Director of the Center of International Studies at the National Research University Timofei Bordachev: “Stability and Development of Central Asian States is the Key to Peace in Eurasia.”

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Central Asia is the heart of the world, where at the end of the 19th century began a struggle for power, which the British explorer and writer Arthur Conolly called the Great Game. Central Asia was the scene of a struggle for influence between the British and Russian Empires during that period. According to researchers, at the end of the 20th century and in the 21st century, a New Great Game began in the region, in which such countries as the USA, the EU, Iran and China participate at the game. At the same time, the policy of the Central Asian republics has an aim to maintain a multi-vector foreign policy strategy and save the balance between centres of power in order to protect their independence from major players.

In this context, the Ankara Center for Crisis Situations and Policy Research (ANKASAM) presents to your attention the views of Dr. Timofey Bordachev, Director of the Center for International Studies of the Russian National Research University.

1.There are various discussions about China’s interests and goals in the region, as you know that China has the second largest economy in the world. What are the advantages of joint actions with China from the point of view of the regional states?

The biggest benefit that the states of Central Asia receive from cooperation with China is the increase in socio-economic stability in their own countries, the employment of young people in production. This starts to bring money into the economy. In the countries of Central Asia, especially in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and to a lesser extent in Kazakhstan, the population increase due to the high demographic growth in the region.

China needs for a young workforce and its ability to accept more migrant workers from Central Asia are important factor here. For that reason, young people must ensure stability in the region, and should not think about choosing the path of religious fanaticism and should work. At the moment, Chinese investment is very important for the continuation and development of production by the countries of Central Asia. Moreover, Beijing offers organizational and economic opportunities. In this sense, China is equally interested in the stability of the region. In fact, the political approach of Russia and China is similar in this case. These two states do not have a desire to change the political structures of the states of the region or ensure the transformation of their political systems, but they directed their efforts towards strengthening their stability. This will also serve the interests of the region.

2. What do according to your opinion, impedes integration processes in Central Asia and contributes to conflicts between the neighboring states?

All these countries naturally act in accordance with their economic interests. Firstly, these states would like to ensure the long-term political stability in their region. Furthermore, they understand that they will have to take responsibility. Because without this responsibility, the economic projects that will be implemented by these states will not have tangible benefits.

In Central Asia, the issue of security comes as the priority. Economy comes after security. It is a known fact that if security is not achieved in Eurasia, that region will be vulnerable to destructive provocations of various forces, especially radical ones. Therefore, regional states have a pragmatic approach to this issue.

For example, Kazakhstan has a plan to enter to the world market and pursues its purely economic interests. In fact, this is a very good initiative. However, at the same time, it is necessary to ensure the long-term political stability and therefore, the security of a large region. Uzbekistan also takes a realistic approach and plans to develop a suitable political model for itself as a country that values ​​​​its sovereignty very much.

3. The rental economies dependent on the export of natural resources and cope with crises. This is always a concern as they often experience it. Since these economies often compete. However, we see that China is interested in importing Kazakh oil. Is this an opportunity for Kazakhstan?

The export of energy carriers is an important part of Kazakhstan’s budget revenues. Kazakhstan is predominantly oriented towards eastern markets and shows little interest in western markets. It is unlikely that this situation will change in the future. Because the demand of the Chinese market for Kazakh resources will remain for another fifty years. For this reason, it is not expected that there will be a serious problem between the two countries.

4. As you know, Western experts say that China tries to become a superpower like the former Soviet Union. What is your opinion on this matter?

Unfortunately, Western experts approach this whole process from the point of view of geopolitical and geostrategic problem or contradiction. From a historical point of view, Russian Empire initially did not have a goal to annex Central Asia, but only wished to ensure the security of the border. For that reason, Western researchers consider this topic from the point of view of geopolitical contradictions. However, it should be noted that China also takes a very pragmatic stance and advances its policy not based on unrealistic facts but based on economic interests and national security issues. In conclusion, it should be noted that the presence of China in Central Asia contributes to global security.

Timofei Vyacheslavovich Bordachev was born on January 28, 1973, in Leningrad. He graduated from the Faculty of History of St. Petersburg State University in 1995. He received a master’s degree in European Politics and Management from the College of Europe in Belgium in 1997. He defended his doctoral dissertation at St. Petersburg State University in 1998. In addition, he worked at the Russian Academy of Sciences as a junior and then as a senior researcher from 1998 to 2001. He is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Russia magazine for international politics from 2004. He also teaches at the Higher School of Economics at the National Research University, and he is the Director of the Center for International Studies at the same university.

Azerbaycan Cumhuriyeti Dışişleri Bakanlığı'na bağlı ADA Üniversitesi'nin Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümünde (2013-2018) lisansını yapan Kenan AĞAZADE, değişim programıyla Büyük Britanya'daki Glasgow Üniversitesi'nde okumuştur (2016-2017). Yüksek lisansını Küresel Politika ve Toplumsal Değişim alanında (2018-2020) İsveç'teki Malmö Üniversitesi'nden tamamlayan Kenan AĞAZADE, İsveç'te Rusya ve Kafkasya Bölgesel Araştırma Merkezi'nde (2019-2020) araştırma görevlisi olarak çalışmıştır. İyi derecede Rusça, İngilizce ve İsveççe bilmektedir.