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Security Challenges in Central Asia: Implications for the EU

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About this Event

12 Oct 2011 @ 12:45

You can listen and download the keynote speech in .mp3 format here.

About this Event:

EU Special Representative Pierre Morel briefed members on the security challenges facing Central Asia and the EU’s strategy for facing these challenges. He highlighted the importance of this region for global security, particularly with regard to the problems of terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and environmental issues.

Ambassador Morel explained that the central element of the EU’s strategy for Central Asia is to establish a long-term partnership with the countries of the region. The work of the EU in the region focuses on six priorities: rule of law, human rights and democratisation; education; trade and investment; energy; environment and water, and common threats. The work of the EU in the region is now organised around these six priorities, replacing the more piecemeal approach of the earlier TACIS programme.

In explaining in greater detail the problems facing the region, Ambassador Morel first noted the likelihood of internal transition in the five states of Central Asia in the coming years. The potential for a leadership change to create significant political turmoil is evident from previous violent transitions in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In fact, Ambassador Morel suggested that the events of April 2010 in Kyrgyzstan were a prelude to the Arab Spring as the same conditions and process of change were present. By focusing on the rule of law, human rights and democratisation in the region, the EU aims to be prepared for the tension and upheaval that may arise as a result of any political transitions.

Afghanistan is another problem for the region in the context of drug trafficking and the uncertainty which the situation there creates for Central Asia as a whole. Another central issue is energy, though Ambassador Morel emphasized that the EU is not only interested in Central Asia because of oil and gas. Cooperation in the field of energy is also in the interests of the five Central Asian states, which have the potential to be energy-exporting countries but are landlocked and far away from the major energy routes. 

A problem relating to this, and to other security concerns in Central Asia, is that there is very little regional coordination among the five countries. This is why other international organisations, like the OSCE and UN, and partners like the EU, have an important role to play in the region. Russia, the ruler of Central Asia for centuries, is one of the most important players in the region. Ambassador Morel argued that Russia has the potential to be a partner of the EU in the region rather than a contender, and he believes that a commonality of interests will increasingly emerge as security challenges unfold.

In conclusion, the EU’s strategy in Central Asia is a long-term, incremental investment. The EU is not one of Central Asia’s many strong neighbours, but it does have the potential to become a very substantial partner.

About the Speaker:

Ambassador Pierre Morel was appointed EU Special Representative for Central Asia in October 2006. From September 2008 until August 2011 he was entrusted with an additional mandate as EU Special Representative for the crisis in Georgia. Ambassador Morel began his diplomatic career in 1971. As a French national diplomat, he has had a number of ambassadorial assignments, including Russia, (1992-1996), China (1996-2002), and the Holy See (2002-2005). In 1991, he worked in Paris as diplomatic advisor to the President of the French Republic, and participated in the negotiation of the Maastricht Treaty.

The IIEA wishes to acknowledge the support it has received from the European Commission throughout 2011.

Theme: Foreign Policy and ESDP  Justice & Law 

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