Libmonster ID: BY-2164
Author(s) of the publication: R. ANDREESHEV

R. ANDREESHEV, Candidate of Economic Sciences, Second Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

The new Central Asian States, like all the republics of the former USSR, faced similar difficulties during their independence. This is, first of all, a break in the established production and economic ties and, as a result, a decline in production, high inflation and rising prices, and impoverishment of the population. One of the main ways out of this situation, according to their leaders, was to join various international organizations, as well as to develop ties with Western countries. However, hopes for serious economic assistance from both these organizations and the West quickly faded.

As a result, the leadership of the Central Asian republics (CA) realized that to solve common problems, it is necessary to comprehensively expand regional cooperation. However, it soon became clear that such cooperation poses new problems for young states, which are impossible to solve alone, and extremely difficult to solve together. Examples include the reconstruction of the Aral Sea and the allocation of limited water resources.

Nevertheless, the ideas of Central Asian integration are not only not" set aside", but are being further developed, especially since there are objective geographical, historical, ethnic, confessional and economic prerequisites for this integration.

HOW THE CENTRAL WAS FORMED

In January 1994, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed an agreement on the creation of a single economic space, the purpose of which was to coordinate actions in the budget, tax, price, customs, currency and other areas.

According to articles 3 and 4 of this Treaty, the main tasks in forming the Single Economic Space are::

- creating the necessary legal, economic and organizational conditions for the free movement of capital and labor, ensuring the development of direct economic ties and industrial cooperation between the economic entities of the parties, promoting the creation of joint ventures, equal conditions for mutual investment of capital;

- application of free (contractual) prices in mutual trade, taking into account the integration of internal markets, and prevention of unilateral actions to restrict access of goods (services) to their markets;

- creating conditions for fair competition, including antimonopoly regulation mechanisms;

- elimination of customs duties and consistent reduction of taxes, fees and other restrictions, simplification of customs procedures, harmonization of customs legislation, unification of documentation forms for maintaining customs statistics;

- implementation of a coordinated policy in the field of transport and communications development aimed at efficient transportation of goods and passengers;

- gradual convergence of tariffs for cargo and passenger transportation, while respecting the principles of freedom of transit and mechanisms of tariff and non-tariff regulation 1.

In April 1994, Kyrgyzstan joined the Treaty. This association of three states was informally called the Central Asian Union. After the end of the civil war in March 1998, the Republic of Tajikistan joined the Treaty. However, the then leader of Turkmenistan said that his country would not join any unions.

Since July 1998, this association has been officially called the Central Asian Economic Community. By the decision of the "Quartet" of February 28, 2002, the bloc was transformed into a more universal Organization "Central Asian Cooperation" (CAC)2.

Within the framework of the Treaty on the Creation of the Single Economic Space on July 8, 1994, the following coordinating bodies of the regional organization were established::

- Interstate Council (at the level of presidents);

- Council of Prime Ministers;

- Council of Foreign Ministers;

- Council of Defense Ministers;

- Executive Committee (permanent working body of the Interstate Council).

Subsequently, during the work of the integration association, the member countries of the Community also established:

- Central Asian Development and Cooperation Bank;

- Interstate Council on the Problems of the Aral Sea;

- Commissions on association issues.

The Russian Federation has had observer status in CAC since 1996. On October 17, 2004, at the Organization's summit in Dushanbe, Russia signed a Protocol on

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After joining the Treaty on the Establishment of the CAC Organization, it became a full member of the Organization.

In June 1999, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine were also granted observer status in this integration association.

IT WAS SMOOTH ON PAPER...

To date, the association has signed more than 160 multilateral cooperation documents, adopted and approved more than 50 economic projects.

The integration projects of the Central Asian states have gone beyond just the economy. New aspects have emerged - political, humanitarian, informational, and regional security.

Thus, in 1995, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan developed a program of economic cooperation for the period up to 2000, which provided for: the creation of interstate consortia in the field of electric power and financial and industrial groups, measures for the rational use of water resources, the extraction and processing of mineral resources, the formation of a common agricultural market, the introduction of a full mutual convertibility of national currencies.

In 2000, the Community's Integration Development Strategy for the Period up to 2005 and the Program of Priority Actions for the formation of a Single Economic Space until 2002 were approved.It was decided to prepare for consideration by the Interstate Council a draft agreement on the establishment of an international water and energy consortium, the purpose of which is to share the resources of transboundary rivers.

Members of the Community considered environmental safety issues to be among the most acute and urgent problems. Among them are the problems of the Aral Sea, the rise of the Caspian Sea, the general depletion and contamination of soils, and water pollution. The financial and material resources of the countries of the region are clearly insufficient to solve these problems. Numerous joint attempts to find funds for the implementation of environmental projects ended in nothing.

