William Courtney https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/6409/all cached version 04/07/2018 20:11:51 en Kazakhstan's Democracy Gap https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/william-courtney/kazakhstans-democracy-gap <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img style="float: right;" src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Nazarbayev(2).jpg" alt="Ukraine_Euro" width="160" /></p> <p>Over its two decades of independence Kazakhstan has made enormous progress. Economic reforms, energy exploitation and interethnic harmony are major gains. Democratic reforms, however, lag behind. William Courtney writes about the “democracy gap” that is putting the country’s future at risk.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Over most of the past twenty years Kazakhstan has been a beacon of peace and security in Central Asia. Recently, however, internal unease and unrest appear to have increased. Several incidents are symptomatic of the situation:</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 16th December last year, security forces fired on unarmed striking oil workers and other people in the western city of Zhanaozen, killing and wounding a large number. The workers had been on strike for nearly eight months.</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 18th April, after a trial behind closed doors, forty-seven men were sentenced to prison terms for alleged terrorism in the western city of Atyrau.</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 19th April, a courageous independent journalist in western Kazakhstan, Lukpan Akhmedyarov, was stabbed and shot with a pneumatic pistol. He had gained prominence for reporting on abuses of government power. On 27th , despite being seriously wounded, Akhmedyarov was put on trial for allegedly "wounding the dignity and honour" of an provincial official.</p> <blockquote><p><em><em>'These incidents suggest that politics and governance in Kazakhstan are fraying at the edges. The legitimacy of the current political system and leadership may be ebbing. Political life is insufficiently open and resilient to absorb conflicting pressures.'</em></em></p></blockquote> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 28th May, fourteen border guards and a park ranger were killed at a remote outpost on the Kazakhstani-Chinese border. Officials charged a private in the border guard for the crime, although it looked more like the work of a well-armed gang than a single soldier. Suspicion that the private had been framed was heightened when a television newscaster resigned rather than report his alleged confession.</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 29th May, gold miners were given a 30-35% pay increase on the first day of a strike.&nbsp; Earlier in May, copper workers won a rise of 100% after striking for two days. These settlements suggest that the authorities fear another extended or bitter strike, such as that in Zhanaozen. Undue wage concessions, however, could lead to overblown demands elsewhere.</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 30th May, Kazakhstan's leadership lashed out at the social media for ‘spreading lies and propagating violence and evil’.</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 4th June, thirty-three people were convicted of inciting mass disorder in Zhanaozen last December, and thirteen were sentenced to prison. Many fewer police have been convicted of crimes related to tragic events of 16th December,&nbsp; even though they were the ones doing the shooting.</p> <blockquote><p><em>'Frustrations seem to be greatest in western Kazakhstan. People there may expect a greater share of the benefits from the dynamic pace of energy development in their region.'</em></p></blockquote> <p>--&nbsp; On 5th June, an activist who defended the rights of coal miners and oil workers in Zhanaozen was found dead in his apartment.</p> <p>--&nbsp;&nbsp; On 15th June, in Almaty, the authorities arrested an internationally respected theatre director on charges of ‘inciting social hatred’. The director, Bolat Atabayev, had put on a play in March that made allusions to the Zhanaozen tragedy and official repression.</p> <h3><strong>What do these incidents say about Kazakhstan?</strong></h3> <p>Taken together, these incidents suggest that politics and governance in Kazakhstan are fraying at the edges. The legitimacy of the current political system and leadership may be ebbing. Political life is insufficiently open and resilient to absorb conflicting pressures. There are too few checks and balances to monitor and properly restrain executive power.</p> <p>Frustrations seem to be greatest in western Kazakhstan.