More than three months have passed since the beginning of 2007, and the energy resources of Central Asia have already become the main area of interest in the region, and moreover, the problems of energy have begun to replace security problems.
US Ambassador John Ordway was very concerned about security in Kazakhstan, for which he managed to meet with Kazakh Defense Minister Danial Akhmetov at the end of January. Security in Kazakhstan? No, the safety of Kazakhstan hydrocarbons. This topic was discussed by the parties.
No sooner had a month to go, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher arrived to consolidate the success. The main purpose of the visit was - again, discussion of the future prospects of Kazakhstan-US cooperation in the energy sector.
Also at the beginning of this year, the Special Representative of the NATO Secretary General for Central Asia and the Caucasus, Robert Simmons, visited Kazakhstan. During the visit, the implementation of an individual partnership plan between Kazakhstan and NATO was discussed, according to which, the alliance provides for the organization of measures for the training and retraining of Kazakhstani military personnel, assistance in reforming the defense system and the creation of naval forces in the Caspian Sea.
As can be seen even in the defense sphere, the safety of Caspian energy resources is being erected in the first place. The EU as a purely European structure also does not lag behind the United States. And if individual countries are not able to pursue a comparative policy with the United States, then in the EU there is an opportunity to operate on behalf of institutional education and conduct national policy. As ITAR-TASS reported in early February, the EU intends to open four diplomatic missions in four Central Asian countries (except Turkmenistan, given Turkmen gas, this is at least strange). According to a special document that was submitted in February to the EU member states by Germany, which holds the EU presidency, the EU’s goal is to establish special relations with the Central Asian states, primarily in the energy field. Germany also offers concrete projects, in particular, the construction of a new gas pipeline from Central Asia along the bottom of the Caspian Sea to Europe. After that, maybe you should think about the hegemonic claims of Germany for energy leadership in Europe?
Russia is not only not lagging behind, but even surpasses American energy activity. Kazakhstan and Russia have always had consistently good relations, moreover, on March 16, the answer to American policy was put to Russia by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin on a visit to Kazakhstan. The subject of the meeting again was the energy sphere. On March 15, an agreement was signed between Russia, Bulgaria and Greece on the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, and in this connection, the parties considered the possibility of increasing the design capacity of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium.
The success of the Russian policy can be considered the speedy working visit of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Moscow and the return visit of the Chief Energy Negotiator in Central Asia, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. The Russian-Kazakh relations, particularly in the energy field, and the Forum of Business Circles of Kazakhstan and Russia, which will be held this year, will consolidate.
Another focus of attention on energy diplomacy and Central Asian struggle has become Turkmenistan. In February, the same Fradkov visited Turkmenistan. The new president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, confirmed the obligations under the 2003 agreement on the wholesale sale of Turkmen gas to Gazprom, according to which the Russian gas monopolist buys it from Ashgabat for $ 100 per thousand cubic meters, and for European consumers it sells for $ 230. What caused some damage to Chinese interests, who hoped to sign an agreement on gas supplies with Turkmenbashi. But the father of all Turkmen did not have time to do it.
The United States went the other way. Without claiming to Turkmen gas, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Stephen R. Mann was sent to Ashgabat following Fradkov’s unabridged tracks. During this visit, the United States expressed readiness to assist Turkmenistan in the development of the fuel and energy sector.
The revitalization of the US policy is obvious, as well as the loss of China, which relies on the SCO. For some reason, not remembering that the SCO is a summit. And meetings once a year are hardly conducive to lobbying the necessary policies. Moreover, Turkmenistan is not a member of the SCO. Losing, but wanting to recall the significance of the SCO, China declared its weighty “no” to conduct joint military exercises of the SCO and the CSTO. Motivating this by the fact that the SCO is a political and economic bloc, and not a military one.
While the great states were solving their energy problems, the countries of Central Asia continue to confront the threats of militants and drug trafficking. Another drug dealer was detained in Osh, the Drug Control Agency in Bishkek cut short one of the opium supply channels to Russia. Tajik and Afghan security officials in Afghanistan have eliminated 7 drug laboratories. Chinese border guards neutralized a group of terrorists from the Islamic Movement of Turkestan. The regular seizures of Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets and brochures began, and the detention of members of this organization.
Only international organizations were able to draw attention to the actual Central Asian problems. EU Special Representative for Central Asia Pierre Morel and Deputy Secretary General of the CSTO Valery Semerikov discussed plans for combating terrorism and drug trafficking in January. And in February, the CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha met with the director of the OSCE Conflict Prevention Center, Herbert Salber, who also noted the importance of countering Afghan drugs and stability on the Afghan-Tajik border.
Another international structure, namely the European Commission, in turn, visited the Drug Control Agency of Tajikistan to verify the implementation of special programs to combat drug trafficking. Russia at the same time opened a representative office of the Federal Service for the Control of Drugs in Tajikistan, and the French and Americans declare that the military bases will be located in Central Asia until the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan disappears.
Nothing special or strange, but really significant.
The leading powers of the world are not particularly concerned about terrorism and drug trafficking in Central Asia. As you can see, the main interest of the great powers is concentrated in the field of energy. Terrorism and drug trafficking are left to the countries of Central Asia and international organizations. Perhaps that is why so many international organizations are born and operate in the region.
Weak interest on the part of Russia, China and the United States to security issues should be caused by the improvement of the situation in the region, but the year 2006 indicates an increase in violence and drug production in Afghanistan. The risk of projecting the situation in Afghanistan to Central Asia is increasing, but in the first months of 2007, apart from the FBI Director John Negraponte, this does not bother anyone, because terrorism, drugs and state stability are not complementary things, but independent threats to security, not affecting energy stability.