Unfortunately, despite all attempts to bring the economies of the countries participating in the Agreement closer together, the overwhelming majority of all the declared initiatives remained on paper. The reasons lie on the surface.

Initially, it was assumed that in the course of integration, the economies of the association's members would complement each other as much as possible. Since Soviet times, Turkmenistan has been focused mainly on gas production, Uzbekistan-on cotton growing, Kyrgyzstan-on sheep breeding, Tajikistan-on hydropower. The economy of Kazakhstan has always been and remains the most developed and diversified. In addition, Kazakhstan remains the main supplier of grain to the Central Asian countries. On the other hand, all the countries of the region produce the same products in different volumes - oil, gas, cotton, non-ferrous and precious metals, and therefore they actually compete in the foreign market for each other. This, of course, does not contribute much to their large-scale integration.

The agrarian and raw material type of their economies, as well as the sharply different level of their socio-economic development, clearly does not contribute to strengthening the economic union of the four countries. There is practically no developed network of roads, railways and pipelines in the region, which makes it difficult to activate mutual trade.

In addition, the stated desire for integration implies some limitation of the sovereignty of the participating countries. However, the newly independent Asian states react very painfully even to the hypothetical possibility of limiting or infringing their sovereignty, regarding this as interference in the internal affairs of States. Politically, morally, morally, and civilizationally, all four countries are simply not ready for such a rapprochement.

However, relations between CAC members have always been quite contradictory. The creation of an intraregional system of collective security in Central Asia in the 1990s failed, because Uzbekistan did not agree in principle with the proposal to create a single defense space, any significant association of the armed forces, military infrastructure and a single command. 4

The problem of water resources in Central Asia is becoming more and more acute, complicating relations between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which are already far from "fraternal". The most water-rich

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the countries are Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They have plenty of water. And in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, it is not enough. Several times now, the conflict between Tashkent and Bishkek has almost turned into a power solution. 5

The problem of energy carriers, primarily Uzbek gas, is also solved in a peculiar way. Uzbekistan has long and successfully applied the practice of gas pressure on Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Tashkent has always managed to force contractors to make various economic and financial concessions in exchange for gas.

In the 1990s, there were several border incidents between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan related to territorial claims to each other. Uzbekistan also has "territorial tensions" with Kyrgyzstan. Almost everyone admits that in the 20s of the last century, the then Soviet authorities made big mistakes in defining the borders between the union republics. However, today no one can see the ways to eliminate these errors. The current situation has a destabilizing effect in the region. "Tashkent has already embarked on the path of "quiet" territorial seizures from its neighbors, having taken part of the territories in the south of Kazakhstan without fail. In fact, dozens of settlements in the Khatlon region of Tajikistan have been taken under Uzbek control. " 6

In addition, in the Central Asian region, there is a constant struggle for leadership between Alma-Ata and Tashkent.

In general, the CAC, alas, repeats the fate of the CIS. The Community did not become an organization that resolves contradictions in the region. Rather, we can say about the gradual increase in mutual claims and dissatisfaction with each other.

AND WATER CAN BECOME A "STUMBLING BLOCK"

According to the degree of water availability, Central Asia can be divided into two groups of countries. The first group includes Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the second - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. At the same time, for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, water scarcity means an economic catastrophe, since most of the industries of these countries (in Kazakhstan - metallurgy and chemistry, in Uzbekistan - cotton growing) are extremely "water-intensive". In this regard, the problem of water scarcity in the Central Asian region has reached the level of interstate relations and has become the subject of acute disagreements.

The natural and geographical features of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan do not allow them to fully develop agriculture. And the development of industry in mountainous areas, with the exception of the mining sector, is difficult. In this regard, in these republics, the emphasis is placed on the development of hydropower. The export of electricity literally "saves" their budgets (in Kyrgyzstan, it is about 20% of GDP)7 and allows them to update the main and auxiliary funds of hydroelectric power plants.

In turn, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan need large volumes of water to meet the needs of industry and agriculture. After all, more than 90% of the gross crop production in Central Asia is produced on irrigated lands8.

For the smooth operation of hydroelectric power plants, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan adhere to a certain regime of using available water resources, which consists in saving water in summer and using it in winter. The second group of countries in the region, on the contrary, need maximum water for irrigation, that is, in summer.

The problem of water supply for the needs of the national economy was solved in Soviet times by rather strict planning and directive methods, which, nevertheless, made it possible to solve water supply issues more or less completely, and most importantly, in a balanced manner. But after the collapse of the USSR, the unified management mechanism was destroyed. Although as early as February 18, 1992, the newly independent countries of the region signed an Agreement in Alma-Ata on the joint use of the water reserves of the then Central Asia, stating, among other things, the need to preserve the existing regime for managing the resources of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya basins. In the future, this decision was declaratively confirmed repeatedly. However, in practice, each of the participating countries-

page 54


The party to the Agreement seeks its own benefit.

