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Integration in Central Asia


Submitted By easanova28
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In terms of Central Asian integration, the period of Soviet Union power in this territory is extremely important. The Soviet administration was the most important governing body for more than 70 years (1918-1991). The boundaries of modern independent states was clearly identified in this period. The composition of the economic regions of the USSR changed in line with the objectives of improving the management and planning of the economy in order to accelerate and improve the efficiency of social production. It means that the economy of one particular division was narrow directed. For instance, Uzbekistan became the main supplier of cotton in the region. It leaded to the reformation of the irrigation system of Central Asia and great expansion of irrigation canals. As a consequence of short-sighted politics in relations of water, the Aral Sea had experienced numbers of serious problems that are not resolved even till now . Kazakhstan also became a victim of politically repressive Soviet regime with its flour specialization. The economies was severely affected by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting loss of their vast market.
However, the Soviet period has also some advantages in the life of Central Asian countries. The realization of the road and railway infrastructure project started its existence when five states were the parts of the USSR. In spite of the fact that the ethnic diversity was disregarded during the Soviet period, the education had big importance and was raised on the higher level. Moreover, as the boundaries of the countries were conditional, there was a free movement of goods and people on the whole territory of the Union.
After the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the administrative divisions became sovereign states but they experienced the effect of the Soviet system even after the cessation of its existence.

Modern conditions in Central Asia and Afghanistan
Today, the former Soviet Republics are the sovereign countries that build their economy in own ways. They have achieved different results.
The economy of Uzbekistan directs mainly on the commodity production such as cotton , uranium , gold and natural gas . The inner policy of the country and issues concerning the human rights became targets of international criticism. The republic of Kazakhstan is developing a lot its hydrocarbon industry with the export of oil, wheat, textiles, and livestock. The country is on way of developing the market economy and stepped aside from the Soviet governing style. Turkmenistan or Turkmenia obtains the huge resources of natural gas and its export is based mainly one commodity . As other Central Asian countries, it was criticized for the violation of human rights. The country has a significant role in the exporting the electrical power on the territory of Central Asia. The republic of Kyrgyzstan has had the most unstable situation in recent years among other five former Soviet states. In view of political disorders, the economy of Kyrgyzstan suffered a lot and nowadays, it is the second poorest country in Central Asia . The economic conditions of the country depends on the agriculture, metallurgy and export of hydroelectric power. The Republic of Tajikistan experienced a five-years civil war that had a significant impact on the situation in the country. However, while it is the poorest country in Central Asia, the economy of Tajikistan is improving with the help of trading such commodities as cotton, aluminium and uranium. In addition, the republic lives at the expense of many migrant workers (mainly in Russia). Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has been suffering from the constant wars that made the country one of the most inappropriate place for living. It tries to improve the transportation and agriculture systems, which is vital for the republic .
In spite of the fact, that all of these countries obtain different economic and political conditions, it is still possible to say that they have much in common. Five former Soviet republics is now secular states but the Islam is the predominant religion across these states as in Afghanistan. The countries also differ by their similarity having one irremovable leader during the considerable period. Due to the long history of countries, majority of them share more or less similar principals and cultural values. The region is landlocked and it is very important to improve the connection between countries to build healthy economy helping and supporting each other. All these countries are connected by the common water resources and need to create an organization based on the water management in the region. Being separated parts, it will be extremely difficult task to reach the success as the big players (Russia, China, USA) are interested in the policy of separation in Central Asia. Even if the country is experiencing hard times, the integration process in the region is able to improve it. The fact of having such neighbor will affect negatively on the economies of all near states. Therefore, it is in the interests of all countries to support the ideas of integration and unification.
Central Asia is located in the center of the Eurasian continent and is of strategic importance in terms of its impact on the security and stability of Eurasia. The development of the situation in each of the Central Asian states and the region as a whole in a particular scenario can largely determine the balance term of power in Eurasia. The concentration of natural resources, especially hydrocarbons, draws attention to the region of many leading countries. Moreover, they have specific geopolitical goals, as the control over the fuel and energy resources and their transportation routes enables a direct impact on the situation in the region and world market conditions. Central Asia lies at the junction of the Eurasian transport corridors and has a broad transportation and communications network . Trough Iran the region has access to the Persian Gulf, trough Afghanistan and Pakistan - to the Indian Ocean, through China - in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.

