Ebook: Towards Social Stability and Democratic Governance in Central Eurasia
Through invasions, migrations, trade and cultural exchange, developments in Central Eurasia have, for millennia, impacted upon the history of both Europe and Asia. For the last three hundred years, Central Eurasia has been the stage upon which great empires clashed. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Central Eurasia has once again emerged as a region of geo-political concern with various new international actors involved: the USA, international monetary organizations, strategic alliances, TNCs, NGOs, regional blocks, as well as criminal groups and ethno-religious movements. The new ‘centrality’ of Central Eurasia brings new security threats to the region’s population, to Europe and to the rest of the world. Repressive political regimes and marginalization of whole groups of the population inflame conflicts that spill across national borders. Migration to Europe, both legal and illegal, the illicit production and trade of drugs are the direct outcome of social-economic destabilization in Central Eurasia. Territorial disputes, border conflicts and competition for resources among the Central Eurasian ethnicities have become the unfortunate reality. Post-Soviet Central Eurasia, as a direct neighbor to the turbulent Middle East, is a potential playground for extremist movements: radical Islamic groups and terrorist organizations. The contributors to this book, coming from various theoretical schools and presenting innovative interdisciplinary approaches, provide their views on the socio-political challenges confronting the nine Central Eurasian states - Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The book presents scientific discussions on the historical development of Central Eurasia and its socio-cultural legacies; Soviet and contemporary state organization, social transformation and communal structures; the current economic conditions as a precursor to social stability and development; and geo-political arrangements and political changes over the last two decades.
The present volume results from the proceedings of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) “Towards Social Stability and Democratic Governance in Central Eurasia: challenges to regional security”, which was organized and held by the editor of this book and Prof. W.A.L. Stokhof, Director of the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), on 8-11 September 2004 in Leiden, the Netherlands. Together with Prof. Stokhof, I express my gratitude to the NATO Science Fellowship Programme Committee for providing funding for the event and especial thanks to the Programme director, Prof. Fernando Carvalho-Rodrigues for encouraging and stimulating us.
Our thanks go to other sponsors of the meeting – Leiden University, the Research School of Asian, African and Amerindian Studies (CNWS), Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and especially to the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), which awarded me with a fellowship to start and realize this project.
The four-day workshop was prepared and run by the professional team of the IIAS and I am especially grateful to Drs. Marloes Rozing for her great organizational work and, as a result – the successful meeting we all enjoyed.
My thanks and compliments to all the participants of our NATO ARW – those who publish their papers in this volume, those who will publish in other editions and those who contributed as discussants: Prof. Leonid Friedman, Dr David Lewis, Prof. Coby van der Linde, Prof. Michael Kaser, Dr Elena Sadovskaya, Prof. Touraj Atabaki, Prof. Nazim Imanov, Dr Mehdi Amineh, Dr Farkhod Tolipov, Dr Andrey Fursov, Prof. Mehrdad Haghayeghi, Dr Kashinath Pandita, Dr Beate Eschment, Dr Togrul Juvarly, Prof. Jacques Legrand, Dr Otar Kandelaki, Prof. Nina Dyulgerova, Prof. E.J. Zürcher, Dr Pynar Akcaly, Prof. Catherine Poujol, Dr Saodat Olimova, Prof. A. Bayat, Dr M. Spechler, Dr Rafis Abazov, Prof. Marat Ishankulov, Drs. Kees Homan, Drs. Nana Janashia, Prof. J. Boldbaatar, Dr Alisher Ilkhamov, Prof. Robert Cutler, Dr Paul Geiss, Dr Marfua Tokhtahodjaeva, and Dr Greg Austin.
As an editor I am greatly obliged to all the authors of this book for their scientific input and sparkling ideas, from which I continue to learn and take inspiration. I am grateful to all the reviewers, who preferred to stay anonymous, and also to many colleagues of mine, who shared their professional opinions with me.
