Like the rest of the world, Central Asian states and societies are being stress-tested by the COVID-19 pandemic. Can they withstand the storm?
After taking power in 2016, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev quickly recognized that growing socioeconomic discontent could destabilize his regime, so he launched a preventative program of political and economic reforms.
Almost 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, Central Asian citizens are growing tired of stagnating economies, rampant corruption, and their governments’ empty promises. In 2019, they made it clear they want improved services, more transparency in decision-making, and better opportunities.
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.
Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov has held that position since the country gained independence in 1991. A great deal of uncertainty remains about who his successor might be.
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.
Uzbekistan’s political system, security apparatus, and economy will soon be tested. Whether it succeeds or stumbles will have implications for the entire Eurasian region.