&nbsp; People there may expect a greater share of the benefits from the dynamic pace of energy development in their region. Differences between actual and expected improvements in living standards might be increasing faster there than elsewhere in Kazakhstan.</p> <p>The problem in this region seems to be symptomatic of a wider challenge for Kazakhstan – an increasing gap between economic and political progress.&nbsp; This gap may be fermenting popular anxieties and unrest, and eroding social strengths such as interethnic harmony.&nbsp; </p> <blockquote><p><em>'Two [comparators] have made more combined political and economic progress than Kazakhstan: Slovenia and Bulgaria.&nbsp; Both belong to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Two countries have made less progress: Ukraine and Uzbekistan.'</em></p></blockquote> <p>Published rankings by independent organizations, and statistics for per capita income, make possible quantitative comparisons that shed some light on the scale of Kazakhstan's democracy gap.</p> <p>On the basis of these I have made a comparison between five European and Eurasian countries formerly under communist rule -- Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Rankings are shown for three indices of political progress and three of economic progress (see appendix below for details).</p> <p>The comparators were chosen for illustrative purposes; they are not a scientific sample. Two have made more combined political and economic progress than Kazakhstan: Slovenia and Bulgaria. Both belong to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Two countries have made less progress: Ukraine and Uzbekistan.&nbsp; </p> <h3><strong>Several conclusions may be drawn from these data.</strong></h3> <p>First, two countries – Slovenia and Bulgaria -- have made the most democratic progress, and their economic progress correlates roughly with this.</p> <p>Second, despite having benefitted from the popular Orange Revolution and several fair elections and peaceful transfers of power, Ukraine has made scarcely more democratic progress than Kazakhstan, mainly because of its high level of corruption.&nbsp; On the economic side, Ukraine is held back by its low per capita income. As a consequence of these factors, Kazakhstan has made more overall progress than Ukraine, an aspirant to membership in the European Union. </p> <p>Third, although Uzbekistan, the most populous Central Asian state, was once widely considered to be the most important player in Central Asia and a natural leader, the absence of significant political and economic reforms has left it weakened. Kazakhstan has overtaken Uzbekistan as the major power in Central Asia.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Fourth, although Kazakhstan has made strong economic gains (it trails only Slovenia among the comparators), it has made less progress towards democracy. This imbalance may help explain why internal unease seems to be growing. The rising expectations of increasingly prosperous and educated Kazakhstanis for more participation in political life are not being met.</p> <p>The lack of balance in Kazakhstan’s economic and political progress may lead to more serious tensions in the future, and a higher risk of unstable political transitions.&nbsp; The issue is not whether reforms meet with Western approbation, but whether they satisfy the growing aspirations of Kazakhstanis. The problem is not that democratic reforms are too rapid, but that they are too modest.</p> <h3><strong>Appendix</strong></h3> <p>Comparative Political and Economic Indices for Kazakhstan</p> <p>Rankings are shown by raw score, and normalized as a percentage of 100. The latter are in brackets.</p> <p><strong>1. Political Indices</strong></p> <p>1.&nbsp; <a href="http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/">Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index 2011</a>.&nbsp; Ranks countries and territories according to their perceived levels of public sector corruption.&nbsp; 183 countries.&nbsp; Slovenia, 35 (19); Bulgaria, 86 (47); Kazakhstan, 120 (63); Ukraine, 152 (80); Uzbekistan, 177 (94).</p> <p>2.&nbsp; Vision of Humanity, Global Peace Index 2012.&nbsp; Ranks countries by their absence of violence, using metrics that combine both internal and external factors.&nbsp; 158 countries.&nbsp; Slovenia, 8(5); Bulgaria, 40 (25); Ukraine, 72 (46); Kazakhstan, 106 (67); Uzbekistan, 111 (70).</p> <p>3.&nbsp; Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace, Failed States 2012.&nbsp; Ranks countries according to indices of state failure.&nbsp; 177 countries. Slovenia, 16 (9); Bulgaria, 47 (27); Ukraine, 64 (36); Kazakhstan, 70 (40); Uzbekistan, 138 (78).</p> <p><strong>2. Economic Indices</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-competitiveness/index.html">World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Index 2011-12</a>. Measures business operating environments and competitiveness. 