I am very obliged to our copy editors – Renata Jasaitis and John O'Sullivan for their hard work and patience. I am sincerely thankful to Dr Uwe Bläsing for his assistance with the maps for this book.
This paper discusses the direct influence Central Eurasia had on Eurasia and the world as a whole in a long-term historical perspective, and the current geostrategic situation in Central Eurasia. A. Fursov stresses the geohistorical centrality of Central Eurasia between the XV-XIII centuries BC and XIII-XV centuries AD. Now, after the dissolution of the USSR and the formation of the New Independent States from the former Soviet republics, centrality seems to have returned to this part of Eurasia, though not on its previous scale.
Central Eurasia had a great influence on the world in an indirect form – in the form of the Central Eurasian power model (CEPM). In this model, control over population is more important than control over land, hence power is more important than property. The CEPM was initially forgotten by the Mongols on the basis of 1500 years of development of nomad empires. In the agricultural space of Russia and due to contacts with the Russian principalities this model became transformed into Russian power. In the twentieth century, to survive in the capitalist system and to maintain its initial geohistorical algorithm this power took form of Soviet communism, i.e. world anti-capitalism. Now after the breakdown of communism, Russia is at the point of bifurcation and it will take several years to see which path of development it will choose.
A tentative analysis of the way in which conditions and constraints prevailing at the very basis of a pastoral nomadic technical and social system have to be considered too as the background of political and strategic trends common to nomadic societies in Central Eurasia. In a society dominated by its dispersion needs, compromise retains a major positive place and role as a way of thinking and as a practical tool for the identifying and solving of arising contradictions.
A persistent bipolarity exists in the new global thinking: that democratic forces claim for democracy and human rights and that Islamic activists claim for justice (meaning social justice by the will of God). In fact, even during the Cold War, when the world was divided into two blocks, capitalism versus communism, the supporters of democracy were already facing the supporters of social justice. This article underlines why, since 1991, the elites of the new Central Asian independent states were not inclined to implement the Western values that the West insistently tried to bring them. Apparently isolated from the rest of the Muslim Community by the iron curtain, the Central Asian states have demonstrated there was in fact a specific pattern of Islamic persistency within the Soviet ideological frame that rested on an original compromise, which was unknown to the West. This social contract between Muslim leaders and the Soviet Communist party was mostly made in order to fight political Islam which was gaining influence from the end of the 1980s. For both, the political enemy was first the capitalist West, with its attribute of democracy, and second, radical Islam that wanted to get rid of the official Muslim leaders as they were “sold to the atheistic regime”. With the collapse of the Soviet system, the newly independent Central Asian ex-Soviet leaders were faced with a harsh challenge: working together with their former Western enemy to build the so-called market economy with its democratic values. They became very rich, losing the legitimacy given them by the Soviet ideology of social justice which, in turn, became the basic claim of the Islamic movements. Since 9/11 the fight between democracy and justice is as contested as ever; only the borders of each block have changed. We all live now under the global threat of small- or large-scale tragedies, the “fear industry”, as French sociologist Michel Wieworka wrote in 2003. After fifteen years of independence, the first political overthrow occurred in Kyrgyzstan in March 2005 in the name of justice without any reference to Islam. The turmoil currently taking place in Uzbekistan has a greater link between Islam and justice.
This chapter analyses the legacy of traditional and Soviet social structures as conditions for further social and political development in Central Asia and Mongolia. The dichotomy, historically repeated in Central Asia, between the traditional communal structures and the supreme sovereign power was reflected in the relationships of the Tsarist administration and communist Moscow, on one side, and the various layers of the indigenous population, on the other side. Based on recently published archival materials, the chapter discusses the “historical division” of Central Asia in 1924, pointing out the importance of the land reform in the 1920s, which intensified inter-ethnic conflicts, on the one hand, and consolidated the new local ruling strata, on the other hand. Soviet local authorities were formed according to kinship ties and territorial identities, and by the 1960s the national Republican cadres were promoted in all political spheres and social institutions.
