Central-Asia energy geoeconomics and geopolitics : Central Asia’s pursuit of sovereignty and prosperity
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The former-Soviet states that make up Central Asia are among the most challenging group of countries to understand in the twenty-first century geopolitical and geoeconomic context. As one of the last of the world’s frontiers, much of this regions’ energy potential in oil and natural gas has yet to be tapped or, even, be found; and the region’s strategic position make Central Asia a significant region for energy markets and global affairs. The last few decades in Central Asia have been shaped by the determination to develop their energy sectors with a balance between attracting foreign energy firms and preserving its authority over its energy assets. States have also struggled to protect their sovereignty over their political and economic affairs from militant, nationalist or sectarian groups as well as from great powers like Russia and China. In spite of its many challenges, Central Asia has many opportunities to develop those institutions, regional relationships and positive economic and political practices that will promote a productive energy sector and a thriving economy. Central-Asian states must achieve its goals of establishing an energy policy that secures prosperity for all, promoting productive energy relations with all Central-Asian states, reducing undue foreign influence but promoting foreign cooperation that benefits Central-Asia’s global relationships, and establishing peace and stability that protect energy infrastructure, production and exports. The future of Central-Asian energy relations can take many different paths and is dependent on the fate of its neighbors Russia, Afghanistan, South Asia and Iran. Russia’s needs for Central Asia’s neighbors to become unstable or inhospitable to energy development, but peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan can open new markets for Central Asia; and changes in Iran can unlock new opportunities to ship oil and gas to Western markets around Russia. For all that the region has endured since independence, the world should apply greater value on this region as its energy prowess and strategic importance make Central Asia an influential player in twenty-first century global relations.