Central Asian patience
text: Akram Asrorov , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
Chapter II Today we could notice clear errors of Western politics towards Central Asia. Unsuccessful visit of Poland President Leh Kachinsky to Kazakhstan when he did not succeed in main tasks solution: provide Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev participation in energy summit in Poland; get Astana confirmation in Odessa - Brody project development.
And what is the most important, Polish oil processing company "Orlen" still did not get access to Kazakhstani oil fields.
We may presume that Kachinsky went to Astana to become a witness of agreement signature between "KazMunaiGas" and "Orlen" about Polish company Kazakh market of energy resources penetration. In fact Poland president signed documents which could be signed by Polish Foreign Affairs Minister.
Comparing to this useless for Europe visit, visit of Russian president Putin to Astana seemed to be very efficient. Three countries' presidents including Turkmenistan signed documents on trans-Caspian gas pipeline which is able at lucky for Moscow concatenation of circumstances make projects through the bottom of Caspian Sea be non-actual.
But these are small details of big Central Asian game caused by power centers.
The EU can not regulate relations with Uzbekistan against whom there are sanctions, and the EU - Central Asia relations format could not be called effective. On the one side, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are for trans-Caspian pipelines, underlining that they are important for diversification of energy resources supply for Europe, from the other side, Astana and Ashgabat are not going to invest money in projects giving first choice right to Europe. You attract investors, think and calculate logistics, and we will think whether this transportation corridor is profitable for us.
EU sly move
By hook or by crook. The EU in its new strategy apart from multilateral meetings in the frames of the EU - Central Asia foresees bilateral format of negotiations.
The EU special rep on Central Asia Pierre Morel presenting new EU strategy for Central Asia defined basic priorities for the document. "Its as the first security in the region including fight against drugs and weapon trade, ec onomic reforms, energy and ecologic projects, legal strengthening and human rights together with education, - he underlined. - The strategy foresees cooperation of the EU with Central Asia as on regional and bilateral levels. For instance, drug trafficking fight questions should be solved by all regional countries efforts, education and human rights projects could be realized on bilateral basis".
Of course, bilateral format of negotiations is not something new.
However if get accustomed to it, you can see in it a note addressed to official Tashkent to turn back to human rights fulfillment in not yet clear bilateral format. Its true that dialogue with Uzbekistan was anyway held, and on one of such meetings parties even agreed to organize expert meeting and passing by Uzbeki side documents on Andijan events to European specialists. However, according to results on May summit of the EU Foreign Ministers when sanctions were prolonged the consensus was not still found.
A lot more strange seems the EU position on real economic assistance to Central Asia. USD 750 millions for 2007-2013 is a sum, by the highest standards, symbolic. According to Morel, the funding is not much for 5 Central Asian states... "We have to admit that we still did not do much in Central Asia, - he declared. - But in the future we do twice more then we have done during last years". Unsuccessful experience of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the US taught Central Asian leaders not to believe in words of European officials, but to real investments in economics of the region.
Interested position of Astana in cooperation with the EU question is understandable. Kazakhstan received and receives the biggest part on of European investments for Central Asia. In Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan where investment climate is less attractive everybody hopes for outer investments but do not want for too much preferences from the EU.
At this it is necessary to divide countries where Europeans are ready to invest and countries where are not ready. First 2 countries are highly attractive because of resources, and if there is difficult situation with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan gets funding only after Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov makes Turkmen economics more open. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan can not count on huge investments by now.
Breakthrough in cooperation question with Central Asia was tried to be done by Germany which held the presidency in the EU until July 2007. we can not say that the only one Berlin motivation to initiate new strategy development for Central Asia was the military base in Uzbeki Termez. Even before the power shifted to Angela Merkel Germany started to hold policy of less dependence from Europe in Russian energy question. Germany is aware that Russia growing influence for energy market of Europe does not correspond with the Old World interests. Berlin also understands that Moscow dominance in energy supply questions from Central Asia lead to situation when Moscow influence in Central Asia can prevail. At this Central Asian states will not be independent anymore in energy transportation diversification question which by the end is not good for Europe. The worst scenario for Europe will have cooperation line of Russia - Central Asia which seemed to have clear structure of gas OPEC or energy club in the frames of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). If such happens it will be impossible to fight Moscow monopoly on Europe energy market.
Frankly speaking, necessity of energy security in Europe is understood differently. That is why the EU position seems to be not designated, because single strategy development is influenced by disagreements inside the EU structure. Poland together with Baltic States holds its own policy in questions of energy resources attraction from Central Asia. In the case of oil processing plant "Mazheikyai Nafta" which is owned by Polish "Orlen", Poland tries independently make Kazkahstan be agreed to transfer oil through Odessa - Brody oil route. Through GUAM it is hard to do, because Azerbaijan does not have by now high temps of oil extraction growth as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Recent visit of Polish president to Astana confirmed that the EU does not have single approaches in their energy security. That is why the every EU country or group of countries tries independently to find the solution for this big task.
Germany acted very intense in a period of its EU presidency. Thus, for instance, Germany Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeyer during the Troika meeting (Germany, Portugal and the EU reps) with Central Asian states foreign ministers was for activization of a dialogue on questions of European Union countries supply with energy resources from Central Asia. "We need to strengthen energy dialogue to talk over new transboundary corridors through Black Sea region to Europe", - he said.
On the question of adopted by the EU new strategy Germany Foreign Affairs Minister said following: "This strategy development is already a success of the EU and Central Asia because we have for the first time outspoken political frames which define common goals. From the other hand, we defined concrete spheres for more intense further cooperation".
In this connection we have a question: how much Central Asian countries are satisfied by the level of cooperation which the EU offers? Let us remind that investment flows excluding Kazakhstan to other regional countries are not going very actively. Trans-Caspian projects of gas and oil pipelines do not still have real contours, and by now nobody can guarantee that its negotiations' stage could bring it to the level of practical realization.
Central Asian countries want from the EU investments, real projects on energy supply diversification and initiatives support directed to regional integration. Once the EU is stucked in long negotiations and strategies presentations where there are no concrete end goals, Europe's place could be taken by Russia and China.
To all appearances, they have already done it.
Collage by Gazeta.kz
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09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan