Russia had agreed previously to send up fresh Soyuz crafts every six months as ISS rescue vessels, and to provide several ISS resupply missions a year; however, the strain of launching more Soyuz crafts than expected (since the shuttle accident) apparently has posed a challenge for Russian officials. In fact, Nikolai Zelenshchikov, deputy director of RKK Energiya, which builds the Soyuz, said on 17 October 03 that a lack of funding from the Federal government has delayed launch of a resupply vessel until early 2004. Fortunately, the ISS is provisioned well enough for Zelenshchikov to have insisted that the crew would not go without vital supplies. NASA spokesman Rob Navias declared likewise, "They won't be up there missing any creature comforts." (WWW.CNN.COM, 17 Oct 03)
In order to alleviate the burden imposed by the shuttle failure and to help expand the ISS capabilities, one of the key tasks of the Expedition 8 crew is the installation of docking equipment on the Russian ISS Zvezda module. The Russian built "Kursk" automated docking system will enable the new ESA-provided ATV cargo supply vessels to dock with the ISS. According to Russian Mission Control Center spokesman Valeri Lyndin, the first ESA vessel should arrive, "in the second half of 2004." (WWW.EN.RIAN.RU, 18 Oct 03)
Each country with a manned space program has developed different levels of connection between its programs and its respective militaries. The Chinese program is entirely military, the American and European programs are almost entirely civil and the Russian program is somewhere in the middle. In the U.S. and Europe, about half of the astronauts are detailed over from the military, whereas all the Chinese taikonauts are active duty fighter pilots and most of the Russian cosmonauts are active duty officers. In the American, European and Russian programs, the astronauts and cosmonauts usually stay in the program and seldom go back to military duty, a trend which can lead to interesting situations. For example, the current I.S.S. Expedition 7 commander, Yuri Malenchenko, had a tailcoat and wedding ring quietly slipped on a cargo ship that arrived at the ISS this June. He planned an August wedding, via videoconference, with Ekaterina Dmitriev, an American citizen who migrated from Russia when she was three years old. Malenchenko however is not a civilian; hes a Russian Air Force Colonel, and under Russian Soviet law, he has access to state secrets and must have permission from his commander to get married. The tension that exists between spacefarers and regular military officials on all continents is plainly evident in the words of the Russian Air Force Chief, Colonel-General Vladimir Mikhailov, when he was told of the plan: "A cosmonaut must not behave like a movie star!" (KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA via www.cnn.com, 23 Jul 03) Despite talk of a potential five or ten year waiting period, Russian officials recovered their senses in time and allowed the happy couple to wed.
To enable appropriate debates over government spending priorities, most democracies are accustomed to explaining, in great detail, all but a sliver of their military budgets to the press, their publics, and especially to their legislatures. But military budget details have always been a state secret in Russia (as in the USSR before that), even from the legislature. In fact, western intelligence agencies have worked diligently, perhaps at the price of lives in a few instances, to determine what Russias military budget was, both to track weapon system acquisition and also to gauge its impact on the overall economy. (Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and how They Won the Cold War, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1996).
Thus, eyebrows were raised when Chief of the General Staff General Anatoli Kvashnin recently asked Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov to authorize the unveiling of portions of select Russian Defense budget details to NATO, given that NATO countries share defense budget data among themselves. To quote Kvashnins request, "Bearing in mind Russia's interest in development of cooperation with NATO, I hereby request your instructions to the federal executive power structures to contemplate the possibility and procedures of sending statistical data on national arms expenditures to the Russia-NATO Council." (MOSKOVSKY KOMSOMOLETS, 22 Sep 03 via What the Papers Say - Defense and Security, 25 Sep 03) What "statistical data" are involved is unkown; R&D data have been classified always.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Dept of Defense or the United States government.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov recently unveiled Russia's new military defense doctrine, titled the "Open Doctrine of Military Modernization." This white paper, which was presented to an expanded session of the Russian military and political leadership, describes a transformation of Russia's military into a force more poised to combat the challenges of the 21st century. President Putin has emphasized a top-down approach to the transformation of Russia's military by his recent budget initiatives and by his public statements. He put the emphasis on achieving an increasingly capable force, stating, "While seeking broad cooperation with foreign states and strengthening the systems of international law, we must not devote less attention to and, even more so, abandon the development of our defense potential. In the final analysis, this potential is the guarantee of Russia's sovereignty and security." (ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA, 04 Oct 03; FBIS-NES-2003-1006 via World News Connection) Most notably, President Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov have been extolling several facets of Russia's new military doctrine to the press during the promotional rhetoric - most critically, issues of pre-emptive strikes and the use of Russian military force within neighboring in support of Russian interests, broadly defined.
