Kazakhstan’s wish for stability and continuity under long-serving President Nazarbayev trumps the will for political change, especially given turbulence elsewhere on Russia’s borders. But without economic reform, full ethnic equality and a political succession plan, the Central Asian country risks becoming another brittle post-Soviet state vulnerable to external destabilisation.
Resource-led economic growth cannot mask the need for reforms in Kazakhstan as labour unrest, social divisions and a growing Islamist movement threaten the country’s stability.
China’s influence is growing rapidly in Central Asia at a time when the region is looking increasingly unstable.
The economic crisis has caused millions of migrant labourers from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to lose their jobs in the boom economies of Russia and Kazakhstan.
The Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commencing on 3 May 2003 is an opportunity to assess frankly and honestly the records of the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Competition for water is increasing in Central Asia at an alarming rate, adding tension to what is already an uneasy region.
For the past decade Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have all been involved in high stakes negotiations to define their respective borders. Strong-arm politics, economic pressures, shadowy backroom deals, nationalist sentiments, public dissatisfaction and an environment of mutual mistrust have marked this process.
In response to the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001, the United States and a broad though informal coalition of allies and like minded states are building up a military capability in Central Asia that will in all likelihood strike inside Afghanistan.