International Developments

Regionalism in Central Asia

The new feature of regionalism lies on its refusal from traditional views regarding the process of regionalization based on the state-centered model. According to new regionalism, the processes of integration can be based on economic and political aspirations, as well as shared values, historical memory, and cultural heritage. Besides, there is a shift in the analysis of regional emergencies from Europocentric approach to more local approach incorporating regional characteristics which could be omitted in the studies of regions and organizations of Asia and Eurasia. Taking into this transition in research, this essay examines the effect of new regionalism on Central Asia and Kazakhstan being an essential part of world order. 

The construction of Central Asia during globalization is often characterized by the proliferation of ethno-cultural relations and by the dependence on the actions of external factors. This led to the stereotypical view of the region describing its importance solely based on its energy and natural resources. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the geographical location of Central Asia limits its access to waters, causing transit dependence on neighbouring countries. Despite these facts, the position of the region has been strengthening on international political area. Up until recently, CA was considered to be the area of Russia’s exclusive influence. Besides, the academic discourse regarding CA was dominated by pessimistic prognosis and negative assessment of the region’s capabilities. Therefore, we can conclude that the potential and importance of Central Asia has been underestimated. 

If to consider regionalism as a dynamic process, then the notion of integration and disintegration can be perceived differently. For example, CA is not a static region with strictly defined borders. Thus, the region is viewed as a constructed entity that can be deconstructed as well. The existence of region and its borders are defined via various actors’ actions and strategies. That is why the possibility of enlargement of CA becomes clear in the recent period. 

The countries of Central Asia is vulnerable to the adverse processes of globalization. The policy renewed policy of the US towards Russia, the global increase in the prices of raw material, or China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative – all these countries strivings to global dominance has direct effect on the region. In this case, regionalism offers solution to CA states to withstand these obstacles by strengthening their position and interests and incorporating the experience of ASEAN and EU. For example, regionalism can offer solutions to the question of Afghan crisis, Ukrainian war, security issues of radical movements, direct and indirect impacts of conflicts between world powers. Moreover, regionalism creates conditions for securing human rights and human rights protection and offers solutions to improvement of regional means in developing transnational highways.

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