Balance, multi-vector policies key to Central Asian prosperity, says expert

August 26th, 2008 - 10:29 am ICT by ANI  

By Ashok Dixit
Almaty, Aug.26 (ANI): The five republics of Central Asia and Russia need to consider adopting a united approach to ward off external threats, particularly from the West, said a Kazakh professor of history.
Speaking to ANI on the sidelines of a Central Asian and Caucasian security cooperation moot, Professor Marat E. Shaikhutdinov, Director of the Institute of World Economy and Politics (IWEP), said that recent conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia had left the leaderships and people of Central Asia quite concerned about Central Asian and Euro- Asian security.
The conflict had brought out the fact that larger countries were determining regional dynamics and decision processes, causing disquiet among their smaller neighbors, convincing them to look at both Russia and the West differently.
Emphasizing that 21st century geopolitics made it difficult to predict regional developments, Shaikhutdinov said it would be foolhardy to limit engagement to the bilateral level, even though certain processes were irreversible. Changes, he said, were also taking place within regional cooperative institutions such as the Shanghai Cooperation (SCO).
“There is a need to address regional and national relationships and make them more transparent. Emerging presentations and recommendations should then be forwarded to the appropriate decision and policy makers,” he said.
In the wake of the conflict with Georgia, Shaikhutdinov said Central Asia is now looking at Russia with “new eyes”, but added that there “is no great change in the political approach to Russia”.
”Observation is the key to understand Russian politics and decision-making. Central Asia anticipates Russian foreign policy facing problems, though we understand that Russia is the greatest partner of Kazakhstan, and similarly, Russia depends on Kazakhstan,” he added.
The objective now is to discover mechanisms to prevent eruptions like South Ossetia in the future, he said.
From an economic perspective, he said, balance and multi-vector policies hold the key. Commenting on “oil politics”, Shaikhutdinov said focus should not be limited to this area, adding that there were sectors like gas, uranium and mineral resources, where regional partners could stay engaged. Geopolitics was another area of engagement at both the global and regional level, where all would meet and would need each other.
He acknowledged that the situation in the region has become more complicated, and added that there were many contradictions that needed to be addressed, as Central Asia would strategically be at center of this geopolitics.
”It is really difficult to avoid all these problems. Facts are facts and need to be dealt with. There are big playersfrom Russia, Europe and the United States, and therefore, they also have to be accepted, as they bring big business and with it employment generation,” he said.
Asked on whether Central Asia could consider aligning with countries like Vietnam, India, Brazil, Egypt and South Africa for a more just world order, Shaikhutdinov said Kazakhstan is still in a transitional phase. “We are still new and we have the results,” he concluded. (ANI)

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