Previous attempts of Central Asian unification
In modern history, the countries had experienced few attempts of integration. First was immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and was called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In this case the CIS initially did not have supranational authority that ultimately determined its amorphous as interstate structure. The lack of supranational authority and the lack of control over the implementation of the decisions taken in the framework of the CIS, quickly led to the fact that these decisions did not have binding nature for its participants. All the leaders of the Central Asian states shared the belief in the necessity of integration, and that was reflected in periodically proposed integration projects. In particular, the integration proposals were announced by the president of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in April 1993 ; the first president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov declared about the idea of a confederation of the five Central Asian republics in the mid-90s of last century. The most conceptually developed at that time the idea - the creation of a Eurasian Union (EAU) – was advanced by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, which he first made publicly with during a lecture at MSU in March 1994 . However, originally, the "idea" of the Kazakh leader was directed actually not so much on the common interests of integration within the post-Soviet space, how to implement their own national goals. In the process of regional integration, Kazakhstan wanted to take the position of leader in the post-Soviet Central Asia. the problem was that Uzbekistan still has not left with exactly the same intentions (to become "elder brother" in former Soviet Central Asia), and, which has not only common borders with all four Central Asian countries, but also with Afghanistan.
The first agreements on regional cooperation between Central Asian countries have been achieved in 1993. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed an agreement on measures to deepen economic integration, and in January 1994 the two countries signed an agreement on the establishment of the Common Economic Space . Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan joined in 1994 and 1998 respectively. After that, it was decided to shift the emphasis on organization and economic cooperation, the SES was transformed into the Central Asian Economic Community (CAEC), which then, was reorganized into the Organization of Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) in December 2001. In 2001, the agreement on establishing the EurAsEC entered into force. By the end of 2003, it became clear that in the framework of the Central Asian Cooperation most key agreement has not been implemented. In 2004, Russia joined CACO, and then by the proposal of the president of Uzbekistan, after Uzbekistan joined the EurAsEC in 2005 the merger of the two organizations took place. The membership itself in EurAsEC, could not lead to the efficiency of interaction on economic issues between the former Soviet countries automatically without mutual concessions and compromise.
Water situation in Central Asia
Despite frankly the fail of previous attempts, it is necessary to continue the integration process in Central Asia. The experience of European Union showed that the unification needs forces and willingness to create a supranational organization that works in reality not only on the paper. As it was mentioned above, the start of successful unification was European Coal and Steel Community mainly between France and Germany. It means that finding the subject of integration like coal and steel is a key to realization of these ideas. Moreover, it is important to have in mind that the presence of big players in local integration organization could create obstacles in the process.
The majority of aspects of modern development in Central Asia related with the struggle for resources, for example, the problem of regional integration. The water problem in the region constitutes one of the most illustrative examples of how the struggle for resources hinders integration and exacerbates interstate conflicts and ethnic divisions. Amu Darya and Sir Darya are the biggest water resources in the region. Water resources of the Amu Darya basin has long been exhausted . This is the largest by catchment river in Central Asia, especially in its middle and lower reaches, literally excised by the channel system. Formally, the agreement on the usage of water was signed among States located in the Amu Darya basin.
Conditionally, there are two groups of states in Central Asia . The first consists of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the second - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The first group of States does not have any significant hydrocarbon reserves, which represents a significant percentage of export earnings in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. However, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan possess the sources of the rivers of Central Asia; they have a stake in the development of its own hydropower. Nevertheless, the second group of countries, especially Uzbekistan is interested in large quantities of water for domestic agriculture.
For Uzbekistan, the preservation of existing practices, caused by water conflict, threatens a substantial decrease in the future opportunities to provide drinking water to the population living in large cities such as Namangan, Andijan, Fergana and Kokand. The shortage of drinking water in the Central Asian can lead to the deterioration of the epidemiological situation in these densely populated areas. For Kyrgyzstan the decision to agree to the demands of the neighbors in the form of giving large amounts of water in the summer is difficult. Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in the region.
The situation complicates by the fact that a significant number of energy specialists, serving the energy sector of Kyrgyzstan, was forced to immigrate to other countries, primarily in Russia and attempts to use the services of Turkish and Malaysian experts have not led to the expected success. Overall, more than 70 % of the networks and facilities of water supply and irrigation in Kyrgyzstan needs urgent renovation and upgrading. Therefore, the Kyrgyz side in response to the claims of their neighbors often pushes counterproposals on payment of the cost of reconstruction and maintenance of Kyrgyz hydroelectric complexes.
The way to resolve existing conflicts is through multilateral cooperation of States. Unilateral actions of individual countries, which now take place, aggravate the situation and delay the solution to the problem of regional security and integration in Central Asia.
Possible problems
Despite a number of advantages promised by the integration of Central Asia, there are a number of obstacles in this process. Maybe the most important one is the fact that not all the leaders of the republics of Central Asia tend to integrate. Thus, Kazakhstan aims to pursue a foreign policy that is maneuvering between the interests of the big players - Russia, the U.S. and China. Uzbekistan refuses the integration, which involves the creation of supranational structures of management and coordination, and prefers bilateral format. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, due to the plight of the socio- economic sphere in these countries are ready to integrate with Kazakhstan. They in return for the union headed by Astana, push demand of financial and economic assistance. However, the absence of imperial traditions in the history of Kazakhstan, as well as the remaining attitude in the minds of Kazakhstani colonial past, which created a psychology of the people factor - the "little brother", does not give the possibility of integration of Kazakhstan with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. As for Turkmenistan, in connection with a declared foreign policy concept of this country - the neutrality nor any question of integration with Central Asian countries cannot go.
The ethno-political issues aggravate the situation. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are wary hostile to each other because of the presence of ethnic Uzbeks in Tajikistan and Tajiks in Uzbekistan. The economic crisis is also not conducive to the integration of the region. Thus, the lack of financial resources, as well as the return of migrant workers from Russia and Kazakhstan to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan encourages these countries to seek a way out of this situation. Uzbekistan increases gas prices for Tajik and Kyrgyz consumers. In response - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will boost the construction of hydropower facilities on their territories. Besides, the external player (Russia, China and the U.S.) have a big impact on the situation in the region.

