28 May 2008

Engaging Central Asia

The European Union's New Strategy in the Heart of Eurasia

Neil J. Melvin

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In July 2007, the European Union initiated a fundamentally new approach to the countries of Central Asia. The launch of the EU Strategy for Central Asia signals a qualitative shift in the Union’s relations with a region of the world that is of growing importance as a supplier of energy, is geographically situated in a politically sensitive area – between China, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and the south Caucasus – and contains some of the most authoritarian political regimes in the world. In this volume, leading specialists from Europe, the United States and Central Asia explore the key challenges facing the European Union as it seeks to balance its policies between enhancing the Union’s energy, business and security interests in the region while strengthening social justice, democratisation efforts and the protection of human rights. With chapters devoted to the Union’s bilateral relations with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan and to the vital issues of security and democratisation, ‘Engaging Central Asia’ provides the first comprehensive analysis of the EU’s strategic initiative in a part of the world that is fast emerging as one of the key regions of the 21st century.