The chapter considers post-Soviet identities in Central Asia including that of the “titular nation” and greater ethnic (Turkic, for instance) and religious identities. While the search for a common nation-state identity continues, local identities, as many times before, have retained their strength. The current social systems, as a symbiosis of traditional communal and Soviet structures, create a special type of Central Asian clan that manifests itself in kinship, family ties and the territorial principle of redistribution of welfare. Central Asian clan identity by no means corresponds to Western concepts of democracy and civil society that are imposed on the communities from above. Although official declarations of democracy and basic freedoms are made by the governments, there are tendencies to restore some traditional communal institutions, create hypertrophied presidential cults and impose oppressive reins in these countries.
Nation-state building in Central Asia in the Post-Soviet period has been marked by a combination of authoritarianism and the construction of nationhood ideologies. The latter are created by the mythologization of national history and self, and biased toward ethnocentrism and the political exclusion of ethic minorities. This practice has been partly inherited from Soviet national policy, especially its reliance on titular nations as the cornerstone of the Soviet type of federation. In the Soviet past, domestic nationalism was counter-balanced by the dominance of the Communist ideology and promotion of the Soviet supra-national identity. After the dissolution of the USSR, however, the domestic nationalism that was unleashed has been one of the causes of social, cultural and economic dissection of Central Asia.
In Central Asian studies regionalism in Soviet and independent republics with a nomadic background is often identified with the existence of tribalism and the dominance of tribal affiliations in politics. This identification is problematic and based on improper “conceptual stretching” of the term from a non-state organised society to a society which is politically integrated by state structures. This article will elucidate this issue by analysing the changing patterns of statehood and regionalism in Soviet and independent Turkmenistan. It concludes that the Soviet state structures in Turkmenistan were relatively strong, although personal authority relations within the communist party had preserved patrimonial enclaves within the state organisation. The dissolution of the Soviet Union initially led – as in all Central Asian republics – to a re-patrimonialisation of authority relations. In Turkmenistan this process led to an extreme form of neo-patrimonial state organisation due to the personal and arbitrary rule of its ruling president Saparmurat Niyazov.
This chapter assesses the potentials for and constraints upon progressive political change in Uzbekistan. Its first part establishes a point of reference by discussing the recent reinvigoration of elite theory as a result of studies of post-communist transformations in East Central Europe in the 1990s. It begins by distinguishing different approaches to the study of those transformations and how the “transformation” approach differs from the “transition” approach. It discusses the implications of the empirical findings in East Central Europe for the classics of elite theory from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It then systematizes the differences between the “power elite” and “polyarchy” ideal-types, whereupon it establishes a middle ground between them that offers an empirical criterion representing a starting-point for assessing the degree of “de-authoritarization” (as distinct from “democratization”) of an authoritarian regime such as Uzbekistan's. In order to flesh out certain auxiliary concepts necessary for applying the criterion, it gives an example of the application of that criterion to the Khrushchev era in the Soviet Union (1953-64). The Khrushchev example allows an explanation of how the criterion is implemented with the aid of three auxiliary concepts: (bottom-up) “mobilization of the public sphere”, (top-down) “conformance of civil society” and (middle-level) “consolidation of organized officialdom”. With this framework, the rest of the chapter looks at political change in Uzbekistan since 1983, the necessary starting-point for understanding the present situation. Two cycles of political change are evident. The first stretches from 1983 until 1989 and comprises three phases: consolidation, conformance and mobilization. The second cycle stretches from 1989 to the present and comprises phases of mobilization, conformance and consolidation in that order. What these phases represent is specified in terms of what they imply for the structural transformation
Piaget, J. Le structuralisme (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1968). Easton, D. The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science (New York: Knopf, 1953); Easton, A Framework for Political Analysis (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965); Easton, The Analysis of Political Structure (New York: Routledge, 1990). Cutler, R. “Soviet Dissent under Khrushchev: An Analytical Study”, Comparative Politics 13, no.1 (October 1980): 15-35, available at http://www.robertcutler.org/ar80cpx.htm via the INTERNET.
