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Prospects for cooperation between Russia and Central Asia – a new defense order.strategy

May 17-18, 2nd Central Asian Conference “Russia-Central Asia: Cooperation and Development in Unstable Situations” It was held at Valdai Club. The event was attended by approximately 40 experts from 10 countries: Russia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

In a welcome speech, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko provided some data on Russia’s cooperation with Central Asian countries. In 2021, trade sales between Russia and the countries of the region reached $ 27 billion, up 30% from 2020. Cumulative investment in Central Asian countries is $ 30.5 billion. Migration is an important aspect of relationships. More than 4 million citizens from countries in the region are permanently staying in Russia, of which 160,000 are studying at Russian universities, including national scholarships.

Rudenko said Central Asia is a region recognized as a stable island during times of turbulence.

The first day of the conference devoted itself to geopolitical issues and the co-development of the countries of the region and their adjoining countries.

Wang Wen, executive Dean of the Chunyang Institute for Monetary and Social Sciences at Renmin University of China, said world society has not faced so many temporary and large-scale challenges since 1945. As a result, armed conflict in Europe, climate change, food crises, inflation, and diminished confidence in the global financial system as a result of the confiscation of Russian assets by Western countries.

Danyar Kurbanov, director of the Center for International Relations and Information Analysis, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, talked about the relationship between Russia and Uzbekistan. He emphasized the importance of partnerships between Russia and Central Asian countries in ensuring regional security, socio-economic stability, and the implementation of national modernization strategies.

The speaker nominated the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a platform for the development of practical cooperation.

The conference discussed threats to the region, including terrorism, drug trafficking, radical ideology, and the immigration crisis. Experts consider the situation in Afghanistan to be a major issue in the region and emphasize the need to prevent the country from turning into a “rogue nation.” Another challenge in Central Asia is the aging of society and its extreme traditions. Experts agreed that this is behind an attempt to maintain the national identity of the people of the region.

The issues of economic cooperation and world trade were not ignored either. The speaker discussed the need to change the direction of the Russian economy and the opportunities that will be opened if Central Asian countries participate in the change of direction of Russia’s logistics flow. Experts also talked about non-standard solutions for international trade. For example, there was a proposal to allow the cabotage transportation and registration of vehicles of Russian and Belarusian carriers in Kazakhstan.

To avoid sanctions on consumer goods, it was also proposed to involve Kazakhstan and open a shopping center with sanctioned products in the border area with Russia.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated to the relationship between Russia, China and Central Asian countries in a new situation. Experts emphasized that the current geopolitical situation opens the window for opportunities for cooperation in Eurasian space.

Participants in the conference discussed China’s role in the region. Experts appreciated the experience of the Republic of Central Asia in participating in China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.

In Kazakhstan, this project has helped drive the development of the logistics industry and the formation of a broad pool of field experts, expanding Kazakhstan’s role as a transit country.

Kyrgyzstan expert Nursulu Akhmetova said China’s investment in the republic exceeds that of Russia. She expressed her hope for the resumption of modular projects within the “Belt and Road” framework against the backdrop of ongoing revisions to logistics cooperation, with the Russian Federation taking into account Chinese factors in Central Asia. Recommended to coordinate policies. Akhmetova said that while China is deepening its cooperation with countries in the region, including the social sphere, Russia still has more in common with the Central Asian Republic than China.

Part of the debate has been devoted to changing China’s perceptions of the region since the beginning of the pandemic and the transition to Beijing’s domestic policy. Expert opinions were divided. Some have argued that there is reason to believe that China will be closed, but it is temporary. Others have suggested that in modern circumstances it is impossible to isolate China because of its status as a “world power.” China has maintained its image in the region despite its proximity to visits and inaccessibility.

For the Republic of Central Asia, the country is economically attractive, and like other developing countries, the Republic is still waiting for China’s investment.

The conference also discussed the complexities of the information sector, how to combat disinformation, propaganda and alien exclusion aimed at destabilizing and dividing the population of the countries in the region. Rahim Oshakbaev, director of the TALAP Applied Research Center, said neither Russia nor Central Asian countries have the proper skills to counter and manage information tools, and there is a large gap in information conflicts. ..

The second day of the meeting ended with a discussion on the economic aspects of the relationship and an exchange of views on the further economic development of Russia and the countries of the region. Marcel Salikhov, director of the HSE Center for Economic Experts, said that economic growth in developing countries, including the Russian Federation and the Republic of Central Asia, makes this process very complicated today.

Experts also said that classical import substitution under modern conditions is not impossible or beneficial, as market tightness leads to lagging behind those with access to international markets.

Participants at the conference cited the limitations of Russia’s modern economy as follows:

  1. Narrowing of global system;
  2. Changes in financial architecture, loss of accessibility, and loss of financial instruments.
  3. Lack of macro regulators;
  4. Problems with new international chains, integration into them, and turning to the eastern market.
  5. Partner prioritization.

In this situation, the Russian economy needs to set clear challenges. Experts are convinced that Russia needs to develop a clear goal-setting strategy to deal with the crisis situation.

The speaker estimated the depth of economic relations between Russia and Central Asia, but emphasized that countries need to take a more realistic approach to further develop cooperation and select models that will work in the future. It has been proposed to use the EurAsEC platform to discuss these issues.

Experts have also named the trends and challenges that the post-Soviet space may face during the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

  1. The next phase of the redistribution of world wealth and influence is taking place. Under these circumstances, the Russian Federation and Central Asian countries should pay more attention to the details of bilateral relations in order to avoid the emergence of “black birds”.
  2. There are changes in the structure of the global academic core in the technical field. Western countries – 39.7% of experts, Asia Pacific countries – 38.5%, experts, Russia, Post-Soviet Republic – 10% of experts. It is necessary to keep increasing the possibility.
  3. The emergence of new types of important raw materials, especially lithium and copper, as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is emphasized that Afghanistan has a large possession of these resources and should be gradually integrated into the global economy.
  4. The problem of human substitution through new technologies and robotization.
  5. A crisis of values ​​caused by significant technological changes, the transformation of the moral compass.

Source Valdai Discussion Club

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