Integration processes on Eurasian territory. Ryabinin Yevgeny

Ryabinin Yevgeny

PhD (Political Science)

associate professor of the International Relations 

and Foreign Affairs Chair

Of Mariupol State University 


Integration processes on Eurasian territory



Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was formed in 2001 in the course of the summit of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan leaders in Shanghai and this summit became a significant step towards a full-scale and overall cooperation that is aimed at providing safety and stability in the region.  Besides above-mentioned member states, there are also Observer states (India, Iran, Pakistan, Mongolia) and Dialogue partners (Sri Lanka, Belarus). As we could judge by the list of states we can understand that it is a contradictive one because some of the countries have unsolved problems between each other. This is the main obstacle on the way of transforming organization into really solidary union that is able to become a real influence pole on the political map of the world. Eurasian territory nowadays is too  separated that is why it is too weak and can’t be considered to be a real and powerful opponent to the West and the West does everything possible to use ancient tool “divide and rule”, because we can observe active integration processes on Eurasian territory that can become a real pole of power. Uniting of efforts and working out common policy can give a chance to Eurasian space to occupy an appropriate place in the world politics.

The basic priorities for SCO are strengthening of safety and development of economic cooperation. As for the safety strengthening it is necessary to emphasize that the prime task here is the fight with international terrorism, extremism and separatism in the region that is not characterized by stability, especially Central Asia states. Taking into account the complex situation in this region above mentioned goals must become of top priority in the functioning of SCO, because this region is a convenient territory for people trafficking, drug and weapon trafficking, the region is characterized by separatist movements and unsettled border issues that can put into doubt the effectiveness of the organization. Besides drug trafficking this region is characterized by its production. Today the situation is worsened by inability of NATO troops to solve the drug problem in Afghanistan whish has risen sharply with the deployment of coalition troops in this country. So if we compare the statistics of drugs production before and after military campaign in Afghanistan we can see the following figures: in 2001 (the last year of Taliban ruling) 185 tones of opium was gathered, in 2002 – 2700 tone already, in 2003 – more than 7000 tones, in 2004 – 12 000 tones. In connection with this fact it is necessary to point out that the war against terrorism has serious drawbacks.   

No doubt that SCO at present is becoming an enormous and influential regionally political union in Central Asia making an impact on adjacent regions of the Middle (Afghanistan, Iran) and Southern Asia (India, Pakistan). For Russia and China SCO is an important tool for defending their strategic interests in the region and in the world as well. SCO at the contemporary level of development may lay fundamentals for a serious pole of power on the world political map under the conditions of the multipoled world. 

There is an opinion that SCO by its potential could be compared with BRICS. As Kasakhstan President N.Nazarbaev mentioned the total population of SCO states is 1,5 billion people and its territory occupies 60% of Eurasia. In other words, on the one hand it is an enormous market that can stimulate an economic growth and on the other hand it could be a huge army of working force. An additional bonus is the natural resources that are able to provide a stable growth of national GDP for a long-term period: SCO territory has 25% of oil resources, 30% of natural gas and 50% of uranium [1, p.264].

Besides SCO is considered to be self-sufficient organization and by the end of 2010 gold reserves of SCO states made $ 3,6 trillion. So, SCO has everything that is necessary to become a strong point of a global economy in post crisis period.  When experts say about the perspectives of SCO development they think about joining SCO by India, Pakistan and Iran. But if to analyze technical and economic characteristics it is necessary to point out that SCO hasn’t exhausted its potential yet. 

 Nowadays SCO members are on different level of development. By the example of Europe of different speed we can also speak about SCO of different levels. This structure we can represent as 2+2+2 where the 1st level is occupied by Russia and China, the second level – Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the third level -  Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. 

Russia and China are the states that are objectively due to their geopolitical and economic situation are supposed to be responsible for the common strategic political direction of SCO and relations with the rest of the world. 

Of course there are some contradictions within the organization as for some questions. So, there are contradictions between Russia and China connected with different views on the degree and terms of integration processes development in SCO zone. China believes that the SCO priorities between counterterroristic and economical activity must be carried out simultaneously and in the nearest future economic activity must occupy the top place in the organization functioning. Russia, vice versa, insists on keeping traditional SCO activity in the sphere of fighting with terrorism, extremism and separatism. Russian and China consider the opportunities of economic integration in a different way. So, Russian experts think that integration in SCO zone is a long-term perspective and at this period of time and now it is possible to carry out subregional integrational projects between 2 or 3 countries with similar economies. Chinese representatives believe that creation of joint integrational space within SCO member states in the nearest future is possible and desirable.

 It is necessary to emphasize that together with solving common counterterroristic problems China is eager to make SCO into the tool of its economic strategy realization in Central Asia. Moreover Beijing doesn’t participate in any other regional organization down to other SCO members who are simultaneously are the members of various regional and subregional economic projects.

 Another question consists in if the goals of SCO members coincide with the China’s objectives. It is obviously that each SCO member besides common integrational goals, has its own national priorities and it is a natural process. The main point is that the specifics of national interests wouldn’t contradict to the common organization strategy and wouldn’t prevent it from developing. On the one hand active investment and trade policy of China in less developed Central Asian zones of SCO may really assist to local peoples in terms of infrastructure development, improving living conditions, cooperation development. On the other hand activization of China in the region both on bilateral and on SCO level automatically increases Russian-China competitiveness for the transport and energy markets. In terms of energy problem it is necessary to mention the fact that China and Russia couldn’t agree on gas supplies from Russia into China in June 2011 – Russia wanted $300 for one thousand cubic meters and China was ready to give only $250. 

