Roads, Pipes and Rivers: Different Faces of Eurasian Central Asia

The Moscow-promoted Eurasian Union and Washington-promoted New Silk Road are two examples of visions of regional integration that assume the participation of post-Soviet Central Asian states. The former suggests the creation of a new supranational body in the CIS area, taking advantage of the legacy of the common Soviet infrastructure. The latter envisions restoration of the web of economic and transit routes that once connected Central Asia and South Asia, stretching from Astana to Mumbai. While the end goals of both concepts are laudable, a big question from Central Asia is whether these projects will help cooperation within the region. This article provides an overview of both concepts in the context of developments in Central Asia and concludes that there is little evidence that these grand projects will contribute to intra-regional cooperation in Central Asia, and in fact, there are clear risks to current cooperation.

Authors: Shairbek Juraev