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20 Romanian J. Eur. Aff. 120 (2020)
The European Union Strategy on Central Asia: Out of Game?

handle is hein.journals/rojaeuf20 and id is 250 raw text is: 


The European Union Strategy on Central Asia:
out of game?

Laszl6  Vasa'
        Abstract: The Council of the European Union adopted in June 2019 its new EU
Strategy on Central Asia. Besides the Eastern Partnership, the Central-Asian region is
one of the most relevant areas for the EU, so determining and shaping its development
priorities were of paramount importance. In this study, based on the developments and
feedbacks in recent months, I would like to demonstrate how the weak EU image due to
this document will be strengthened and why it is not suitable for reaching the goals which
are probably even not existing. My hypotheses are: 1) in fact, the EU does not have any
clear and real strategy focusing on Central Asia, 2) the EU is losing out on the game of
big and middle powers interested in the region, 3) the EU cannot exploit the economic
potentials of the region.
        Keywords:  Central Asia, strategy, foreign policy, soft power

        In Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, on 7 July 2019, the European Union
introduced its new Strategy on Central Asia2 ratified the previous month, on 17 June,
by the European  Council, Brussels. Indeed, this new strategy is the updated version
of the 2007 strategy. This previous version has been highly criticized on the one hand
due  to the lack of clear goals, on the other hand due to the seemingly important but
in fact marginal topics from the perspectives of Central Asian countries. While this
recent strategy is meant to be a more updated and tailor-made version to the current
conditions, the consonance of focus, goal and content is still missing from it. The EU
has been  criticized for its weak foreign policy, hesitation and prioritizing marginal
issues not only from outside but by member states, too (Molnir, 2018). This opinion
seems  to be strengthened by the ratifying commission as well, since opposed to the
year-long consultation they failed to create a strategy that focuses on EU interests as
well as on the interests and historical characteristics of the target countries in question.
        The concept of Central Asia has several international explanations including
the historical Soviet definition, the UNESCO explanation, and the modern geopolitical
one. The  name  Central Asia as a distinct geographical termination first appeared
in the book  of Prussian Alexander von Humboldt,  who  is considered to be one of
the founders of the science of geography (Humboldt,  1843). According to him, the
term  Central Asia refers to the Asian regions without sea exit. Following this line of
thought, UNESCO defines   the Central Asian region to cover Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, and Afghanistan (Dani et al. 1992).
According  to the Soviet definition, which was used in the 20th century, Central Asia
also included some  Chinese territories such as Inner-Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang
province, but it excluded Kazakhstan3. However, in this current study the most wide-

Laszl6 Vasa is research professor at Szechenyi Istvan University and senior researcher and chief advisor of the Institute
for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary. E-mail: laszlo.vasa@ifat.hu.
2 htts://wwwconsilium.eurOpa.eu/media/39178/stIO221-enl9.hdf (accessed 02 March 2020)
3 Great Soviet Encyclopedia electronic version httns:J/slovar.cc/enc/bse/2057489.html (accessed 27 February 2020)


Vol. 20, No. 2, December 2020

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