The EU will need to increase its visibility in Central Asia if it wants to have influence in a region facing immense challenges from China and India, but also from Afghanistan and threats of terrorism.
Brighter prospects for Central Asian integration come amid political and economic liberalization in Uzbekistan, hardening authoritarianism elsewhere in the region, widespread economic distress, and China’s growing influence—the five major trends that marked Central Asia in 2018.
The five states of Central Asia — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — mark 27 years of independence in 2018.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become the organizing foreign policy concept of the Xi Jinping era.
China hopes to use three strengths to make the Belt and Road Initiative a success: its large foreign exchange reserves, dominance in certain infrastructure fields, and unique forms of state backed project finance.
Turkmenistan’s political model appears far more fragile than the record after twenty-five years of independence might lead one to believe.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization will likely become less functional and coherent as the group gets bigger. Form will start to drive function, and the group will begin to search for a purpose.
Major geopolitical shifts and internal dynamics are setting the stage for possible increased great-power competition in Central Asia between Russia and China at a time when the region is becoming less hospitable to the projection of U.S. power and to the promotion of democracy.
Twenty-five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all of the countries of Eurasia remain in the midst of difficult transitions and face unpredictable futures.
Beijing should approach its energy-centered partnership with Moscow in Central Asia with a degree of caution.