Central Asian Integrated Water Resource Management
As it can be clearly seen, one of the most sensitive issues in Central Asia is water resource management. It is possible that the resolution of this problem could be a strong impetus for deeper integration on the territory of Central Asia. The creation of Central Asian Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) would be a basis for the region development. It is important to include Afghanistan to the number of members because the political and economic situation in this country has direct effect on the situation in the whole region. The stability in Afghanistan will open new trade ways and the nearest access to the sea trade. Total number of IWRM members is five Central Asian countries including Afghanistan.
The creation of this organization should be in the form of agreement because the potential member-states would have more confidence of not losing their sovereignty. Basing of the experience of ECSC the foundation of new organization is threefold: common regulations, common aims and common institutions. Water resource management limits the principle of common regulations. The lawfulness of this principle does not spread on the other spheres of member-states economies at least on the start phase. The agreement would say that the IWRM fulfills its obligations in accordance with articles of agreement and with the limited power of interference to the sovereign authorities.
The agreement declares that Central Asian IWRM is a juridical person and obtains legal capacity in each of member-states. It may acquire and transfer real and personal property, and may sue and be sued in its own name. The institutions of IWRM should exercise its activity with minimum using of the administrative mechanism and close collaboration with interested sides.
The institutions of the IWRM shall be as follows