Piaget, J. Le structuralisme (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1968).
Easton, D. The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science (New York: Knopf, 1953); Easton, A Framework for Political Analysis (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965); Easton, The Analysis of Political Structure (New York: Routledge, 1990).
Cutler, R. “Soviet Dissent under Khrushchev: An Analytical Study”, Comparative Politics 13, no.1 (October 1980): 15-35, available at http://www.robertcutler.org/ar80cpx.htm via the INTERNET.
After the 'extensive' growth which the five Central Asian and three Caucasus economies of the USSR had experienced in the 1970s and the first part of the 1980s – that is expanding economic activity by increments to capital and to labour rather than by improving factor productivity (which was in five of the countries negative) – the eight states suffered adversely from the break-up of the Soviet Union. Measured GDP exaggerated that decline because the 'shadow economy', which had been relatively small in the Soviet period, greatly expanded everywhere during the 1990s. Recovery from that recession is examined both through the prism of total factor productivity and the influence of increased openness to trade and to the inflow of foreign investment.
National security depends on a combination of various external and internal economic, social and political factors; however, the main measure of stability is the dynamics of indicators characterizing living standards of the majority of the population. In this chapter we analyze both value indicators (salaries and pensions, household consumption, the volume of retail trade turnover) and so-called “natural” indicators (food, clothes, durables, education and healthcare) for the five Central Asian republics.
In years of economic crisis, the incomes of the majority of former Soviet citizens rapidly declined, along with real wages, purchasing power of pensions and the volume of trade turnover. For the first time after dozens of years of the USSR's existence, under- and unemployment became a threat to millions of people. Nutrition of the main mass of the population worsened and it was particularly the case for such products like meat, milk and eggs. People returned to bread-vegetable-potatoes rationing that had been common in the 1950-60s. There was a negative dynamic in consumption of such durables like TV sets, refrigerators and washing machines in the majority of Central Asian countries. The social systems of recreation and vacation, pre-school education and summer camps for children deteriorated.
Although at the end of the 1990s-beginning of the 2000s the situation slightly improved, even now the level of real wages and purchasing power of pensions, the average retail trade turnover, as well as consumption of food products remain lower than the maximum pre-crisis level.
The positive development was in the preservation of secondary education, despite budget cuts, and the increase in university students in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Soviet system of medical service was also conserved in Central Asia and helped to avoid mass epidemics even in the conditions of rapid decline of living standards of the majority of the population.
Nevertheless, the social-political instability remains and sometimes has even increased in connection with the deep structural changes of the economy. The current transition process from administrative-command to market economy is complicated by the negative tendencies in the political sphere, such as authoritarian tendencies and personality cults of the presidents.
Uzbekistan has adopted a state-led, gradualist path to market reform. This paper outlines its step-by-step approach: liberalization of prices, (incomplete) stabilization, small-scale privatization, corporatization of state-owned enterprises and incipient, mostly “inside” privatization. Legislation has included tax and banking reform, welfare provision through the neighbourhood mahallah system (which also provides control), and protection for foreign investors. Uzbekistan has redirected its trade to world markets, earning better prices for its cotton, gold, and other minerals than it received under the USSR. For several reasons, though, it has received very little foreign direct investment. While trying to expand its international trade and investment, it has nevertheless increased self-sufficiency in food and energy, occasionally also in consumer goods. By expanding its trade and services sectors and maintaining administrative control over exportable agriculture and mining commodities, Uzbekistan has managed about 4% real growth since its mild transition recession ended in 1996. The most important setback on the “Uzbek road” was the period of inconvertibility and multiple exchange rates from 1996-2003, during which manufacturing stagnated. At present Uzbekistan, which has returned to current account convertibility, officially states that it has achieved an overall GDP level, relative to 1991, ahead of all other CIS countries.