142 countries.&nbsp; Slovenia, 57 (40); Kazakhstan, 72 (51); Bulgaria, 74 (52); Ukraine, 82 (58); Uzbekistan, not ranked.</p> <p>2. <a href="http://www.doingbusiness.org/reports/global-reports/doing-business-2012">World Bank, Doing Business 2012</a>: Doing Business in a More Transparent World.&nbsp; Assesses regulations affecting domestic firms and ranks economies on business regulation, using such indices as starting a business, resolving insolvency and trading across borders.&nbsp;&nbsp; 183 countries.&nbsp; Slovenia, 37 (20); Kazakhstan, 47 (26); Bulgaria, 59 (32); Ukraine, 152 (83); Uzbekistan, 166 (91).</p> <p>3. <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD">World Bank, Gross National Income Per Capita 2011, Atlas Method. </a>&nbsp;215 countries. Slovenia ($23,860), 47 (22); Kazakhstan ($7,440), 90 (42); Bulgaria ($6,240),97 (45); Ukraine ($3,010), 135 (63); Uzbekistan ($1,280), 163 (76).</p><p>Averages of Indices Using Normalized Values</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Political&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Economic&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Combined</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Average</p> <p>Slovenia&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 11&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 27&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;19</p> <p>Bulgaria&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 33&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 43&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 38</p> <p>Kazakhstan&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 57&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 40&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 48</p> <p>Ukraine&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 54&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 68&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 61</p> <p>Uzbekistan&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 81&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 84&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; 82</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>‘<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/world/asia/kazakhstan-offers-jobs-in-wake-of-clash-with-oil-workers.html">To Mend Ties After Clash, Kazakhstan Makes an Offer</a>’, By <a title="More Articles by Andrew E. Kramer" href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/andrew_kramer/index.html?inline=nyt-per">Andrew E. Kramer</a>, The New York Times, Jan 29th, 2012</p> <p>‘<a href="http://eurodialogue.org/The-whole-truth-about-Zhanaozen">The whole truth about Zhanaozen</a>’, by Alina Kantor, European Dialogue, June 4th, 2012</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/luca-anceschi/central-asia-succession-planning-in-dictatorships">Central Asia: succession planning in dictatorships</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/ryan-gallagher/decapitated-dogs-and-burning-bureaus-year-kazakhstan-did-democracy">Decapitated dogs and burning bureaus: the year Kazakhstan did democracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/openrussia/kazakhstan-warm-up-for-the-osce">Kazakhstan: warm up for the OSCE</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/baktybek-abdrisaev-alexey-semyonov/spring-coming-soon-to-central-asia">Spring: coming soon to Central Asia?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/denis-corboy-william-courtney-kenneth-yalowitz%E2%80%A8%E2%80%A8/central-asia-new-security-challenges">Central Asia: new security challenges</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/john-heathershaw-nick-megoran/central-asia-discourse-of-danger">Central Asia: the discourse of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/carlo-ungaro/central-asia-smouldering-volcano">Central Asia - the smouldering volcano</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/madeleine-reeves/breaking-point-why-kyrgyz-lost-their-patience">Breaking point: why the Kyrgyz lost their patience</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kazakhstan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Kazakhstan Democracy and government democracy & power russia & eurasia russia William Courtney Politics Internal Economy Thu, 21 Jun 2012 14:01:33 +0000 William Courtney 66590 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Get real about ‘enlarging Europe’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/denis-corboy-william-courtney-kenneth-yalowitz/get-real-about-%E2%80%98enlarging-europe%E2%80%99 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Membership of EU and NATO continues to be a thorny question for the countries of Eastern Europe and for Turkey. Arrangements short of full membership offer economic and security benefits and should be the way forward, contend Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz </div> </div> </div> <P>In recent days NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen and U.S. Secretary of State <A href="http://jamestownfoundation.blogspot.com/2010/10/clinton-endorses-georgias-integration.html">Hillary Clinton have reaffirmed support for Georgia’s</a> aspiration to join the alliance. Georgia and Ukraine proclaim interest in becoming EU members. