Current History: The Central Asian Vector

In general, the most important issue in the process of forming a new world order is the maintenance and strengthening of mutual trust. Without it, no issues can be resolved and nothing can be done reliably. Mutual trust can develop only in interaction, in discussions, in conversations and negotiations. In general, the new world order means a new mutual trust, writes Valdai Club Chairman Andrey Bystritskiy.

Any time in which people live can and should be called historical. It can also be said that the pace of history is uneven. Sometimes it speeds up, as it is doing today. And then it is felt everywhere; everywhere people feel the passage of time.

Few would contest the fact that the world experiences a rather radical transformation, with a new order taking shape. However, it’s quite another thing how this possible future order is understood. And, more importantly, how it will be created.

On the one hand, there is an obvious desire, primarily among the elites in the Western countries, to correct the current state of affairs; of course, to preserve the contemporary world hierarchy, the ideological and economic superiority of the West. Yes, of course, everyone understands that nothing is permanent in the world, but nevertheless their desire to follow the doctrine of the Western countries’ leadership is quite obvious. To put it simply, many Western politicians have a plan, a model for the future, and they want to convince and force others to follow this plan. They are ready to do this at almost any cost.

On the other hand, there is another, more stochastic, if you like, approach. According to this perspective, the future world order will not arise as a result of the intentions of the Western political elite. It will rather be generated by practical interaction between countries or their associations. In this case, there is no premeditated plan, although certain principles of interaction between various subjects of world politics are mandatory.

In recent years, especially in the wake of the aggravation of the conflict in Ukraine, it has become clear that the world is not simply divided between supporters and opponents of Western leadership, although there are many nuances in this matter. Already there are countries that have actually begun to shape this very new world order. It is clear that over time, more and more countries will be drawn into this process, if only because they will need to solve the problems facing their societies, develop their economies, and establish ties with other countries.

We can clearly see how rapidly, for example, the Middle East is changing: it is obvious that the countries of the region have embarked on a completely independent policy. This, by the way, does not entail confrontation with anyone.

Another macro-region where rapid changes are taking place is Central Asia. The role and importance of this region cannot be overestimated, if only because it is actually located in the centre of Eurasia. According to many historians, world culture originated in Central Asia (among other places). Some of the most basic ancient myths have their roots in this region. For example, the concept of avenging the death of a father or friend: the “old” hero is slain by a foe, and his son or comrade, overcoming incredible difficulties, administers justice. This trope, by the way, many insist is “Western”. 

It’s funny, but there is even the opinion that the Homeric story about the one-eyed giant Polyphemus and the creative Odysseus has Central Asian and South Siberian roots. Finally, some scientists believe that metallurgy owes much of its development to the Altai region. From there the metals came, for example, to China.
Asia and Eurasia
Russia and Central Asia: A Great Peaceful Game
Timofei Bordachev
The most important question for the Central Asian Five may be their ability to overcome the trap where they’re at a level of development when the destruction of the state is impossible, but so is reaching a new level in terms of the quality of life of the population. It is unlikely that Russia wants its most important southern neighbours to be in a position where the gap is insurmountable, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Timofei Bordachev.

The point, of course, is not in history and not in the bizarre ways in which world culture develops, but in the fact that the countries of Central Asia are faced with the need to rethink the priorities and forms of their development. They need to understand how they should act in a world where a confrontation exists between Russia and the West, in a world in which the role of China is growing, in a world in which new conflicts develop and old ones persist. In general, it is a very complex world.

So, you can’t envy the politicians of the Central Asian countries, they have to manoeuvre carefully.

Russia is the closest neighbour and ancient partner of the peoples and countries of Central Asia. It is clear to all more or less sensible people that a desirable future can only be formed through constructive interaction between the countries of the region. This should be understood as broadly as possible: China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Mongolia, and many other countries are partners for Russia and the countries of Central Asia. This is not only because the colossal Eurasian space provides innumerable opportunities for economic development, but also because there is a hypothetical opportunity to create a system of sustainable security in the region. Of course, for this we need to solve many problems and to overcome many old conflicts, for example, the Afghan one. But there is hope for the creation of a sustainable security system.
Of course, with all the importance of regional ties, we must not forget that we live in a broader world, where it is desirable to be friends, not enemies. Even this is easier to achieve with close and friendly neighbours.

Of course, this is only possible within the framework of a new future world order, the formation of which, at the regional level, is taking place before our eyes.

Just one more important circumstance, which is clearly manifested in the current crisis. This circumstance, this feature of the modern world, testifies to us that economic interest, class affiliation, and everything objective is no more important than relations between people. The main thing in human relations is trust, the ability to rely on another, to be sure that you don’t have to live according to the plot that was mentioned above as “Western”.

In general, the most important issue in the process of forming a new world order is the maintenance and strengthening of mutual trust. Without it, no issues can be resolved and nothing can be done reliably.

Mutual trust can develop only in interaction, in discussions, in conversations and negotiations.
In general, the new world order means a new mutual trust.

On May 16-17, in Tomsk, a city closely connected with Central Asia both historically and geographically, the Central Asian conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, titled “Russia and Central Asia: Aligning With a Changing World” will be held. There, the issues touched in this article and many others will be discussed.

The title of the conference suggests that the countries of the region are deeply involved in global dynamics. They simply cannot develop an effective strategy on their own without adapting the world around them a little for themselves. It is clear that we ourselves need to show flexibility, but still we need to outline and feel our limits, create a zone of trust and relative comfort, as well as friendly interaction. And, of course, to understand clearly where this zone ends.
Russia and Central Asia: Common Challenges and Points of Growth
Artem Dankov
What challenges face Central Asia? What limits the development of opportunities? Artem Dankov, Associate Professor of the Department of World Politics at Tomsk State University discusses the most important long-term trends that are shaping the socio-economic landscape of Central Asia for the coming decades.