Although a detailed analysis awaits the publication of the text of the doctrine, Radio Liberty recently noted (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, vol. 7, 10 Oct 03) that Putin, after the completion of the Russo-German summit, asserted Moscow's right to "carry out pre-emptive military strikes abroad if it deems it necessary to do so." With far-reaching CIS implications, he further claimed that Russia would not relinquish control over the pipeline infrastructure across the territories of the FSU. Russia, as successor state to the Soviet Union, which built the gas pipeline system, is the only state capable of keeping the whole system working. (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, vol. 7, 10 Oct 03). Leaving nothing to chance, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov added to Putin's interpretation of the doctrine on pre-emptive military force. "The CIS is a very crucial sphere for our security. Ten million of our compatriots live there and we are supplying energy to them at prices below international levels. We are not going to renounce the right to use military power there in situations where all other means have been exhausted." (RFE/RL NEWSLINE, vol. 7, 10 Oct 03) The newly-formed air base in Krygyzstan may provide one of the means of implementing such a policy.
With the transition from conscript to contract service ongoing, the new military defense doctrine laid out by Ivanov calls for an increase in the number of permanent readiness troops as "a core priority of modernization." (INTERFAX, 02 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1003 via World News Connection). Like its U.S. counterpart, Ivanov's doctrine states that through its expanded troop base, "Russia must be able successfully to perform its missions in two armed conflicts of any type and conduct peacekeeping operations without carrying out any type of mobilization." (INTERFAX, 02 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1003 via World News Connection). Russia may get an opportunity for a major "peacekeeping operation" should the U.N. Security Council opt for an increased international presence in the post-conflict peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. President Putin clearly is keeping his cards close to the vest until a formal U.N. resolution on an international peacekeeping force is adopted. In an interview with the New York Times, he stated, "concerning a possibility of sending a Russian military contingent to Iraq, we are not even discussing it prior to the adoption of the U.N. resolution." (ITAR-TASS, 06 Oct 03; FBIS-NES-2003-1006 via World News Connection).
As for the controversial use of pre-emptive force in future conflicts, Defense Minister Ivanov stated that "Russia cannot absolutely rule out pre-emptive use of force if it is dictated by its interests or commitments to its allies." He added that "use of force is a measure of last resort which is only to be used when all other means are exhausted." (ITAR-TASS, 02 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1003 via World News Connection) Ivanov's comments on the pre-emptive use of force were met with calls for clarity from NATO. President Putin, in an interview with Al-Jazeera network, attempted to clarify Ivanov's comments by stating that "What he had in mind, and this is my view as well, is this: We are against such a policy, but if other nations continue to make a priority (of pre-emptive strikes) in their foreign policy, then Russia reserves the right to act in the same way." (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 17 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis).
With a current army force structure of nearly 1.6 million soldiers (down from nearly 2.75 million in the early 90's), Russia's military is being forced to transform into a smaller, more agile and more capable force, similar to the U.S. model. (The armed forces at the disposal of other "power ministries" constitute a separate category.) Intrinsic in that transformation will be not only a "re-tooling" of military thought and policy, but investments in modern technologies and architectures to lead and orchestrate the force. Present at the highly-publicized unveiling of the doctrine at the Defense Ministry was President Vladimir Putin who echoed the priorities of transformation and modernization within Russia's military. Putin stressed the armed forces need "quickly and intelligently to master new command and communication systems" (KREMLIN.RU, 03 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1003 via World News Connection) in meeting the dynamic challenges of the global landscape.
By Paul J. Lyons (firstname.lastname@example.org)
New media law considered
At a press conference on 2 October 2003, President Lukashenka revealed his plans for a new media law: "We should fill in the gaps in the existing law. The law should be modern, it should embrace the whole media sphere
It is aimed at reaching quickly and efficiently to any offences in this area. This law should guarantee freedom of speech, but at the same time it should not turn into freedom of slander and provide biased coverage and facts." (BBC MONITORING, 2 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis)
For the first time, the internet will be considered a mass media source. The Ministry of Information and the Prosecutor-General's office stated that the court would have the power to intervene in the distribution of internet-based publications and sue the journalists for spreading false information. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 9 Oct 03) In Belarus, such a development is feasible due to the presence of an internet monopoly: there is only one internet provider, Beltelekom. All alternative providers are obliged to send and receive information only through its server. An ominous precedent of censoring internet publications already exists in Belarus. In 2001, when the presidential elections were taking place, it was impossible to access such internet sites as Radio Liberty, Hartiya-97, Our Freedom or dozens of other online publications. (NOVAYA GAZETA, 9 Oct 03)
Just two prior warnings are required to shut down newspapers and other media channels. A precedent for a transgression that triggered the new law was set by the Belarussian Supreme Court on 9 October, when it ordered the public association Women's Response (not a mass-media source, but a source of information) disbanded for breaching the law, namely: giving the wrong address during the registration in 2000 and using a stamp which was not in conformity with regulations. (MINSK BELAPAN, 09 Oct 03; FBIS-2003-1009 via World News Connection)
Mikhail Pastukhov of the Belarussian Association of Journalists pointed out that the new law would give authorities even more power over the media and would complicate media registration procedures. He also noted that the law required all media outlets to register within one year. Percy Bratt of the Swedish Helsinki Committee of Human Rights likewise has concerns about the clause, which prohibits the media from disseminating information on behalf of unregistered organizations, thus substantially restricting their freedom of expression. (MINSK BELAPAN, 07 Oct 03; FBIS-2003-1007 via World News Connection)
Unsurprisingly, the new media law was written without public input. Valeri Levkov, a journalist for Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta, said that the draft media law "was certainly not discussed with the journalists of Belarus. Maybe it was discussed with Pavel Jakubovich, the editor in chief of Sovetskaya Belarussiya, which is an official newspaper of the presidential administration." (RFE/RL, 10 Oct 03) Levkov also pointed out that the draft media law was supposed to be sent to European institutions for evaluation.
The new media law is yet another in a long line of attempts to restrict freedom of speech in Belarus. In the last two years, approximately twenty independent political newspapers have folded in Belarus, either due to direct interference by the authorities or to the discriminatory economic measures of the state. (WWW.INDEXONLINE.ORG, 22 Sep 03) The Belarussian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has been awarded the 2003 Golden Pen of Freedom award for its courageous resistance to the repression of the media by President Lukashenka. "The BAJ is fighting bravely against what is probably the most repressive regime in Europe," said the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers, when presenting the award. (WWW.INDEXONLINE.ORG, 27 Oct 02)
Public opinion polls in Belarus
According to a public poll conducted by the Independent Institute for Socioeconomic and Political Research (IISPR) in Belarus, 48.8% of Belarussians are dissatisfied with government policy. Over 1,500 people participated in the Institute's poll, which also indicated that 70% of Belarussians were planning to vote in the 2004 parliamentary elections, 42.4% did not believe that the election would be free, while 38.5% expressed the opposite opinion. The Belarussian Women's Party was the most popular among respondents (7.5%), followed by the Party of Communists of Belarus (5.2%). (MINSK BELAPAN, 13 Oct 03; FBIS-2003-1013 via World News Connection)
Ukraine-E.U. Yalta Summit
The most recent summit between the 15 member European Union and Ukraine took place on 7 October 2003 in Yalta. At the end of the summit the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, along with the former Italian Prime Minister and current E.U. President Silvio Berlusconi both expressed hope that Ukraine could join the E.U. in the future. No date for Ukraine's accession to the E.U. was set at the summit, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma stated that the country would not be ready to begin accession negotiations until 2011.
The members of the E.U. delegation made a statement following the E.U.-Ukraine summit, in which they recognized Ukraine's economic achievements and the stability of the national currency. The issue of compensation to Ukraine as a result of the economic impact of E.U. enlargement was raised at the summit as well. Ukraine is seeking an estimated $580 million for the loss of trade. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESS, 14 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis) In 2004, Ukrainian trade with the new E.U. members is predicted to drop by 10%, thus, substantially complicating the achievement of its market economy status, which is one of the Copenhagen criteria for joining the Union.
