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Tag: Central Asia

Great power competition returns to Central Asia

The Russian-Chinese duopoly retains strong clout in Central Asia. Western overtures to Central Asian nations, however, are still worrisome to Beijing and Moscow, which treat the region as their own backyard. Even though the United States is unlikely to replace Russian or Chinese influence in Central Asia, Washington can offer a geopolitical counterweight and expand its ties with the region, where a western presence is limited.

In early February this year US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, paid a rare visit to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The visit was yet another signal that Washington, under Donald Trump’s presidency, wants to strengthen ties with Central Asian nations and challenge Sino-Russian domination in the region. Pompeo's visit was part of Donald Trump's administration broad effort to reinvigorate ties with Central Asian nations which has come ahead of the unveiling of the United States Strategy for Central Asia 2019-2025 in February this year.

July 7, 2020 - Natalia Konarzewska

Youtubers, influencers and creative activists are the new vanguard in Central Asia

It is a decisive moment for Central Asia. Societies of the region are receptive to the EU’s messages of transparency, democracy and rule of law, but they are also under pressure from other regional powers. If the European Union wants its new Central Asia Strategy to have a positive impact, it should reach out to innovative groups and individuals calling for change.

Over the past decade, the European Union has ceded ground in Central Asia, not only to Russia and a newly assertive China, but also to the Gulf states and Turkey, and experts forecast its influence is set to further decline. As EU Special Representative Peter Burian once quipped, “China is coming with an offer nobody can refuse, while the EU is coming with an offer nobody can understand.”

April 7, 2020 - Barbara von Ow-Freytag

Students suffer sexual harassment in Kazakhstan

Both cultural change and awareness are fundamental in opposing sexual harassment in academia. After a string of widely publicised sexual harassment cases at several prestigious institutions of higher learning, Nazarbayev’s successor, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has the opportunity to spearhead the anti-sexual harassment campaign in Kazakhstan’s colleges and universities.

March 9, 2020 - Ararat L. Osipian

Latinisation of the Kazakh alphabet

How to understand the Kazakh case next to similar examples in the former Soviet Union.

December 3, 2019 - Okan Bahtiyar

New president, old authorities

Kazakhstan’s presidential election on June 9th was a breakthrough. It was the first election in the history of the young country where the main candidate was not Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had ruled Kazakhstan for almost 30 years. The country’s new president is Qasym-Jomart Toqaev, a long-time diplomat and confidant of Nazarbayev.

“I have made a difficult decision for myself – to resign from the powers of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” It was a historic moment when Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation live on TV on March 19th 2019. He made an unusual decision for a region where presidents tend to die in office rather than resign. This step came by surprise for many at that time but had been in preparation for years.

November 13, 2019 - Othmara Glas

Lord of the flies. Power struggles on Central Asia’s island of democracy

With its unique political model, Kyrgyzstan, in a region full of autocratic regimes, is sometimes called an “island of democracy”. This reference, however, does not imply full ascension of democracy.

Kyrgyzstan is often understood to be the only democracy in Central Asia. A transfer of power has happened here more often than its neighbours. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have witnessed replacement at the top following the death of their respective rulers; in Kazakhstan, the presidential change happened this year with the approval of its long-serving president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, as an aksakal , still retains significant political power; Emomali Rakhmon has been ruling Tajikistan, unchallenged, since the mid-1990s, when he rose to power after political turbulences and a bitter civil war.

November 13, 2019 - Rusif Huseynov

Talk Eastern Europe Episode 18 – Kazakhstan’s managed transfer of power

Talk Eastern Europe is back! After a short break for our own August recess, Adam and Maciek are back with a new episode of the podcast.

September 2, 2019 - Adam Reichardt Maciej Makulski

Russia resumes natural gas imports from Turkmenistan

On April 15th, Gazprom announced that it had resumed natural gas purchases from Turkmenistan after a three year hiatus. The announcement comes at a critical moment, when Ashgabat desperately needs new gas customers to prop up its suffering hydrocarbon-dependent economy.

May 31, 2019 - Natalia Konarzewska

A new authoritarian succession model being tested in Kazakhstan

The news of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s resignation as president of Kazakhstan announced on March 19th 2019 sent shockwaves across Eurasia. No post-Soviet leader has attempted a similar transition since 1991.

March 21, 2019 - Mariya Y. Omelicheva

A battleground of identity

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the post-Soviet space has become a battleground for world and regional powers competing over economic, political and security dominance. This rivalry has been accompanied by a competition between different identity narratives, which are instrumentally used to attract, or intimidate, the societies in the post-Soviet states. The most illustrative region in this regard is Central Asia.

The collapse of the Soviet Union brought new opportunities to its former republics, now states, to integrate or ally with organisations and powers from outside the region. It also allowed them to build new co-operative projects with other post-Soviet states. Such co-operation, though, was not limited to economic, political and security relations. The most fundamental questions the newly independent states had to address, at that time, were those regarding their own cultural and national identity. Therefore, the public debate focused heavily on issues like religion, language, alphabet, historical heritage and state tradition. These topics generated serious emotions, including among ordinary people.

March 5, 2019 - Adam Balcer

The essence of Central Asia

A review of Buran. Kirgiz wraca na koń. (Buran. Kyrgyz gets back on the horse). By: Wojciech Górecki. Publisher: Wydawnictwo Czarne, Sękowa, Poland, 2018.

Wojciech Górecki, who is one of the most talented Polish reporters covering Eastern Europe and Central Asia, has just released a new book. Interestingly it comes out half a century after another Polish reporter, Ryszard Kapuściński (often nicknamed the “Cesar of reporting”) travelled to the most exotic republics of the then Soviet Union: Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In his ventures, Górecki visited the same places as Kapuściński.

January 2, 2019 - Zbigniew Rokita

Where did I park my Bentley?

Almaty, Kazakhstan - a travel portrait of a Central Asian flower in the steppe.

July 20, 2018 - Sandra Lambert

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