Strategy needs to be extremely transparent. Moreover, the dynamics and the nature of the processes in Central Asia for the duration of the Strategy demonstrate visible positive changes for the development of Central Asian countries.

Note that the initiators of the strategic document could not take into account the external factors that have influenced the implementation

of the Strategy – the world financial and economic crisis. To some extent it has reflected the

state of development of the Central Asian republics as well as the European Union.

We are talking about changes that are actually not consistent with the original strategic plans of the EU in the region and impede to some extent their practical implementation. This is related to the subsection issues of the Strategy – "Human Rights, rule of law, amenable governance and democratization".

The Strategy, not having answered the Afghan challenge, did not consider the possible changes in the Afghan policy of the EU, namely that only in the last two years has there been an active search for a solution of the formula "EU – Central Asia – Afghanistan - after 2014". Moreover, Central Asia and the EU share the Afghan problem.

Thus, the European Union is involved in politics of regional security in Central Asia directly.

Summing up the preliminary results of the EU Strategy for Central Asia for 2007-2013 both problems and criticism, a positive potential and the future for further action on the basis of the strategic documents have been noted.

Exaggerated expectations are obvious regarding the implementation and outcomes of

the Strategy which creates a contradictory field

conducive to mutual criticism. In this regard, the EU should consider the following points in a more thought-out way when promoting its policy in Central Asia:

– The EU, in its activity in Central Asia, lags behind other actors with direct interests in the region. Hence, the "real European policy" is often inferior to the more flexible "real policies"

of China (especially in promoting business), or to the assertive policy of the United States;

– A radically new, conceptually founded EU strategy in Central Asia is urgently required that takes into account both the realities and needs of the region and the needs of the Eurasian space in which Central Asia where the key role is played by Russia and China;

– Europe still does not know enough about Central Asia; it does not account for the total uniqueness of the region and characteristics of each of its countries. It is most ironic that the Strategy itself is focused on the promotion of the interests of the EU in Central Asia;

– Due to the slow decision making by the EU on various projects for Central Asia there

is a delayed reaction to the current problems of the Asian countries, hence it has an "invisible presence" in the region;

– The diversity of the political and economic interests of the 28 member States of the EU in the organization of the same Strategy;

– The lack of dialogue in the five-sided

format of the leaders of the Central Asian republics that have not yet "grown into" the EU experience on regional cohesion and integration;

– The mismatch between the realities of modern legal and contractual framework of relations of EU with Central Asian republics requires renewal. A new Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation (PCA) has still not been adopted despite the fact that the previous one expired a long time ago;

– The EU and Central Asia have yet to elaborate on realistic tasks to ensure energy security within the framework of mutual cooperation and take into account their capacities and capabilities. The proposal to focus on a mutu-

ally beneficial sharing scheme "Central Asian

resources in exchange for European technology" has not been developed;

– European educational initiatives could be set wider than the development programs. Education should have a perspective for the development of the Central Asian republics and should be objectively aimed to reduce poverty.

Therefore, the diversification of the populations

of these countries seeking education is necessary;

– The EU has lacked clarity in investment and in investment cooperation with other multilateral organizations in facilitating the development of the CA countries;

– Overall, the European Union policy on Central Asia is primarily a policy of balancing between economic cooperation and democratic reforms. Hence, the implementation of the Strategy has lacked consistency, as well as the interconnectedness of different problems and projects aimed at their solution.

The convergence of the EU and Central Asia is predefined by the necessity of interregional

cooperation in the areas of economy, politics and security. In the background of the development of regionally significant relations between

the EU and Central Asia pragmatic interests dominate.

With all of the above there should be an acknowledgement of the progress made in the implementation of EU policy in Central Asia from 2007-2013 which has successfully promoted the multilateral contacts of Europe in Central Asia and Kazakhstan, and vice versa, of Kazakhstan in Europe. The time has come "to build bridges" and to maintain cooperation. The harmonization of the European Union and Central Asia deserves attention especially in the further development of the strategic partnership [3, p. 3-10].

In October 2014, a meeting of the cooperation Committee "Republic of Kazakhstan – European Union" was held in Brussels at which it was noted that Kazakhstan was in favor of updating the EU strategy for Central Asia.

The issue of updating the EU strategy for Central Asia and assessing the implementation of the previous strategy 2007-2013 were separate items on the agenda.

Kazakhstan considers the strategy as a means of creating additional conditions for sustainable development of the region and supports Latvia as the future Chairman of the EU Council in 2015.