Uzbekistan has managed latent conflicts with its neighbours over water allocation, borders and trade without significant use of force since 1992. Its reluctance to enter into workable regional cooperation agreements, however, has prevented the region from developing any meaningful economic, political or military integration beyond a common effort to hold off drug smuggling and terrorism from the south.
The paper analyses external labour migration in the Central Asian republics: of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in comparative perspective and its impact on social stability in the region in the 2000s. The paper consists of three parts: changing migration trends in Central Asia, labour migration profiles by country and social and political effects of labour migration.
Labour migration study includes analysis of causes of migration, estimation of the number of migrants, their social and demographic composition, countries/regions of origin and destination, and main employment spheres. Remittances and their role in improvement of the living standard of migrants' households, social and political effects of labour migration and labour migrants' rights are of a special focus in the paper.
This paper analyses the political and socio-economic situation in the Southern Caucasus. It reflects on the origins of the conflicts in the region, their current status, and their similarities and differences. This paper contends that there is a single universal principle applicable to the solution of these conflicts: the unacceptability of the use of force to effect changes in internationally recognised and documented borders.
The linkages between economics and politics are discussed from both regional and national perspectives. The correlation exists at both levels, although it is not robust because of distortions caused by natural resources. The author questions beliefs that economic cooperation can succeed in relieving the conflicts and expresses his conviction that conflict resolution is a necessary precondition of effective economic cooperation in the region.
The distinguishing feature of the Caucasus states is that their economic objectives are set to achieve political rather than social targets. The states consider their economic development not as a means of improving the well-being of their people, but rather as a key for the solution of their political problems.
The tasks before Georgia concerning internal security and stability are out of its reach. Internal security of Georgia goes through the prism of Russian-Georgian relations. The foreign policy priorities of Tbilisi are actually limited in the framework of South Ossetia and Abkhazia–the region between Georgia and the Russian Federation. The Euro-Atlantic rhetoric being touted by Georgian rulers in their public appearances does not change the existing reality. The main problem of Georgia at this moment is a concrete one–restraining from internal conflicts, which can really cause a direct confrontation between Tbilisi and Moscow.
The dynamics of the events outline the variables as a whole, but not the solutions. The problems which Georgia has to solve in the sphere of internal security and stability are out of its reach. Despite president Saakashvili's statements that Georgia has the possibility to be an international political player, the main problem of Tbilisi at this moment is a specific one–suppressing internal strife, which has the real potential to oppose Tbilisi and Moscow in an open duel.
There are a lot of questions remaining which Georgia's leaders should solve not only in the country, but also in the complex geopolitical situation of the Caspian-Black Sea region. The global realities precondition not as many new priorities as many new methods and approaches, which should lead to positive economic and political dividends for the Caucasian societies within the framework of sub-regional, regional and global organizational structures.
Political solution of the question of democracy in Uzbekistan until recently had been based on the postulate that security had priority over democratization. The current political situation actualizes this question–still now as a precondition of security. In other words, if previously the problem had been put as “security at the expense of democracy”, now it is posed as “security through democracy”.
Uzbekistan, in general, does not deny the absence of democracy in the country and proclaims a domestic political strategy directed toward step-by-step development of democratic culture and institutions. We can call the political system proto-democracy.
By evaluating the situation in this sphere in Uzbekistan one can assert that proto-democracy exists more de-jure than de-facto. For the time being, although almost all necessary democratic laws have been adopted, the implementation of these laws remains a serious problem.
Besides, a number of interrelated conceptual questions about the essence and character of the political system itself still need to be solved. These questions can be classified into the following set of dichotomies: Secular versus Islamic, Islamic versus democratic, Democratic versus autocratic, Security versus democracy, National versus universal, Gradual versus rapid democratization, Liberalism versus paternalism, and Modernization versus traditionalism.
Unless these questions of principle are resolved, the gap between de-jure and de-facto democracy will only persist, and democracy will be, in fact, a showcase democracy.