Recent visa restrictions on Ukrainian citizens trying to enter new E.U. member states erects both a physical and an emotional barrier between the E.U. and Ukraine, limiting Ukrainian citizens' opportunities to visit their relatives in the new E.U. member states.
Does Ukraine have a real chance to join the E.U. some day? Maybe, but the prospects seem bleak. Before even proceeding to the discussion of Ukraine's ability to survive economically in the E.U., Ukraine has to improve its human rights record, assure freedom of speech to its citizens (difficult with the high-profile murder of a journalist still unresolved) and fix its chronically-slanted elections. The recent signing of the Single Economic Space Agreement with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan also has not helped to give the E.U. assurance that Ukraine is seriously intending to join the Union. But even if Ukraine miraculously does fulfill all the conditions, is it a safe assumption that a 27 member E.U. (the current membership target) will still be prepared to accept it?
Seeing assistance from the Council of Europe
Moldova has applied to the Council of Europe for assistance in resolving disputes between Moldova and Romania. This move came as a result of Romania's refusal to sign a treaty confirming Moldova's present borders. (DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 13 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis) The exact words of the Moldovan Foreign Ministry were: "these problems and absence of progress in their resolution pose a threat for the existence of the Moldovan state, destabilize the situation in the country, considerably retard the process of final settlement of the Dniester conflict and affect negatively the process of European integration of the republic." (ITAR-TASS, 13 Oct 03; FBIS-2003-1013 via World News Connection)
Ghiorghi Prisacaru, the head of the Romanian Parliamentary delegation, criticized Moldova's statement, saying that Moldova's position was regrettable because it constituted an attempt to transform a bilateral issue into a multilateral one. Prisacaru noted also that Romania's position on the issue was clear Romania recognizes Moldova's independence and sovereignty.
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin stated in a television interview on Sunday that: "The Romanian thesis of two Romanian states is unacceptable. We have our own country. We are ready for cooperation, but without interference in our internal affairs." (DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR, 13 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis)
In 1940, as a result of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Romania lost Bessarabia, Northern Bukovona and Hertza to the USSR. When the pact was signed, the territories between Prut and Dniestr belonged to Romania. Since the recognition of the Republic of Moldova as an independent state a lot has been said in Romania about the necessity of eliminating the consequences of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. In June 1991, Romania's Parliament adopted a declaration in which the pact was declared null and void. (STUDINT.ONG.RO, 30 Oct 94) Romania, which was the first state to recognize the Republic of Moldova upon the proclamation of its independence, has never signed an agreement with Moldova defining the two countries' frontiers.
By Elena Selyuk (email@example.com)
The October 15 Azerbaijani presidential election, which, as expected, brought Ilham Aliev to power, signified a continuation of former President Heidar Alievs foreign and economic policies. However, significant opposition unrest both to the election process and the choice of Aliev, indicates that the authoritarian regime created and repressively enforced by Heidar Aliev is no longer viable in the increasingly open Azeri political scene.
Opposition unrest began on the evening of October 15, with accusations by the Musavat Party of massive ballot fraud in favor of Ilham Aliev. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 16 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis) Protests continued into the following day and culminated in two open clashes between supporters of Isa Gambar, of the Musavat party, and police in Baku. The first scuffle arose with riots by several thousand Gambar supporters (WHAT THE PAPERS SAY, 16 Oct 03 via ISI Emerging Databases) in which, according to statements by the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, two persons were killed. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 16 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis). The second, by most accounts, resulted from police aggression and left over 50 civilians badly injured. (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 17 Oct 03 via ISI Emerging Databases)
In the aftermath of the elections and resulting violence, there has been a marked polarity in statements by various government officials and by observers as to quality of government demonstrated by the election process and violence. According to Giovanni Kessler, head of delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and Human Rights Watch (WWW.HRW.ORG/backgrounder/eca/azerbaijan/index.htm) the election was undemocratic and the violence resulted from the lack of governmental control over the police. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 16 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis; Financial Times, 17 Oct 03; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis) On the other hand, the Turkish, Russian and Iranian governments openly congratulated Ilham Aliev on his victory. (FINANCIAL TIMES, 17 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis; ITAR TASS, 16 Oct 03; What the Papers Say via ISI Emerging Databases; FINANCIAL TIMES, 18 Oct 03; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis). The U.S. government has been silent so far, thus attempting to distance itself from the undemocratic means used to solidify Ilham Alievs ascendancy to power while at least tacitly acknowledging Alievs presidency.