During the meeting the sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues from the bilateral agenda including the development of trade between Kazakhstan and the EU, attraction of investment and improvement of the investment climate. In particular, for Kazakhstan, the EU is the largest trading partner and both sides are interested in reaching the full potential of this partnership in the framework of the new agreement on the extended partnership and cooperation, the signing of which is planned for 2015.

The delegations also discussed political cooperation including internal reforms, the protection of human rights, the rule of law and amenable governance. During the meeting the sides reviewed and exchanged views on cooperation in the field of energy, transport and en

vironmental protection.

The 15th meeting of the cooperation committee "Republic of Kazakhstan – European Union" is planned to be in autumn of 2015 in Astana.

Under these measures the parties have discussed in a constructive spirit the issues of cooperation in the field of human rights, and cooperation on aspects such as the reform of the ju

dicial system, border management, combating drug trafficking, terrorism and illegal migra

tion. Separate attention during the meeting was paid to the issues of simplifying the visa regime for citizens visiting the European Union [4].

To achieve different goals in the area of rule of law and rights, education, rural development, etc. the European Union has allocated one billion Euros to the Central Asian republics between 2014 and 2020 in accordance with the new European Union Strategy for Central Asia for 2014-2020.

Funds will be allocated on a bilateral basis to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and

Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan may also receive assistance through regional cooperation which will also be part of the declared funds.

The previous seven-year period of cooperation between the EU and Central Asia, from 2006 to 2013, amounted to 750 million Euros. From 1991 to 2004, EU financial assistance

to the countries of the Central Asian region amounted to 1.132 billion Euros. The funds were aimed at ensuring food security in the form of humanitarian aid, alleviation of poverty, education support and creating civil society.

It is important to give specific examples of

this assistance and identify that the European Union provides budget support in the education sector supporting sustainable development Strategies, social sector and social protection within the framework of the sustainable development strategy of the government of Kyrgyzstan, supporting the reform of the rule of law. In this area there is a current project amounting

to 30 million Euros and future projects will also

be implemented.

The new strategy strengthens relations in all areas of cooperation including the strengthening of political dialogue between the foreign Ministers of EU and Central Asia, it includes the reinforcement of dialogue on human rights, cooperation in the field of education, rule of

law, energy, transport, environment and water, trade, common threats and challenges including border management and combating drug trafficking.

The strategy of cooperation between the EU and Central Asia calls for an enhanced political dialogue with all five countries of Central

Asia and for regular meetings between the ministers of Foreign Affairs. Annual meetings of the Heads of Missions of EU countries in the region is also needed.

A new partnership between the EU and Central Asia for the twenty-first century will bring

tangible results. The countries of Central Asia have an increased interest in strengthening their cooperation with the EU at all levels and in virtually all areas.

In recent years political dialogue and practical cooperation between the EU and Central Asia in all of the priority areas identified in the

Strategy has significantly strengthened. Consid

ering the high expectations on the part of Central Asia, the growing importance of the priority areas of the Strategy, such as diversification of

energy resources, combating drug trafficking,

and the impact of climate change on the environment as well as the implementation of the Strategy, it is necessary to maintain the same pace of implementation.

It is obvious that the new European Union Strategy for Central Asia for 2014-2020 will strengthen cooperation in the fields of politics,

economy and humanitarianism [5].

Kazakhstan, like other countries interested in a stable and predictable world, is ready to contribute to the noble cause of strengthening international security by using all available methods of international communication – the UN, OSCE, CIS, SCO etc.

However, it is impossible to solve many problems of regional and global security without the strategic partnership of military organizations (including NATO, EU, OSCE, CSTO, SCO, CICA). Only through dialogue and partnership can there be effective solutions to international terrorism, religious extremism, drug trafficking, illegal migration, human trafficking

and so on [6, c.11-16]

Cooperation between the OSCE and Central Asia is important in the process of forming regional security architecture in the new geopolitical conditions.

At the same time one should not overestimate the role of the OSCE. The impact of the organization and its role may increase with the consensus of the participants in the strategic perspective but currently the OSCE remains a place for debate between different approaches.

The OSCE as a regional structure will continue to promote European values such as democracy, human rights, market economy, etc. and this policy will remain paramount.

The similarity to the Western approach is that the key to resolving economic, environmental, military, political and wider international security issues is seen in the promotion of Western standards in politics, economy and law. In this context the OSCE remains the in strument of post-Soviet countries in the field of Western values.