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev urges a “pan-European security treaty” that could legitimize the coercion of neighbours.</p> <P>It’s time to get real. None of this will happen soon, maybe never.</p> <P>Except for the Baltic states, NATO or EU admission is not in sight for Russia and the remaining states created from the&nbsp;1991 collapse of the USSR (the “post-Soviet 12”).</p> <P>EU enlargement since 2004 has added twelve new democracies (the “new EU 12”), but opposition is strong to admitting post-Soviet 12 countries.&nbsp;Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine seek membership. As for NATO, Georgia remains eager to join but lost most of its support after president Mikheil Saakashvili unwisely gave Russia a pretext for its August 2008 invasion.&nbsp;NATO is a divisive issue in Ukraine and it no longer seeks admission.</p> <P>A comparison of the post-Soviet 12 and the new EU 12 shows a startling gap:&nbsp;</p> <UL> <LI>Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index (1 is best, 180 worst) shows an average of 49 for the new EU 12 versus 136 for the post-Soviet 12.</li> <LI>In the World Bank index on ease of doing business (1 is best, 183 worst) the new EU 12 countries rank 46 on average, versus 83 for the post-Soviet 12.</li> <LI>In the Freedom House survey of worldwide freedom (1 is best, 7 worst) the new EU 12 countries rank 1.2 on average while the post-Soviet 12 average is far lower, 5.25.&nbsp;</li></ul> <P>There are two partial positive outliers.&nbsp;Georgia ranks high in ease of doing business (12) and better than others in corruption perceptions (66) but not in freedom (4).&nbsp;Ukraine scores higher in freedom (2.5) but poorly in the other two areas. Next year its freedom ranking will fall as president Viktor Yanukovych rolls back liberties.&nbsp;</p> <P>No wonder NATO and the EU are reluctant.</p> <P>Turkey's saga with EU accession is instructive.&nbsp;Membership negotiations are stalled and Turkey is focusing more on the Islamic world. The EU should change course to offer a strategic partnership which, while maintaining a path toward membership, recognizes that Turkey is a pivotal regional power.</p> <P>Likewise, NATO and the EU should offer post-Soviet 12 reformers and key partners meaningful arrangements short of membership.&nbsp;</p> <P><A href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Association_Agreement">EU Association Agreements</a> bring extensive trade and investment benefits if countries reform.&nbsp;Visa-free travel is included if border controls meet Schengen standards.&nbsp; Negotiations on Agreements are well along with Ukraine and Moldova and will begin with Georgia.</p> <P>New Agreements with post-Soviet 12 reformers should offer liberal access to EU markets and improved support for investment. They should also mandate adherence to the <A href="http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/energy/external_dimension_enlargement/l27028_en.htm">Energy Charter Treaty</a>, to reassure investors.&nbsp;New, more substantive NATO arrangements with the post-Soviet 12 should build on important interests and <A href="http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_50349.htm">Partnership for Peace</a> cooperation to encompass assistance in defence planning, intelligence sharing, and maritime awareness. &nbsp;Georgia, especially, needs stronger defensive arrangements.</p> <P>Both the EU and NATO are vital for post-Soviet security.&nbsp;In Georgia, for example, the EU stepped forward to monitor the ceasefire with Russia.</p> <BLOCKQUOTE> <P><EM>Lately I have been asking my Western, NATO colleagues this direct question: 'Can you tell me, is it that Russia can't be a member of NATO because of the way it is now, because something isn't right with its political system or the electoral system or human rights or something else? Or is it that Russia in principle isn't suitable as a NATO member, and even after it resolves all these current problems will you say "no" anyway because that can never be under any circumstances? And it is interesting that this direct question always leaves them speechless."