TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Februar 2010

Sektion 1.5. Europe and Central Asia – More than Security and Energy? Defining an Emerging Partnership
Sektionsleiter | Section Chairs: Peter Felch (ARTilek, Vienna, Austria) | Gunther Neumann (Vienna, Austria)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Central Asian and EU: challenges and prospects of cooperation

Mirzokhid Rakhimov (Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan) [BIO]



Disintegration of Soviet Union had resulted in creation of the condition for Central Asia and EU have bilateral and multilateral partnership. Since 1991 EU`s the main instrument in conducting strategy in CIS has been, the “Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation” which also signed with all the republics of the former Soviet Union. The European Union initialed the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in May 1996 and with Uzbekistan in June 1996. In July 1999 the agreement became fully operational after ratification by all the 15 EU member states and European Parliament. These agreements do not extend any prospect for admis­sion to the EU and simply serve to effect, on a bilateral, European interest in Central Asia.

The European Commission has developed a representation network in the Central Asia countries, constituted of EC Delegations, including Almaty, Bishkek, Dushanbe (the last two having a non-resident Head of Delegation). In addition, like in Caucasian region in Baku, the Commission has established ”Europe Houses” in Tashkent, which constitute a central point of reference in the country for information about Tacis and other programmes.

Another important EU policy instrument in the region, concerns the realizations of the programme of technical assistance (TASIS), which is aimed at supporting the implementation of economic reforms and economic and political reforms links between partner countries. TACIS is main assis­tance instrument with the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia and includes both national programmes and regional programmes in areas such as nuclear safety, cross-border cooperation and regional cooperation.(1) In October 2002 EU Commission adopted The Strategy Paper for Central Asia (SP) and provides the strategic framework within which EC assistance is provided for the period 2002-2006. It follows the guidelines set out in the Framework for Country Strategy Papers, and takes its basis from the Regulation for the provision of assistance to the partner countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The SP for Central Asia, which includes the Tacis Indicative Programme for Central Asia for the years 2002-2004 reviews EU/EC cooperation with the five countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) to date and presents a new strategy for providing technical assistance to the region.

EU and Central Asia relations passed several stapes. In the beginning and middle 1990th, the EU policies have made absolutely a fallacy of the tendencies development in the region. They ignored necessary of passage by these republics of a phase of creation of “nation-state” that demanded consolidation economic and political interests of the newborn elites. At the time, the strategy of EU was aimed at encouragement inner regional integration in the Central Asia though process disintegration unequivocally developed. The EU hopes for deve­lop­ment of democratic and market institutes, while the new independent states needed to create all over again specific regimes to keep internal stability and external security(2).

In second half 1999th in Europe it is especial in Germany, about to understand that in the geopoliti­cal context the EU considerable lags behind other external players on Caspian Sea and in Central Asia. The most influence member of EU – Germany was occurred with the European problems, first of all expansion of the European Union and formation by common foreign and security policy.

The area a policy of EU forces the European politicians to pay attention on Central Asian the region laying in sphere of the European interests. Thus, in 2000 the tendency to growth of concern of Eu­rope by the various threads which are starting with Central Asia- drug trafficking, by illegal migration, growth of social intensity, stopping democratic processes, growth in some republics of threads of a economic collapse and a last, an exit on a stage radical and military Islam supported by interested forces from the outside and by internal instability and so­cial despair.

Although the beginning of the 21st century finds a heightened interest of Europe in Central Asia, EU does not yet have a unified strategy toward the region. The economic and political interests of the large European states in Central Asia differ and diverge. This is both to the internal peculiarities of European politics and to the general geopolitical states situation, including the relations of the EU with the US and Russia. At the time, the events of 2000 and 2001 show that the domi­nant theme in the relations between Central Asia and Europe (and more generally, the West) has become the problem of regional security as well as the struggle against terrorism and the drug trade. The situation surrounding Central Asia is becomes a problem of ensuring security not only in the region itself, but throughout the CIS, Europe, and the West.