The reactions of the Turkish, Iranian, Russian and U.S. governments are not particularly surprising given their stakes in the international and multi-national corporate competition for Azerbaijans vast natural gas and oil reserves. At present, Azerbaijan's has 1.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, as well as vast potential reserves in undeveloped offshore Caspian fields. (GEO.YA.COM/travelimages/az-oil.html) The major oil companies invested in these oil fields and the various export pipelines include British Petroleum, Chevron Texaco, ConocoPhilips and the EU, through the TRACECA program to rehabilitate and upgrade the Caspian seaport near Baku. The proven natural gas reserves stand roughly at 4.4 trillion cubic feet, in which several multi-national corporations, including Exxon Mobil, are also invested. (Ibid.)
The Iranian government is still anxious to renew talks over a proposal to transport oil from Baku via a proposed 300km pipeline to Tabriz in northwest Iran, where it would also connect with the existing Iranian pipeline network and refineries. (Ibid) On the other end of the spectrum, Washington has noted the tense relations between Baku and Teheran over disputed oil fields in the Caspian and might be inclined to support Azerbaijan militarily as a counterpoise for Iran. Additionally, the U.S. is keen to seal the alliance of Azerbaijan with Georgia and Turkey with the help of the $2.9-billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and a parallel gas pipeline to the northern Turkish city of Erzurum. (BBC Monitoring, 15 Oct 03 via Lexis-Nexis)
The fruition of these investments depends on Ilham Alievs ability to maintain control over the country. Indeed, doubts persist whether President Aliev can count on the unanimous support of the ruling elite. A number of Azeri government officials depend on patronage from the Aliev regime for their privileged positions (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 13 Oct 03 via ISI Emerging Databases), constituting the main reason for Ilham Alievs current support within the state structure and among the Yeni Azerbaijan party. However, it is unclear whether Ilham possesses the authority, or the support within the government apparatus, to maintain his fathers balancing act of allowing limited political freedom while committing human rights abuses which keep Azerbaijan on the hook of international criticism. Therefore, until Ilham Aliev defines a political course (one which, most believe, will eschew balance in favor of a stark choice between authoritarianism or democratization) the loyalty of the ruling class can be purchased by the highest bidder.
The new Russian military doctrine which specifically endorses Russian preventative military strikes constitutes a clear statement of warning for any CIS country attempting to free itself of economic and political dependence from Russia, e.g. Georgia. Indeed, although the doctrine originated, supposedly, as a result of the perceived need for action, inter alia, against "terrorist factions" (ITAR-TASS, 12 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1012 via World News Connection), in reality this document contains a barely veiled Russian message to Georgia that, one way or another, Moscow plans to regain the power it lost after the fall of the USSR. Indeed, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanovs statement concerning the permissibility of Russian resort to force was countered by Georgian President Shevardnadzes censure of Russias doctrine and his statement that preventive strikes were incompatible with international law. (GEORGIAN TV, Oct 10 03 FBIS-SOV-2003-1010 via World News Connection)
On the other hand, Georgia has shown signs of weakening lately. Under U.N. auspices, a Georgian-Abkhaz meeting opened on 8 October with the participation of the Abkhaz "Foreign Minister" Sergei Shamba and the Georgian Minister for Special Assignments, Malkhaz Kakbadze, with the objective of reducing tensions between Georgia and Abkhazia. (ITAR-TASS, 8 Oct 03; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis) The fact that a member of the Georgian government agreed to meet a high Abkhaz official may be viewed as a tacit acknowledgement of Abkhazian independence. In addition, the Georgian government and Abkhaz officials have agreed on the creation of a joint venture to fight crime (KAVKASIA-PRESS, 9 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1009 via World News Connection) creating another indicator that Georgian-recognized Abkhazian independence may become a reality.
