Caspian Policy Center Holds Discussion on Balanced Geopolitics and Global Power Dynamics in the Caspian Region
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Apr 29, 2021
Experts discussed the steps the United States can take in its diplomatic engagement with the Greater Caspian region and how the regional countries can benefit from a balanced engagement with their international partners.
Washington, D.C. — TODAY, the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) hosted a panel of scholars and experts to discuss how the United States can balance its diplomatic engagement with the Greater Caspian region and how the regional countries can benefit from increasing interest of China, Russia, the United States, the European Union, and nearby powers like Turkey and Iran.
The conversation was held in conjunction with the release of CPC’s latest briefs, “Balanced Geopolitics: International Actors in Central Asia” and "Russia’s Historical Defense Ties and China’s Rising Military Presence in Central Asia,” that explore balanced geopolitics and global power dynamics in the Caspian Region.
"The interest from China, Russia, the United States, and the European Union, as well as other nearby powers like Turkey and Iran, continue to bring attention to the region as the areas of Central Asia and the South Caucasus are home to a vast wealth of natural resources and straddle vital east-west and north-south transit corridors,” said Efgan Nifti, Chief Executive Officer of the CPC.
Dr. Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University, delivered keynote remarks during the discussion highlighting the importance of the U.S. strategic interests in supporting democratic, prosperous, and secure countries in Central Asia.
“When we talk about Central Asia, we lump the region all together, but it is made up not only of different locations, languages, ethnicities, ” said Dr. Frankopan. “There are substantial differences within individual states too, and we need to be careful not to be following with the one medicine fits all concept.”
Ambassador (ret.) Richard Hoagland, Security and Politics Program Chair at the Caspian Policy Center, moderated an insightful conversation among the webinar participants on the regional geopolitics and diverse international actors in the region.
The panelists, Dr. Roger Kangas, Academic Dean and Professor of Central Asian Studies at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, Niva Yau, Researcher at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and Eurasia Program Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Major General (ret.) Michael Repass, Senior Fellow at CPC, and Nicole Wolkov, Research Assistant at CPC,
discussed competing interests of China, Russia, the United States, and other outside powers in the region while also underscoring the agency that the countries of Central Asia have in determining their foreign policy futures.
“We do often think of the region in terms of the U.S.-Russia-China triangle, but other actors play a part too. The countries in the region have agency and need to think through some of these matters,” said Dr. Kangas.
“As for China’s long-term interests in the region, the country has been trying to shift global trade from sea to land, which has a very practical implication in terms of China’s military goals and its ideological interests,” said Ms. Yau.
“Our recommendations to the U.S. include acknowledging the existing power dynamics in the region. This is a must in approaching any sort of Central Asian strategy with a multi-vector mindset,” said Ms. Wolkov.
The panelists also discussed the unique role that the United States can play in balancing Russian and Chinese involvement in the region by calling on the new Biden administration to engage more closely with Central Asia because of the United States’ competitor status with China and Russia.
They encouraged the Biden Administration to actively engage with the region despite its geographical disadvantage to ensure that the United States maintains a steady presence in Central Asia.
“Russia and China have the advantages of geographic juxtaposition to the Caspian basin and have exploited these advantages to their benefit, while the U.S. and the West, in general, have a much harder task when it comes to this due to the obvious aspect of being distant to the region,” said Major General Repass.
At the end of the webinar, the speakers also discussed other countries that hold influence in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and mentioned that these countries should not be neglected from the great power competition discussions in the future.
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ABOUT CASPIAN POLICY CENTER
The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.
With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and the policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights about the outstanding issues of the Caspian region. Learn more at caspianpolicy.org.
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