At the same time in 2001 main Central Asian nations - Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan adopted a more active European policy and it was clear apparent during Karimov and Nazarbaev visits in Germany, where was signed several agreements for cooperation with Germany. 2001 became critical also in a policy of Germany concerning the Central Asia and in mutual rela­tions bet­ween the states of the region and Germany. The meeting of the German govern­ment under presidency chancellor G. Schroeder , which was held in November of 2001, has called all interested departments “to turn face to Central Asia”. It means, that the Afghani  policy of Germany  and EU should be considered in the context of the European concern by the security of the CA region which is included into the sphere of strategic and geopolitical inte­rests of the EU.

After September 11 a serious search of alternative sources of energy recourses have been initiated. 2001 crisis brought the issue of stopping of Europe`s dependence on Arab oil to European agenda and Caspian oil seemed to bring good prospects for Europe in these respects. This factor will deter­mine the development of relations between Central Asia nations (especially Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) and European states and with the EU in general as with political and economic entity. In November 13, 2004 at the 1st EU, Caspia and Black Sea countries Energy Ministerial Conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, thought “Baku Initiative” enhanced energy and transport cooperation between the EU, Black Sea and Caspian region and in November 30, 2006 at the 2sd Energy Ministerial meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan was agreed on a new Energy Road Map and its implementation will pave the way for a comprehensive legal and regulatory governing an integrated EU-Black Sea-Cas­pian Sea common energy market based on the EU acquits. The Road map agreed by the European Commission and Governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Russian Federation (as an observer).

In October 2006 EU Commissioner for External relations B. Ferrero-Waldner at his speech at Eura­sian National University (Kazakhstan) mention that energy cooperation is one of the priorities of EU rela­tions with Central Asia(3). Indeed in December 2006 during President N. Nazarbaev visit to Brussels it was signed Memorandum on strategic energy cooperation between EU and Kazakhstan.

In 2007 EU adopted new strategy toward Central Asia in 2007-2013 with empha­si­zing on incising political and economic partnership. 

At the results, EU is guided more not by geopolitical reasons of political involvement in the region, by pragmatic interest of mutually beneficiary economic cooperation with the states having good economic prospects and rich natural resources.

At the same time, there are many problems in Central Asia and EU relations.  There are critics from both sides.  From EU bad human rights record of Central Asian countries, slow tempo of economic reforms and others. From Central Asia absence clear strategy, ignoring of regional and local peculiarities, double standards approaches.

In October 2005 EU accepted controversial sanctions against Uzbekistan after Tashkent blocked an international enquiry into the Andijan Events of May 2005 and sanction was renewed in November 2006.(4) EU foreign ministers agreed to extend an arms embargo and a travel ban for a number of top officials. In a statement, the 25 EU foreign ministers said they were "profoundly concerned by the human rights situation" in the resource-rich Central Asian state. It was debates at the academic and political level on the sanction and its unproductively for both side - EU and Uzbekistan.

During 2006-2007 were several meetings of two sides on the issue.  In particular in November 2006 at the meetings of the European Union-Uzbekistan Cooperation Council it reaffirmed its desire to see EU-Uzbek relations deve­lop, The Cooperation Council discussed a number of issues of importance to both parties, including the events at Andijan, democratization, human rights, regional cooperation in Central Asia, justice and home affairs issues and economic development, and emphasized the need for continuous reinforced reform process in Uzbekistan.(5) Head of Uzbek delegation, Minister of Foreign Affairs Norov presented to the EU delegation 12st volume of investigation materials on Andijan and European experts could analyze these materials. And in December 2006 EU expert arrived to Uzbekistan to work with counterparts from Uzbekistan on Andijan   investigation.

Several EU countries, in particular Germany, have been pushing for an easing of sanctions and greater dialogue, backing the view that sanctions have done little to improve the human rights situation in Uzbekistan and simply pushed the country closer to Russia.

 Germany led the push to relax sanctions in line with its new "Ostpolitik" strategy of greater EU engagement in Central Asia, arguing that freezing talks has done nothing to advance human rights while pushing Uzbekistan - a strategically important country for EU gas supp­lies and NATO's Af­ghanistan campaign - closer to Russia.

