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Research Report

Astana on the Atlantic:: Transatlantic Strategy in Central Asia and the OSCE

Chuck Hagel
Damon Wilson
Ross Wilson
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2010
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 28
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)
    Frederick Kempe

    The Atlantic Council founded the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center in 2008 based on the premise that the success or failure of the states of the Caucasus and Central Asia would have a major impact on the future of Europe and the broader transatlantic space. To promote a vision of economic and political integration within Eurasia, the Center inaugurated the Black Sea Energy and Economic Forum in 2009. The Forum convenes government and business leaders to address the future of the region and its relationship with the transatlantic community, with a focus on energy security and economic growth.

    To complement the...

  2. (pp. 3-3)

    An arc of potential disorder and instability increasingly looms over Central Asia. This year’s political turmoil and ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan illustrated the difficulties and dangers before the region – and that American interests confront there. Much of Central Asia is not succeeding economically or politically. Parts of it face the prospect of indigenous extremist violence and/or could become new safe havens for transnational threats emanating from Afghanistan. U.S. strategies that for years aimed to support the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and success of the new Central Asian states have come to be dominated by the exigencies of the Afghan...

  3. (pp. 4-5)

    The conventional definition of Central Asia is that it comprises the five states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This area measures over four million square kilometers, about half the size of the lower 48 American states. But the region’s geography, political economy and culture encompass an area many times larger, including at least Afghanistan, Mongolia, northwest China and Iran. In economic terms, Central Asia is also bound up with South Asia. The whole area’s long-term future will be more secure, peaceful and prosperous as the core is successful and as cooperation more effectively spans its many borders.


  4. (pp. 6-7)

    Regional Development: A Dog’s Breakfast. The five new states of Central Asia have moved ahead in many ways. They have largely consolidated their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The doubt many had about their future in the early post-Soviet years has gone away. But progress has been uneven.

    According to World Bank figures, the region’s gross domestic product nearly quadrupled between 1990 and 2008. Kazakhstan’s economy alone quintupled in size during that time. But good macro figures grossly overstate the region’s achievements. Average life expectancy in the region is less than 67 years and falling. Literacy rates have dropped, while...

  5. (pp. 8-9)

    Implications of Kyrgyzstan. The June 2010 collapse of state authority in Kyrgyzstan’s south was an alarm bell for Presidents Nazarbayev and Karimov.

    They saw played out a nightmare of ethnic conflict that seemed to justify their authoritarian style of governance. Events seemed to confirm that dalliance with democracy had left the Kyrgyz state incapable of dealing with problems, nearly making the country a threat to the region itself. But the responses in Tashkent and Astana had two interesting aspects.

    Uzbekistan opened its tightly-sealed border to allow tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks to flee the depredations of fellow Kyrgyzstani citizens....

  6. (pp. 10-11)

    The United States was the first country to establish relations with and open embassies in all of the newly independent countries of Central Asia. Secretary of State James Baker’s visits to each capital in the weeks after the USSR’s fall were meant to be a lifeline to their leaders. Senior-level diplomacy continued throughout the 1990s, led by President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Secretaries of State Christopher and Albright, Deputy Secretary of State Talbott, ambassadors-at-large to the new independent states, and others.

    U.S. policy emphasized supporting the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of these new countries. Large FREEDOM Support Act-funded aid...

  7. (pp. 12-13)

    The United States and its allies should re-forge the transatlantic relationship with, and role in, Eurasia. The rapidly growing influence of the Asia-Pacific region in international affairs and the emergence of security threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area demand reform of the conceptual framework and institutions underpinning that role.

    A “Triple Crown” of summits in November and December 2010 offers the Obama administration a unique opportunity to promote a broader, more ambitious agenda that reintegrates Eurasia. For the first time since 1999, the United States will participate in three Euro-Atlantic security summits in the same year, when the President or...

  8. (pp. 14-16)

    The December OSCE summit offers the administration a chance to deliver on the President’s commitment to lead within multilateral organizations while working with key partners. Breakthrough agreements are not what Astana is about, but the United States should aim to use meetings there to:

    Reaffirm the Helsinki Final Act’s core principles and their importance today;

    Launch a new era of sustained U.S. diplomatic engagement in Central Asia;

    Position the OSCE as the enduring, relevant and comprehensive security organization in the region;

    Apply the reset policy to the OSCE so as to draw Moscow away from obstructionism there;

    Advance concrete initiatives...

  9. (pp. 17-20)

    Given the stakes for U.S. and transatlantic interests in Central Asia, the United States needs to rebalance, reposition and readjust.

    Dialogue: Washington needs to make senior-level engagement with Central Asia a priority. It should be frequent, comprehensive and coordinated among the civilian and military parts of the U.S. government, and the civilian component should be preeminent. In two decades of the region’s independence, no U.S. president has visited it; the time has come for one to do so. The senior U.S. participant at Astana and our representative to the OSCE should visit other Central Asian capitals as part of the...