</em></p> <P><EM>Konstantin Kosachyov, the Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee</em></p></blockquote> <P>Together NATO and the EU should offer comprehensive security dialogues to the post-Soviet 12.&nbsp;They ought to address such issues as stemming the spread of violence from Afghanistan to Central Asia and from Russia’s North Caucasus to Georgia and Azerbaijan, improving the security of Caspian energy development and transport, and widening political participation to improve internal security.</p> <P>President Medvedev’s push for “modernization” might foretell possible Russian openness to a security dialogue.&nbsp;It should address Moscow’s claim of “privileged interests” in nearby countries, missile defence and other military cooperation, and how to counter transnational threats such as narcotics trafficking and terrorism.</p> <P>At their summits next month, the EU and NATO ought to advance concepts for meaningful new arrangements with the post-Soviet 12 and end the suspense about Russia’s flawed treaty idea. The Strategic Concept which NATO will unveil should not just reiterate the bromide of an “open door.”<EM></em></p> <P><EM>Denis Corboy is director of the Caucasus Policy Institute at Kings College London and was European Commission ambassador to Georgia and Armenia. William Courtney was U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia. Kenneth Yalowitz is director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and was U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><A href="http://www.cicerofoundation.org/lectures/Marcel_H_Van_Herpen_Medvedevs_Proposal_for_a_Pan-European_Security_Pact.pdf">Medvdev’s Proposal for a Paneuropean Security Pact</a>, Its Six Hidden Objectives and</p> <P>How the West Should Respond, by Marcel H. Van Herpen, Cicero Working Papers, Paris/Maastricht, October, 2008.</p> <P><A href="http://www.cer.org.uk/pdf/pbrief_medvedev_july09.pdf">Medvedev and the New European security architecture</a>, By Bobo Lo, Centre For European Reform, London, July 2009</p> <P><A href="http://rbth.ru/articles/2010/06/23/a_zone_of_responsibility.html">A zone of responsibility</a>, By Fyodor Lukyanov, Russia Beyond Headlines, 23 June, 2010</p> <P><A href="http://www.da.mod.uk/colleges/arag/document-listings/cee/g81/G81.chap2">Russia &amp; Post-Soviet Security– Does Russia Still Matter?</a> by Christopher Bellamy</p> <P><A href="http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/">Russia In Global Affairs</a> Magazine</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <P><STRONG><EM>“New” big powers like Russia, China, India, and many countries in Asia and the Middle East believe that the world order should be based on the interaction of geopolitical interests. They view developments in different regions marked by high diplomatic and international activity through this prism, as well.</em></strong></p> <P><STRONG><EM>US policies are based on purely geo-strategic logic, yet they are camouflaged in various ways. The European Union categorically refutes assumptions that its actions may stem from geopolitical logic. Contemporary Europe rejects the very principle of geopolitical contradictions, making instead emphasis on the need for a win-win situation.</em></strong></p> <P><STRONG><EM>Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor of “Russia in Global Affairs”</em></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/mark-leonard/spectre-of-multipolar-europe">The spectre of multipolar Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/email/medvedev-and-the-new-european-security-architecture">Medvedev and the new European security architecture</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/security-briefing/russia-proposes-updated-european-security-treaty">Russia proposes updated European security treaty </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-europe_security/article_374.jsp">Europe&#039;s security priorities: a Nato perspective</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Russia International politics russia & eurasia russia Kenneth Yalowitz William Courtney Denis Corboy Foreign Thu, 21 Oct 2010 10:21:00 +0000 Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz 56497 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Central Asia: new security challenges https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/denis-corboy-william-courtney-kenneth-yalowitz%E2%80%A8%E2%80%A8/central-asia-new-security-challenges <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Kyrgyzstan’s violence underscores the instability of those former Soviet governments which are burdened by authoritarian and corrupt rule. To varying degrees, every Central Asian country faces serious threats at home and from the war in neighboring Afghanistan. They need help. The West and Russia should act, including by engaging the underutilized Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- is insecure. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have ethnic kin fighting in Afghanistan who might target repressive rulers at home. &nbsp;The extremist <a href="http://www.ag.gov.au/agd/WWW/nationalsecurity.nsf/Page/What_Governments_are_doing_Listing_of_Terrorism_Organisations_Islamic_Movement_of_Uzbekistan">Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan</a> is becoming more threatening. &nbsp;The recent cessation of U.S. support for eradicating poppy fields in Afghanistan will spur <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav050901.shtml">narcotics trafficking via Central Asia</a>.</p> <p>Economic challenges and rampant corruption undermine security. The area is rich in oil and gas mainly in the Caspian region and America and its companies have an important stake in the development of its huge oil reserves and diversification of world oil supplies.</p> <p>That said, high unemployment and dashed expectations in impoverished Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan could provoke social explosions. Most people in Turkmenistan remain poor despite its <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/country_profiles/1298497.stm">huge natural gas reserves</a>. In <a href="http://www1.american.edu/ted/kazakh.htm">Kazakhstan oil development</a> raises many but not all living standards. A major Central Asia security initiative &ndash; made more urgent by developments in Kyrgyzstan &ndash; could offer content worthy of a summit.</p><p><img src="http://www.opendemocracy.net/files/Central%20Asia-wikimedia.jpg" alt="Central Asia map" width="424" height="336" /></p> <p><em>Central Asia map (Wikimedia)</em></p> <p>Regional animosities also impede development. <a href="http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&amp;SubjectID=1985aral&amp;Year=1985&amp;Theme=536369656e63652026204e6174757265&amp;navi=byTheme">Desiccation of the Aral Sea</a>, shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, endangers agriculture, the environment, and health. &nbsp; Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan use only a small fraction of their hydroelectric potential. Uzbekistan, their stronger neighbour, demands water for irrigation but wastes a lot.</p> <p>Finally, lack of respect for human rights and poor governance undermine security. &nbsp;The rule of law is a distant hope. In Uzbekistan, torture is widespread. Human Rights Watch calls Turkmenistan one of the most repressive countries in the world.</p> <p>Central Asians need better security. It would help stabilize northern Afghanistan, defeat violent extremists, staunch illicit trafficking, protect supplies bound for Afghanistan, and facilitate legal transportation and migration. These steps would also benefit Russia and the West.</p> <p>Russia has no right to coercive &ldquo;privileged interests&rdquo; in Central Asia but it does have legitimate interests. Half of Russia&rsquo;s many foreign migrants come from Central Asia. In Kazakhstan, Russia uses the <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/elements/baikonur.html">Baikonur cosmodrome</a> and conducts military testing. Narcotics transiting Central Asia feed crime and addiction in Russia.</p> <p>Except to support operations in Afghanistan, the West largely treats Central Asia with benign neglect. The EU excludes the region from its <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/policy_en.htm">neighbourhood policy</a> but provides some assistance. The <a href="http://www.nato.int/issues/pfp/index.html">NATO Partnership for Peace</a> programme offers limited training and exercises.</p> <p>Threats to Central Asia justify far greater exertions. Russia might agree. Foreign Minister Lavrov has called for the OSCE to create counter-drug belts around Afghanistan.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.osce.org/regions/13003.html">OSCE</a> could indeed play a valuable role. It has unmatched skill in fostering regional cooperation. &nbsp;The OSCE approach of comprehensive security - politico-military, economic and environmental, and human - is well suited to Central Asia&rsquo;s woes and all five countries are members. The OSCE has significant ground presence in each country and modest but popular projects, such as border security training and a higher education academy.</p> <p>The time is ripe for the West and Russia to empower the OSCE to support Central Asia as its top priority. <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1079221.html">Kazakhstan, the Chair-in-Office this year</a>, seeks this and is pressing for an OSCE summit, the first in over a decade.</p> <p>A major Central Asia security initiative could offer content worthy of a summit.