In autumn 2007 EU sanction toward Uzbekistan was stopped and in January 2008 Special Representative of EU in Central Asia Pier Morel visited to Tashkent and met with Uzbek President.   Mr. Morel expressed that EU consider Uzbekistan as important partner and supports future strengthening and increasing partnership with the country. Without any doubt strong partnership between EU and Uzbekistan is very important for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in Central Asia.

At present the problem of reconstruction and peace in Afghanistan is critical aspects for interest EU and others international institutions, NATO, US, Russia, China and also for neighboring countries including Central Asian nations. It is important role of the European Union and especially Germany in struggle against the international terrorism and in stabilization of Afghanistan. The role of Central Asia nations first of all Uzbekistan at EU activity in the country is very important. From 2001 to present Germany is using Uzbek military base in Termez for its operation in Afghanistan. In October 2006 German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited to five Central Asian nations, the German government said in a statement. Steinmeier's visit was meant to explore the possibility of striking a unified European Union policy for the region, which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Steinmeier's talks with Central Asian leaders will focus on energy, the fight against Islamic extremism and the region's role as a transit point for drug smuggling from Afghanistan to Europe(6). At EU presidency programme 2007 Germany initia­ted new programme on increase political partnership with Central Asia, which means first of all with Uzbe­kistan. It was accepted new EU strategy toward Central Asia in 2007-2013 with emphasizing on incising political and economic partnership. Total budget of the new strategy is 314 mil. Euro, which is extremely low to whole region.

In sum up, Central Asia partnership with EU and other international organization is important for promotion the stability and security of the Central Asia nations and to assist in their pursuit of sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. At the same time stabilization and restore economy of Afghanistan is key objectives. Presently NATO is leading ISAF, but the situation in Afghanistan very complicated.

There are many problems among different actors on Afghanistan, including NATO, EU, OSCE and other international organizations, because they different approaches and understanding of the situation.

In my opinion in the cooperation between Central Asia nations with EU and other international and regional organizations following needed:

Firstly, Afghanistan is international and regional factor of security and stabilization is important for future of Central Asia. So, Afghan people and newborns are most interested in the process and NATO, EU and other international organizations need work first of all with them.

Secondly, EU, NATO, and OSCE need to have regularly consultation and joint projects in Central Asia and Afghanistan;

Third, international organization is best to work together with Central Asia republics, Pakistan, Iran and other neighboring countries and one of the important mechanize of the partnership could be Uzbekistan initiative “6+2” and possible changes to “6+3 and including NATO;

Fifths, it should be clear understanding that it could not possible sooner creation democratic Afghan country;

 Six, international organization and major powers have to channel considerable funds and external support to Afghanistan to help it restore its economy and try use also technological and reconstruc­tion potential of Central Asia republics;

Sevenths, EU, NATO, OSCE and need to have strong relations and maybe joint projects on Afghanistan with  Commonwealth Independent States, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Eurasian Economic Community, Collective Security Organizations;

Eights, EU and Central Asia nation is necessary continue partnership on the alternative transport corridors and pipelines and cooperation in the solving wind range problem, including ecological one.

For Central Asia nations is important strong partnership with international and regional organization in a new technology which are needed for economic reform and attracting foreign aid and direct investment. The EU, NATO, OSCE political, military and economic support for Central Asia repub­lics should continue because it will contribute to the maintenance and development of peace, stabili­ty, cooperation and freedom in the region. At the same time the international organization needs to develop a concrete long- range strategy in Central Asia.

Only in cooperation and with active participation of Central Asian nations could be solving the prob­lem in Afghanistan. Secure and economic stable Afghanistan is very important for future of Central Asia

Security challenges of the 21-century require a broader partnership and cooperation. Future regional cooperation in Central Asia, strong partnership with the other integrations process in the different part of the world would promote stability, economic reforms and democratization.


2 Laumulin, Murat. Central Asia and the West: The Geopolitical Impact on the Regional Security. Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies. Almaty 2004. PP.55.
4 Bulletin EU 10-2005 Relations with the countries of eastern Europe, the Caucasus and central Asia (5/10)
5 Bulletin EU 11-2006 Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and central Asia (4/6).
6 2006-10-31

1.5. Europe and Central Asia – More than Security and Energy? Defining an Emerging Partnership

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