Central Asia: Towards Development in an Era of Turbulence

The situation in Central Asia is often viewed through the prism of various kinds of challenges resulting from both the general state of affairs in the world, conflicts at the regional level, and the rapidly changing situation in individual countries.

The uncertainty associated with the weakening of international institutions and the arms control system, the increased level of conflicts in the Middle East, the continuing tension in Afghanistan, as well as the radicalisation and spread of violent ideologies by terrorist Islamist organisations cannot but have a direct impact on Central Asia.

In parallel, there are problems associated with the development of nation-states. There is a new generation of citizens who are interested in greater justice, the availability of vertical mobility in society, transparency, as well as the opportunity to get a good education or become professionally qualified in order to be in demand on the modern labour market.

Programme of the 10th Asian Conference of the Valdai Discussion Club
Programme of the 10th Asian Conference of the Valdai Discussion Club “Central Asia and Eurasia: Multilateral Cooperation Facing Challenges of Global Disorder”

Club events

While traditional challenges require well-known measures used to respond, such as the strengthening of the military capabilities of each state, as well as collective security institutions, and bilateral strategic relations between states, the challenges of modern development require more nuancing and the elaboration of adequate answers. Ensuring development, competitiveness, and rapid adaptation to breakthrough technologies are becoming the most important elements of state security in a world, where weak and underdeveloped economies, political systems, and societies can be retarded forever. It seems that such challenges in Central Asia are becoming taken more and more seriously.

In the current situation, global players retain their influence in the region and the direction of its development will depend on them. However, the success of their policies is directly related to the needs of the region itself. In addition to military-technical cooperation, the development of trade and economic relations, investments, and soft power (the opening of higher educational institutions, cultural exchanges, etc.) are in great demand in Central Asia.

With the formation and development of Central Asian national states, the experience of independent existence was translated into political maturity, into readiness for the necessary reforms, and at the same time to a more persistent advancement of their own interests. In particular, Uzbekistan can serve as an example in this regard. The change of leadership of the republic opened up opportunities for long-awaited and overdue reforms. They already affect all main aspects of political and socio-economic life.

Challenges for Uzbekistan’s New President: Border Conflicts and the Islamist Underground
Ivan Safranchuk
A new political era has begun in Uzbekistan. Despite predictions in some media outlets, the country entered it without popular unrest or provocations, literally in mournful silence. The situation in the republic remains stable, at least for now. Ivan Safranchuk, associate professor of the Department of Global Political Processes of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy told valdaiclub.com what awaits Uzbekistan in the near future.
Expert Opinions

The medium position of Uzbekistan, which borders all the countries of Central Asia, only geographically emphasises its special role in the region = Not to mention the economic and demographic potential, the availability of resources and human capital, and industrial capacities. In foreign policy, Uzbekistan gave an example of how, with the help of diplomacy, it is possible to solve acute and long-standing problems of inter-regional interaction, which have created a high level of distrust. First of all, we are talking about the resolution of border problems with neighbours.

Uzbekistan is increasingly taking advantage of its opportunities to promote political agreements beyond Central Asia. These include its diplomatic offensive in Afghanistan, aimed at concluding political agreements between the actors of the on-going Afghan drama.

In the outside world, Uzbekistan adheres to a policy of diversification, maintaining and developing mutually beneficial ties with all international players (Russia, the USA, Europe, China, India, Middle Eastern and Asian-Pacific partners). The expansion and deepening of its ties with Russia is particularly noteworthy. The volume of the bilateral agreements portfolio now exceeds $27 billion. There are more than 1,000 Russian enterprises in Uzbekistan. Notable achievements can be found in the fields of scientific and educational cooperation. We should emphasize the high level of confidence in existing relations and mutual respect for interests that are not identical, although generally quite close.

The presence of stable secular governments in the region, including in Uzbekistan, restrains manifestations of religious extremism and radicalism.

A special model of state building and interstate interaction may arise in the future in the centre of Eurasia combining political and socio-economic modernisation with the careful preservation of cultural traditions.
New Technologies as a Challenge to Stability in Greater Eurasia
Rustam Makhmudov
The reality of scientific and technological progress will certainly make its own adjustments, making FIR one of the key components in the process of forecasting processes in Greater Eurasia.
Expert Opinions
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.