RUSSIA CAN SAVE CAC IF IT WANTS TO

On September 27, 2005, during a meeting of the Council of Prime Ministers of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization in Dushanbe, the Russian delegation raised a number of issues aimed at improving the Organization's efficiency. At the same time, Russia assumed that the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) has already done much the same work on the economic block, and on the anti - terrorist component-in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Integration in these organizations is actually taking parallel courses, and CAC is lagging behind.

The results of the Central Asian Cooperation Summit in St. Petersburg on October 6, 2005 also confirmed the correctness of the course towards a natural "convergence" of the trade and economic components of the two organizations-the EurAsEC and the CAC.The most significant of them was the Decision "On the further development of integration processes in the Eurasian space", which provides for the unification of the CAC and the EurAsEC. The appeal of the Republic of Uzbekistan to join the EurAsEC was supported as meeting the common socio-economic and political interests of all CAC member States. This decision provides for the creation of a joint working group with the Eurasian Economic Community, which will prepare the necessary documents on the legal aspects of integration of these two organizations. It was agreed that the President of Tajikistan will remain chairman of the CAC until this process is completed.

It is now obvious that the creation of the CAC organization was a consequence of the weakening of Russian influence in Central Asia in the 1990s. Russia's place here was gradually taken by Western countries, primarily the United States. In Kazakhstan, for example, more than 80% of the country's strategic enterprises have already been transferred to the management of foreign firms.9 In Kyrgyzstan, Western companies control almost the entire gold mining industry. They are also successfully "mastering" the oil industry of Uzbekistan.

However, within the CIS, the elites of the Central Asian republics continue to consider relations with Russia as a priority, since the Russian Federation remains the largest creditor of 10 and a trading partner of 11 Central Asian states. In addition, only Russia today is capable of being a guarantor of security in this region and of ensuring that the current regimes, which are constantly accused by the West of lacking democratic freedoms, remain in power12.

It should also be said that the newly independent Central Asian states began to consider the Russian Federation in a certain sense as a fairly effective tool for solving some problems of their own survival. It is no secret that for most of the ruling regimes there, stimulating the process of free movement of labor has become an important element of state foreign policy. Unable to carry out a market transformation of national economies and unable to feed the surplus population of their countries, they solve the problem of employment and form a fund of accumulation and consumption in their states due to significant monetary receipts from Russia.

Our country should certainly make the most of the situation that has developed in the CAC countries and in the organization as a whole. Today, there is every opportunity to " tie " all four states more closely, primarily economically, to the Russian economy, convincing their elites of the many advantages of strengthening and developing long-standing traditions of integration with Russia in comparison with much less natural, and therefore less reliable, alliances with Western economic structures. As long as the CAC organization still exists, Russia should take a more active position in it, using it as a means of strengthening cooperation with the Central Asian States.


Shulga V. A., Samokhin V. M., Mantsev D. A., Aidina O. L. 1 Tendentsii razvitiya ekonomicheskikh soedineniy stran CIS [Trends in the development of economic associations in the CIS countries]. Promyshlennost Rossii. 1999, No. 9, pp. 39-40.

2 Central Asian Cooperation (reference information) / / website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation http://www.mid.ru.

3 See: Komissina I. M. Integratsionnye protsessy v Tsentral'noi Azii [Integration processes in Central Asia]. Collection of Articles No. 4. Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Moscow, 1995.

4 See: Zatulin K. F., Grozin A.V., Khlyupin V. N. National Security of Kazakhstan. Problemy i perspektivy [Problems and Prospects], Moscow, 1998, pp. 24-35.

Musin A. 5 Tashkent and Bishkek agreed on eternal friendship / / Nezavisimaya gazeta. December 27, 1996

Zatulin K. F., Grozin A.V., Khlyupin V. N. 6 National Security of Kazakhstan.., p. 32.

Kurtov A. 7 the Problem of water supply of the Central Asian States: the position of Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia and the Caucasus. 2004, No. 6, p. 134.

8 Ibid., p. 132.

Shumskiy N. N. 9 Sodruzhestvo Nezavisimykh Gosudarstv: problemy i perspektivy razvitiya [The Commonwealth of Independent States: Problems and prospects of development]. Moscow: UP "Technoprint", 2001, p. 188.

10 See: Kheyvets B. A. Russia and the CIS countries: Debts, Settlements, mutual Claims // Russia and the Modern World, 2005, N 3.

11 See: Andrianov V. D. Problemy i perspektivy formirovaniya Edinogo ekonomicheskogo prostranstva stran CIS [Problems and prospects of forming a Single Economic space of the CIS countries]. 2005, N 114.

12 See: Antonov S. Varshavsky dogo-vor-2 / / Weekly Magazine, Moscow, 2003, N 17.


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