On the eve of the adoption of the new EU’s Central Asia Strategy, SEnECA is providing its version of the future of Central Asia for the year 2030 in its latest policy paper. The paper covers the following three areas: 1. political and economic developments in Central Asian countries, 2. intra-regional cooperation in Central Asia and 3. the EU’s engagement with Central Asia.
The paper concludes that in the year 2030, Central Asian countries will be more advanced economically and will be more open to the outside world in economic terms. Freedoms and liberties will progress at a slower pace and their levels will vary strongly from country to country in the region. Although bilateral and multilateral relations inside the region will have improved by 2030, they will not amount to regional integration.
In 2030, the EU will still play an important role in Central Asia, but its comparative influence will be smaller than today. Other powers, Russia and China in particular, will retain and expand their presence. Thus, in a decade, Central Asia will be a different region from today and changes since the 2007 EU’ Strategy to the upcoming will be starker. Therefore, also EU’s approach has to adapt.
The forecasts of SEnECA are based on semi-structured interviews conducted with experts from the SEnECA network, on a focus group discussion from the SEnECA Scenario Worksop in Almaty (January 2019) and on the analysis of academic and other literature.
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In 2030, Central Asia will be a more cooperative region. SEnECA experts expect that bilateral and multilateral relations will improve as new domestically and externally facilitated engagements will develop in such spheres as travel facilitation, water management and cross-country regional engagement.
Kyrgyzstan is currently the only country in the region where changes in power following elections function well. In the other four countries, a transition from one leader to the other has happened, though in a less transparent and open way.
The overall SEnECA experts’ outlook on Central Asia countries and the region as a whole in 2030 is optimistic. When it comes to political systems and policies, including such issues as human rights, the rule of law and economics, the current vectors are likely to continue and determine the situation in 2030.
According to the United Nations forecasts, […] in 2030 the total population of Central Asia could reach 83.7 million people.