Despite all these contradictions it is necessary to underline that SCO became an important tool for Russia and China of protecting their strategic interests in the world. 

There is one more serious aspect on which SCO has to work out a principle decision. It is not a secret that between some Central Asia states there are tensions, i.e in the sphere of water usage, energy resources, delimitation and demarcation of borders. The problem is that such issues may prevent SCO from normal developing and in this case states will make emphasis not on uniting but on dividing issues. And nowadays it is quite necessary to do everything possible to solve ethnoterritorial problems between SCO states.

   The most difficult unsolved issue between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan is a territorial one. Territorial problem between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is worsened by enclave factor. Contradictions between  Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been taking place for a long period of time. More than half of Tajik people live in economically undeveloped regions of Uzbekistan, the level of living conditions is much lower than average in the country, the level of unemployment is catastrophically high together with high level of demography, Tajik people are politically indifferent and don’t want to participate in political life of Uzbekistan

  In terms of analyzing SCO I can’t help analyzing the issue of security which can be guaranteed by such an organization as Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). American experts are afraid that on the basis of SCO, CSTO, Chinese and Iranian cooperation, a strong “oil OPEC with nuclear weapon” can appear on this territory that will be able to oppose the West. In comparison with Germany, Japan and Italy in times of the World War II, the Americans have already called it a lethally dangerous axes for the US. But we must underline that these countries just protect their own interests that is quite natural.

If to analyze CSTO despite the fact that it shows its effectiveness, it has faced with a wide range of problems. First of all, the absence of common Eurasian space of security, it is still fragmented by internal contradictions when its parts don’t harmonize, but also compete with each other. Another problem lies in further indefinite evolution. Not having transformed into really functioning military and political bloc, CSTO strives to position itself as universal organization on providing regional security by the example of NATO. Ex-president of Russia D.Medvedev used to say that CSTO was created and is functioning now not with the same goals as NATO. He is completely right because NATO was created as an organization with the prime goal of opposing the USSR and controlling the whole world. CSTO is eager to solve the problems of regional security and protecting its states from “color revolution”. As we could see all the countries in which color revolutions took place became worse by all points, economical and political.

The value of CSTO consists in the fact that being the only specialized regional organization of security, it doesn’t have any other goals. It could function only in this form and its possible transformation into organization with some cultural or economic elements would lead to the decrease of its effectiveness. 

There is the third point and it lies in the fact that if CSTO pretends on being an organization of collective security it has to make an emphasis on developing political components, working with the conflicts on the territory of its member states, to do monitoring and develop a set of preventive measures and sanctions, to organize negotiations and post conflict settlement. It is difficult to understand a passive role that this organization played during events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 2010 and president of Belarus A.Lukashchenko put it right by saying that the organization took a observing position and if it can’t solve problems in member states its effectiveness is on a very low level [2].

As for the relations in the format SCO-CSTO, the key problem is the parallelism in their functioning. These two organizations, members of which are almost the same states, put the same set of goals as for providing security in Central Asia: fight with terrorism, religious and political extremism, resisting drug trafficking and illegal migration. Thus, sooner or later raising the question as for dividing zones of responsibility for these two organizations will become too important.

  Besides, we can say that Russia plays the key role in SCO but not China, but the latter announced Central Asia as a region of its strategic priorities and it is impossible to predict how China will behave itself when the partnership with Russia won’t be so important as it is nowadays.

 Moreover, if to be correct we may say that the source of separatism, extremism, terrorism and other negative threatens is dissatisfaction of people with their living conditions. This factor creates basis for widely spread support of extremists. So I believe that in order to avoid problems in future all member states have to solve one important problem and that is economic development.

Besides if Iran or India join SCO and then transform ineffective CSTO into serious military organization we will get a serious bloc of states which show a rapid and stable speed of development. In this situation Iran won’t have problems with finishing its nuclear projects, though China, Russia and India may provide Iran with security that is considered by the US as a state of axes of evil. Pessimists say on the other hand such a variant is unlikely to come true because there will be too many ambitious states in such an alliance who will try to occupy the leading place in the organization. But as the practice shows when NATO was in the process of formation there were also too many ambitious and influential states. So if the Eurasia states want to guarantee security on its territory the only way out is to create a serious military and economical tandem by the example NATO – EU. Contemporary problem of  CSTO and Eurasian space is that we can also observe such a negative tendency as possible disintegration. This year Uzbekistan, that thinks that it could become a kind of integrational center on Central Asia territory, suspended its membership in CSTO, besides it has many contradictions with its neighbors. So, as we can see, the situation here is unpredictable and some experts say that there wasn’t a real integration, it was just a kind of illusion that post Soviet states can reintegrate and protect their interests together. I believe that Uzbekistan is going to follow the example of Georgia that decided to be more independent from Russia and play its own policy in the region. But it goes without saying that a country that wants to lead a separate and independent policy not being an influential one is likely to fail. So time will show. 


Literature used:

  1. Медведев Р. Нурсултан Назарбаев. Казахстанский прорыв и Евразийский проект / Рой Медведев. – М.: Издательство BBPG, 2008. – 384 с. 
  2. Рябінін Є. В. Чи стануть ШОС та ОДКБ стати євразійськими ЄС та НАТО? / Є. В. Рябінін // Зовнішні справи. — 2011. — № 9. — С. 50—52.
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