EUCAM Working Paper - No. 20

A new EU-Central Asia Strategy: Deepening relationships and generating long-lasting impact

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Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) has become an active actor in Central Asia. It has expanded its diplomatic presence, established co-operation mechanisms and increased its development cooperation. However, so far, the EU’s impact in terms of improving the security situation or helping to build democratic societies that respect human rights has been limited. It is now time to put the EU’s political and development cooperation infrastructure to good use to deepen relations and start generating long-lasting impact in Central Asia.

In June 2017, the European Council agreed to renew the 2007 EU Strategy for Central Asia by the first half of 2019. As the European External Action Service (EEAS) drafts a new strategy, the Europe-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) initiative wishes to contribute by providing insights and recommendations. Rather than looking back and reviewing the current strategy and its implementation, EUCAM has looked ahead and hereby presents some ideas on what an ideal new strategy should look like in terms of content and format.

Regarding content, ideally, a new document would:

  • Be a real strategy that outlines long-term interests and objectives, and is closely linked to operational EU planning.
  • Take democracy and security co-operation as a basis for engagement.

In terms of format, a new document should consist of:

  • A first part outlining political and security relations, where bilateral agreements and Human Rights Dialogues mix with multilateral aspects such as the High-Level Security Dialogues.
  • A second bilateral part outlining two priorities for each country that will serve as the main areas of cooperation: modern society and inclusive education programmes.
  • A third regional part outlining two new broad programmes that Central Asian countries could participate in different extents: renewable energy and connectivity.

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Before joining the Centre for European Security Studies in 2016, Boonstra worked as senior researcher, and later as head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia programme at FRIDE, a think tank with offices in Madrid and Brussels. He completed MAs in Contemporary History and International Relations at the University of Groningen. His work focuses on Eurasian and transatlantic security issues (in particular EU, NATO and OSCE policies) as well as on development policies and democratisation in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Boonstra is member of several internal research networks and regularly comments on international issues in the media.
Associate Director and Research Professor at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University. Co-director of PONARS (Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia). Director of the Central Asia Program at IERES.
Andreas Marazis is Project Manager and Researcher specializing on the Eastern Partnership countries and Central Asia at the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), a Brussels-based think tank. His research is focused at the post-Soviet space, particularly on socio-political developments in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. Before joining ENC, Andreas worked as a Junior Researcher and EUCAM Programme Officer, at FRIDE in Madrid and Brussels. He also worked as a Project Manager for Eurasian Dialogue in Brussels. Andreas holds a MLitt in Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asian Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland, UK) and an MA in Black Sea Cultural Studies from the International Hellenic University (Thessaloniki, Greece).
Tinatin Tsertsvadze joined IPHR’s Brussels team in January 2015 as International Advocacy Manager. She maintains regular contacts with EU institutions, monitors EU policies towards Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries and coordinates advocacy actions targeting EU and other international institutions. Before joining IPHR, she worked for four years at FRIDE, a European think-tank based in Brussels and Madrid, as Central Asia programme manager and conducted research and advocacy on EU policies towards Central Asia and the South Caucasus. She authored several publications on the EU’s human rights and democracy policies in these regions. Prior to that Tinatin briefly worked at the Open Society Institute in Brussels, and for the European Socialist Party, assisting in the 2009 European Parliament Election campaign. She was involved in the pan-European youth network AEGEE, and served one year as its Brussels director for European Institutions. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (specializing in European Studies) from the Georgian University (Georgia).