At the same time, Russian and Georgian economic ties have deepened with the hosting of a two day economic forum in Tbilisi, (SARKE-PRESS DIGEST, 19 Oct 03; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis) which is slated to discuss joint Russian-Georgian projects worth an estimated $10 billion in areas such as internal development of roads, links, and railways in Georgia. (ITAR-TASS , 16 Oct 03 FBIS-SOV-2003-1016 via World News Connection) In response to these talks and the obvious development of Georgian-Russian ties, Georgian President Shevardnadze stated that "Taking shelter with Russia is better than being in the cold and dark" a clear indication of Shevardnadzes dependence on Russian sources of energy. (MTAVARI GAZETI, 19 Oct 03 FBIS-SOV-2003-1019 via World News Connection; See also recent editions of NIS Observed)
Indeed, neither the West nor its institutions have given him much of an alternative with the indefinite postponement of scheduled IMF talks, which were to discuss a three-year strategy to aid Georgia, including the rescheduling of its debts to Paris Club members, (KAVKASIA PRESS, 11 Oct 03 FBIS-SOV-2003-1012 via World News Connection) while continued Western pressure over the upcoming Georgian parliamentary elections has distracted President Shevardnadze. A stream of Western dignitaries has recently traipsed through Georgia, including Senator John McCain, General John Shalikashvili, Strobe Talbott, and James Baker, as well as representatives of the Council of Europe, and of the National Democratic Institute for Foreign Affairs (NDI) (WWW.EURASIANNET.ORG/departments/insight/articles/pp101903.shtml). These visitors have been quick to criticize, as in May, when the Council of Europe warned Georgia that it might be put on its black list due to Tbilisis inability to curb corruption. In an increasingly tense environment, Georgia fears that the U.S. may criticize the parliamentary elections and further reduce foreign aid. However, an additional cut in foreign assistance, juxtaposed with European and American criticism of Georgia's government would push the country further into the Russian sphere, a development that President Shevardnadze, President Bush, nor the E.U. want to encourage.
By Ariela Shapiro (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trade and the persistent issue of borders
It can be argued that the existing border disputes of Central Asia have roots in the incongruity between the historical khanate boundaries and the boundaries created by the 1920s Soviet delimitation project. Controversy over the post-independence borders periodically presents itself as a challenge for diplomacy and many of the regional trade negotiations are negotiations in fact concerning state sovereignty and external influence. As the European Union, Russia, and the United States all vie for economic and security-related influence, the national borders of Central Asia become increasingly reified and the awkwardness of the ethno-linguistic boundaries of Soviet construction requires negotiation within an internationally accepted state system.
Much of the renewed international interest in Central Asia relates to the "fight against terrorism." To this end, the U.S. and allied forces have established military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and Russian troops have increased their presence in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. October 23 is the date scheduled for the opening ceremony of the Russian airbase in Kant, Kyrgyzstan, which contractually will be operable for 15 years with the possibility of extending the agreement for five year terms and will host over 500 personnel and 20 aircraft, including the Su-25, Su-27 low-flying attack planes, and An-26 planes as well as Mi-8 helicopters. Four MiG-29 fighters arrived at the base on 15 October, where they joined two Su-25s and four L-39s already present. (ITAR-TASS, 0718 GMT, 14 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1014; 0736 GMT, 15 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1015 via World News Connection)
According to Maxim Peshkov, Russian Ambassador to Tajikistan, Russia is in the process of negotiating an agreement with Tajikistan transforming the Russian 201st motorized infantry division "into a Russian military base" that would have responsibilities under the Collective Security Treaty Organization and continued responsibility for guarding the Tajik-Afghan border. (ITAR-TASS, 1531 GMT, 10 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1010; 1339 GMT, 14 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1014 via World News Connection) The proposed transformation of the Russian 201st comes after the September announcement by Nuralisho Nazarov, a senior Tajik official, that Tajikistan no longer required the presence of Russian border troops.
