About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

71 Foreign Aff. 108 (1991-1993)
Central Asia's Catapult to Independence

handle is hein.journals/fora71 and id is 570 raw text is: Martha Brill O/cott

IE    peoples of the world have ever been forced to become
independent nations. Yet that is precisely what happened to
the five Central Asian republics after Russia, Belarus and
Ukraine-the three original signatories of the U.S.S.R.'s
founding 1922 constitution-met in Minsk on December 8,
1991, and created a new Commonwealth of Independent
States (cis).
That action by the three Slavic presidents left Central Asian
leaders with an unpleasant choice: they could go it alone-
either singly or as a group-or they could shrug off the
intended snub by their Slavic counterparts and agree to join
the Commonwealth. After a hurried meeting in Ashkhabad,
Turkmenistan's capital, they chose the latter course. If inde-
pendence had to occur, it was best achieved gradually; the new
Commonwealth structures, they conceded, would make it
easier to regulate their interdependent economies.
To salve the smart of their initial exclusion the first meeting
of the expanded Commonwealth was held in the Kazakh
capital of Alma-Ata; the original Slavs-only club was thus
recast in a Eurasian mold. That December 21 meeting de-
clared the former Soviet republics sovereign and independent,
as well as part of an extragovernmental union. Each republic,
for the first time, had full control of its own natural resources
and local economic enterprises.
Newly independent nations face extraordinary challenges,
even under the best circumstances, and they usually hold the
leaders who won that independence in high regard. The
Central Asian leaders, however, were inadvertent founding
fathers. Most were once part of the old Soviet Union's nomen-
klatura, which was in turn largely drawn from the region's
traditional ruling elites. These leaders were neither democrats
nor dictators, nor nationalist heroes. Some were opportunists;
most were sincere in the desire to secure their countries'
Martha Brill Olcott is Professor of Political Science at Colgate University
and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia.

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most