To address the pressing issues of security, trade and economic cooperation there are relatively effective European and Transatlantic instruments. Of course, for Western politicians the role of the EU and NATO is disproportionately more important than other functional structures. Their activity is known by the majority of the

residents in these countries, and these organizations have a larger functional load in the key issues of socio–economic life and international security.

For these reasons Western politicians will look for the involvement of CA countries in the promotion and implementation of their own standards and values to the "East of Vienna" and other neighboring regions. It is logical that Western countries initiate the creation of value mechanisms in the border areas of the OSCE. For example, the creation of a Mediterranean and Asian contact group of the OSCE for cooperation.

During its presidency, Kazakhstan raised the issue of a more uniform distribution of the "three baskets" of the OSCE. As you know, all three dimensions (military–political, economic–ecological and humanitarian) of the organization are equal. Besides this, Kazakhstan initiated a discussion about the Eurasian dimension of security where it was to talk about the complex problems connected with the situation in Afghanistan as well as topical issues of regional stability and security in Central Asia including the situation in Kyrgyzstan.

A joint operation of various transport arteries

connecting Eurasia is a factor for regional security. Opening transport communications, improvement of cross border transport infrastructure are two examples of the great potential for interaction. The geo-economic activity of Kazakhstan area in particular is in the implementation of the transcontinental transport corridors of Western Europe, and Western China, directed towards a significant contribution to the stability and sus

tainability of our region.

The issue of international migration is extremely topical which is increasingly affecting different countries. Large-scale migration flows

are coming from Asia to Europe and North America. Therefore, in order not to adequately respond to modern challenges in the global economy, politics and other areas it is necessary to strengthen the common security space [7, p. 128


In summary, we believe that the OSCE and Central Asia intend to cooperate in various fields.

However, the OSCE will advance its values using a variety of instruments and mechanisms for the practical application of its ideas. Our Republic has an active policy and has made tremendous efforts towards topical issues of interaction.

The European Union and Central Asia in the medium-term will:

Intensify the technological cooperation between each other, develop relations within the multilateral framework agreement on energy transit under the Energy Charter Treaty and continue the dialogue between the EU and Central Asia on environmental issues launched in spring 2006.

In conclusion, we can mark that Central Asia in the last decade has become an important economic and political region. The interests of many major global and regional actors intersect

herein. The cooperation was developed mainly on a bilateral basis. Individual Agreements on partnership and cooperation have been signed by the EU with all of the countries in the region. However, the European Union was able to develop a pan-European strategy towards the region only in 2007.

In this context the EU policy towards Central Asia is focused on further penetration into the region. However, despite this and the obvious fact that the countries of Central Asia show great interest in the development of comprehensive and multifaceted ties with the European Union, the results of the European policies in the region to date have been relatively modest and the political positions of the European Union in all Central Asian countries are very fragile.



  1. T. S. Suleimenov. Kazakhstan and globalization //Materials of II Republican Scientific–Practical Conference "Fateful decisions of First President of Kazakhstan N.A.Nazarbayev on the Formation of New Kazakhstan Dedicated to the Practical Realization of the Message of the President to Ppeople of Kazakhstan "Nurly Zhol – Path to Future". 27.11.2014
  2. Baizakova K. Factor of Economic Destabilization of the EU and the Fate of the Program "Way to Europe". Foreign Policy Perspectives and New Concepts of International Srategy of Kazakhstan // Materials of the round table. – Almaty:Zhibek zholy, 2012.- p.132
  3. Gubaidullina M. Sh. Some Results of the Implementation of the EU Regional Strategy for Central Asia (2007-2013) //Vestnik KazNU. Series of International Relations and International Law, 2014, No. 1 (65).
  4. Kazakhstan Proposes to Update EU Strategy for Central Asia. Available at: http://www.rosbalt.ru/exussr/2014/11/14/1337808.html.
  5. The European Union Allocates to the Countries of Central Asia 1 Billion Euros... Available at: http://www.ca-portal.ru/article:14163.
  6. Shaikhutdinov M. Regional and Global Ssecurity in XXI Century: Conceptual Approaches and Reality.// Kazakhstan in Global and Regional Processes 2008. No. 3 (17).
  7. Kushkumbaev S. K., Kushkumbaeva A. J. The OSCE's Role and Security Issues of Central Asia //Vestnik KazNU. The Series of Philosophy. A Series of Cultural Sstudies. Series of Political Science. 2014. № 3 (48).

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