Russian troops along the Tajik-Afghan border routinely report the exchange of artillery fire and the confiscation of drugs being smuggled across the border, including a recent cache of 929 kg of opium, 111 kg of heroin and 19 kg of marijuana. (ITAR-TASS, 0816 GMT, 8 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1008; 0648 GMT, 6 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1006; FBIS-SOV-2003-1006 via World News Connection) Tajik border troops have a less impressive reputation of stopping drug traffickers and Nazarovs comment was most likely a statement made to express Tajik dissatisfaction with Russias recent crackdown on Tajik migrant labor and Tajikistans exclusion from the core of the CIS Unified Economic Space established at the September summit in Yalta.(WWW.EURASIANET.ORG, 22 Sep 03)
Relations between Russia and Tajikistan have been more strained since the U.S. dramatically increased its presence in Tajikistan, after 11 September 2001. And the connection between Nazarovs comment and economics may seem a stretch until one considers both the stabilizing presence of Russian troops in Tajikistan and the impact of Russias restriction of migrant workers has on the Tajik economy. Remittances from Tajiks working abroad totaled close to $250 million in 2002, an amount that parallels the countrys annual budget; most of those workers go to Russia. According to a commentary in the Tajik newspaper Asia-Plus: "Putin has given the green light to about half a million Kyrgyz labor migrants in exchange for a military base [Kant] and the deployment of 500 servicemen in Kyrgyzstan." (WWW.EURASIANET.ORG, 7 Oct 03)
By implying a relationship between preferential treatment for Kyrgyz migrant laborers over Tajiks wishing to work in Russia, and security via the military base, a legitimate observation is made about the complexity of relations within the region. The Kazakh newspaper Ekspress-K recently carried an article entitled "Good protection for big oil," wherein it reported the U.S. Department of Defense would financially support the construction of a military base in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. (EKSPRESS-K, 0001 GMT, 7 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1007 via World News Connection) As this would be the first such base in the Caspian region, the Kazakh press was making a connection between U.S. interests in the oil rich region and military support aimed at protecting American investments abroad.
As Russia and the U.S. vie for influence through support of various defense initiatives, interdependent trade relations are seen as an equally important aspect of regional security. The European Union will continue the implementation of its Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Kyrgyzstan, a project aimed at improving cultural, economic, legal, political, scientific, and social cooperation. The E.U. plans to develop more PCA projects with both Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. (TIMES OF CENTRAL ASIA, 26 Sep 03 via www.times.kg) Tajikistan is actively taking steps to expand trade with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, in hopes of gaining greater stability and influence along borders. (ITAR-TASS, 0821 GMT, 11 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1011 via World News Connection) Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed interest in deepening ties with Uzbekistan along areas of mutual interest and Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister and Economics Minister, Rustam Azimov, described Russia as Uzbekistans "main trade partner." (ITAR-TASS, 1132 GMT, 13 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1013; 1326 GMT, 10 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1010 via World News Connection)
The recent development of the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) project, the shortest ground route for transporting goods from Europe to Asia, is aimed at creating stability by fostering a mutually beneficial route for trade and tourism. This "New Silk Road," as it is unofficially called, is being developed out of an E.U. initiative aimed at bringing Europe and Central Asia closer together. (TIMES OF CENTRAL ASIA, 10 Oct 03 via www.times.kg) But there are hurdles ahead for developing relations with Central Asia.
It has been only since 15 October that Uzbekistans national currency (the Uzbek Sum) has been convertible on the world monetary market without restrictions. (ITAR-TASS, 2028 GMT, 15 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1015 via World News Connection) While this makes it the last of the former Soviet countries to remove currency restrictions and thereby remove one obstacle to foreign investment, a recent survey of 133 countries by the London-based NGO Transparency International placed Tajikistan as 124th on its Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), ranking it among the most corrupt countries in the world. On the whole, Central Asia ranked very high regarding corruption, with Kyrgyzstan ranking 118th on the CPI whereas Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were 100th on the list. Turkmenistan was not included in the index, but certainly it would not have fared well and would fit in the rankings of its Central Asian neighbors. (TIMES OF CENTRAL ASIA, 16 Oct 03 via www.times.kg)
Given the levels of corruption and the continued disagreement over delineated borders (KABAR, 0927 GMT, 7 Oct 03; FBIS-SOV-2003-1007 via World News Connection), it bodes well for the countries of Central Asia that issues of defense and influence can be combined with trade.
By David W. Montgomery (email@example.com)