THE EUROPEAN UNION-CENTRAL ASIA RELATIONS: KAZAKHSTAN AS A LEADING ACTOR
Ulviyya Aydin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Associate Professor, Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, Celâl Bayar University (Manisa, Turkey)
Five independent republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—emerged in Central Asia (CA) after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The newly independent states have followed different foreign policies and established bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries and international organizations. One of these organizations is the European Union (EU). The relations of CA republics with the EU are prescribed by various documents that emphasize the common issues of democracy, human rights, rule of law, security, energy, transportation and trade. However, the EU’s relations with each of the CA countries are based on different legal bases and the priorities in relations vary from country to country primarily according to their internal dynamics. The majority of existing research analyzes the EU’s initiatives in CA republics and its attempts to establish partnership and cooperation with them from the viewpoint of the Union. However, it was observed that Kazakhstan’s role as a motivator in the EU-Central Asia relations is a neglected part of related studies. As the region’s largest country, Kazakhstan has adopted a multi-dimensional foreign policy, and prioritizes peace, welfare and security both within and outside of its borders.
This study aims to analyze Kazakhstan’s role in launching of policies by the EU in CA. Investigating the main developments between the EU and CA states during the past years, the authors determined that Kazakhstan has provided important contributions to the EU-CA joining process and is still encouraging other CA countries to cooperate more closely with the EU.