The High Board
The High Board will play the key role. It shall be responsible for assuring the fulfillment of the purposes stated in the Treaty under the terms of the agreement. The High Board shall be composed of seven members designated for six years and chosen for their general competence. The members of this governing body will be chosen only from the citizens of member-states. Furthermore, acting in the interests of the whole community, they should be independent from the politics of each independent country in the fulfillment of their obligation. In the fulfillment of their duties, they shall neither solicit nor accept instructions from any government or from any organization. The High Board is the highest executive body, enjoying its authorities according to the nature of new organization. The decisions, recommendations and opinions of the High Board is binding for party, which it was done for.
The Consultative Committee
There shall be created a Consultative Committee, attached to the High Authority. It shall consist of not less than thirty and not more than fifty-one members, and shall include experts in equal numbers. The High Authority may consult the Consultative Committee in any case it deems proper. It shall be required to do so whenever the Treaty of the agreement prescribes such consultation.
The Common Parliament
The Common Parliament will play the role similar to European Parliament. It shall discuss in open session the general report submitted to it by the High Board. For a variety of important issues, it should ratify the decisions of the Board. The Parliament will composed of representatives of member-states who were chosen by the population, not the parliaments, one from each country. The number of delegates is fixed as follows: Kazakhstan - 18, Uzbekistan – 18, Turkmenistan—14, Kirgizstan- 14, Tajikistan- 14, Afghanistan- 10. The Parliament shall designate its President and officers from among its membership. The most serious control-lever of the assembly will a motion of censure, the power to make the High Board to resign.
The Special Council (Ministers)
To counterbalance the High Authority, the Special Council of Ministers shall exercise the supervisory powers, which are granted to it by the agreement of Central Asian IWRM. The Council will have a right to apply to the High Authority for putting forward sufficient propositions needed for common purposes. The Council may request the High Authority to examine all proposals and measures, which it may deem necessary or appropriate for the realization of the common objectives. The Council shall be composed of representatives of the member States. Each State shall designate one of the members of its government. The Council shall communicate with the member States through the intermediary of its President.
The Court of Justice
The Creation of the Court in IWRM has a principal significance. The function of the Court is to ensure the rule of law in the interpretation and application of the agreement and of its implementing regulations on the territory of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The Court of Justice consisted of seven judges nominated for six years by common agreement between the governments of the Member States. The Court is aimed to examine the issues connected with the application and the interpretation of the agreement and the legality of the IWRM governing bodies’ decisions. It will be empowered to abolish the decisions and recommendations of the High Authority on the grounds of lack of legal competence, the infringement of procedure or the abuse of powers.

Integration is a very important process that unites the separated parts to the one body making it more powerful and successful. This process has its advantages and disadvantages but still it can bring stability and welfare to the region. The European Union is the most outrageous example of integration. It began from the limited-power organization the European Coal and Steel Community that transformed into the unprecedented European Union. Looking to this market with clear political aspirations, Central Asia took several attempts to strengthen its integration processes. This region draws attention of many countries because it obtains rich natural resources and advantageous geopolitical position. These attempts faced internal and external difficulties, such as personal unwillingness of some leaders in Central Asia, interference of other countries in their own interests. Besides, the mutual claims towards each other prevent achieving obvious benefits. However, Central Asia needs power that can make it possible to overcome difficulties and bring prosperity to the young sovereign countries. Being one of the most sensitive issue, water can be a key for strong integration on this territory. The creation of Central Asian Integrated Water Resource Management is a vital step for subsequent strengthening in the region. Nevertheless, in order to make it efficient the potential member-states should reject their personal fears and desires and start thinking in bigger scale and only in this case they could resist the common problems and achieve the truly high success for their citizens.


Foster, N., Foster on EU Law (OUP Oxford 2011)
Topornin, B., Европейское право (Юристъ, Moscow 1998)

Primary legislation:
Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community [1951] OJ C 191
Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community [2007] OJ C306/01

Online sources:
Baydarov, E., Центральная Азия: проблемы и противоречия интеграции ( 2011) accessed 4 November 2013
Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Relations With Tajikistan ( 16 November 2012) < > accessed 30 November 2013
Cameron, F., The European Union as a model for regional integration ( September 2010) < > accessed 4 November 2013, Population below poverty line ( 2012) accessed 30 November 2013, Rankings ( 2012) accessed 3 December 2013, Treaty establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, ECSC Treaty ( 15 October 2010) accessed 1 December 2013
Hasanov, H., Turkmen GDP ups by 11.1 per cent since early 2012 ( 17 December 2012) < > accessed 30 November 2013, Uzbekistan - Electricity production from natural gas sources ( 2010) accessed 3 December 2013
Kurtov, A., Водные конфликты в Центральной Азии ( 2004) < > accessed 5 November 2013
Medvedev, A., Опыт интеграции на постсоветском пространстве ( 21 October 2013) accessed 6 December 2013
Peuch, J., Central Asia: A Search For New Integration Models ( 6 November 2006) accessed 5 December 2013, Война за водные ресурсы и интеграция в Центральной Азии (Russian, 31 March 2010)< > accessed 4 November 2013
Smagulov, K., Интеграция стран Центральной Азии и фактор внешних геополитических игроков ( 10 March 2010) < > accessed 5 November 2013, Supply of Uranium ( August 2012) accessed 5 December 2013, Afghanistan ( 5 November 2013) accessed 4 December 2013
U.S. Library of Congress, Environment ( 2010) accessed 2 December 2013
Zarakhovich, Y., Kazakhstan Comes On Strong ( 27 September 2006) accessed 2 December 2013

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