Minister Sergey Lavrov
Editor's Column
Golden Collection
Experts
MFA Russia News
All Tags
Archive material
November 2018 (15)
October 2018 (28)
September 2018 (8)
August 2018 (11)
July 2018 (4)
June 2018 (3)
rss
facebook
twitter
youtube

The June summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) highlighted China's swelling economic presence in Central Asia. Chinese premier Hu Jintao unveiled an ambitious agenda for the region, with $10b in loans to be infused into the corresponding projects. At the moment, the Chinese investments in Central Asian republics estimatedly total $20b, and Beijing evidently aims at the role of the main economic partner of the entire Central Asia, especially in the spheres of energy and transit.

China is open about being keenly interested in Central Asian energy sector and transit projects. At the summit, Hu Jintao called the Central Asian partners to move on to the formation of an integrated network of railroad and expressway transit, telecommunications, and energy supply and pledged China's assistance in the training of 1,500 specialists from SCO countries over the next three years, along with financial support for 30,000 students and professors plus perks like scholarships for 10,000 visitors from the Confucius Institutes scattered across the SCO countries over the next five. The above list shows that the Chinese soft power is meant to reinforce Beijing's already impressive economic influence in Central Asia.

On May 23, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India penned a deal to construct the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline which is supposed to pump gas from Turkmenistan to South Asia. It appears at the moment that the partners in the project whose feasibility provoked debates of varying intensity since the early 1990ies finally managed to achieve some clarity concerning such key issues as the outlet point of the route and the future buyers for the gas to be supplied.

The planned throughput of the 1,700-km Trans-Afghanistan pipeline is currently set to 33 bcm annually, the main target markets being India and Pakistan which are to absorb 14 bcm a year each. The remaining 5 bcm should go to Afghanistan. The route is to pass through Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan, Quetta and Multan in Pakistan, and to reach Fazilka in India. The Indian cost estimate for the construction is $12b and the resources will be drawn from Galkynysh gas field in Turkmenistan which is currently being sold by Ashgabat as the world's largest.

In the past few months Kazakhstan, once the quietest country in Central Asia, has turned into a hotbed of extremism. On December 16th when Kazakhstan marked its Independence Day, violent clashes took place in the western town of Zhanaozen in Mangistau district.

This September was marked with a recurrence of pipeline disputes between Russia and the EU. On September 16, Russian premier V. Putin blessed in Sochi an agreement on the construction of the marine section of South Stream, the pipeline intended to rid Russia of the dependence on Ukraine for gas transit to Europe.

Russian general staff chief Gen. N. Makarov warned at a media briefing in Moscow on September 12 that revolutions patterned on the Libyan one can recur in Central Asia.

A wave of anti-government protests in the Arab world has made us think about whether such events are possible in other parts of the planet. Then Central Asia comes to mind immediately as a region which has much in common with the Arab civilization. The leaders of Central Asian regions do not seem to rule out the possibility of social unrest among their people. Any kind of information about the ongoing crisis in the Arab world receives poor coverage in the local media and is always censored.

The present list of top 10 developments in Central Asia in 2010 was compiled on the basis of the author's assessment of their impact on the region's political and socioeconomic landscape. In any case, the developments surveyed below will likely have enduring repercussions for Central Asia.

Hizb ut-Tahrir and other similar international radical Islamic political organizations have intensified their activities in Central Asia. In Tajikistan several dozens of members of Hizb ut-Tahrir have been arrested. During such arrests police usually finds batches of books, brochures, CDs with the propaganda of radical Islam.

The water dispute between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan stemming from the Rogun hydroelectric plant project and the related problem of water volumes availability intensified this fall. One of the causes behind the escalation is that Tajikistan is about to face the traditional seasonal electricity rationing, another – that Russia's involvement in Tajikistan's hydroelectric projects meant to lift the republic out of chronic energy poverty is going to be under the spotlight during prime minister V. Putin's November 25 visit to Dushanbe.

Finally, the parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan to which the republic exhausted by the permanent crisis and craving for at least some sort of stability was inching so nervously are over. Contrary to alarmist forecasts, they neither were accompanied by another round of public unrest nor provoked clashes like those Kyrgyzstan's south was shattered by last July.