</p> <p>First, the initiative should help governments improve threat awareness, lessen security vulnerabilities, and enhance warning of potential conflicts. Training and transparency measures to fight security force corruption make sense.</p> <p>Second, the initiative ought to facilitate regional transportation and cooperation on water use and hydroelectric generation. Development of common principles and proposals would be a good start. Establishment of an intra-Caspian freight carrier could expand trade. International support for cooperation in the region has proven its worth. The U.S. facilitated a new export pipeline across Russia for Kazakhstani oil, and a pipeline has just opened for Turkmenistan to export gas to China.</p> <p>Third, the initiative should expand the OSCE&rsquo;s solid leadership in fighting human trafficking, both forced labour and forced prostitution. It is a significant problem in Central Asia, as victims are exploited within the region and also recruited from within the region for exploitation in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In a departure, the OSCE might also help mobilize support for public health campaigns, such as battling TB. Improvements in minority and religious tolerance and human rights may be harder to achieve but more likely to emerge as comprehensive security improves rather than through forced linkages.</p> <p>The OSCE should begin by launching an intensive dialogue with its sometimes fractious Central Asian members. They lack a good understanding of what the OSCE can do for them as members. They tend see it as a foreign organization that only criticizes them and thus are reluctant for the OSCE to become more active in the region. To help turn this around and build support, an informal group of Friends of the Chair-in-Office should be formed &ndash; the troika (preceding, current, and subsequent Chairs-in-Office), and the EU, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.</p> <p>Some momentum for an OSCE summit is building but hour is late. At the <a href="http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2010/April/20100406143850zjsredna0.789776.html">global nuclear security</a> summit in Washington in early April, the Friends should begin organizing and developing a Central Asian security initiative suitable for an OSCE Summit.<em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em><strong>Denis Corboy </strong>is director of the Caucasus Policy Institute at Kings College London and was European Commission ambassador to Georgia and Armenia. <strong>William Courtney</strong> was U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia. <strong>Kenneth Yalowitz </strong>is director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and was U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://books.google.pl/books?id=mQ_0vzyrTTIC&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;dq=Central+Asia+Security&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=dS6WKFL5sa&amp;sig=ZyvmVMomCThYlqKR1V1VD_T9Dgk&amp;hl=pl&amp;ei=-N--S7rYAZCiOPOR7JYE&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=5&amp;ved=0CCkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&amp;q=Central%20As">Central Asian Security</a>, The New International Context, edited by Roy Allison and Lena Jonson, Brookings Institution, Washington, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, 2001</p> <p><a href="http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2009/Asia/central_asian_geopolitics/EN/index.htm">Central Asia: where power, politics and economics collide</a>, by Tamara Makarenko, The NATO Review, 2009</p> <p><a href="http://www.osce.org/astana/item_1_41551.html">OSCE Centre in Astana</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/boris-dolgin/kyrgyzstan-what-will-happen-to-tulips">Kyrgyzstan: what will happen to the tulips?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/security_briefings/070410">Kyrgyzstan on brink of revolution, state of emergency declared</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/email/radical-islam-in-central-asia">Radical Islam in Central Asia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/openeconomy/central-asias-water-problem">Central Asia&#039;s water problem</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/elena-strelnikova/drug-crisis-on-russia%E2%80%99s-borders">Drug crisis on Russia’s borders</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kyrgyzstan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Kyrgyzstan Conflict International politics global security russia & eurasia russia Denis Corboy William Courtney Kenneth Yalowitz Politics Foreign Security in Europe Ecological Security Fri, 09 Apr 2010 08:31:43 +0000 Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz 53623 at https://www.opendemocracy.net William Courtney https://www.opendemocracy.net/author-profile/william-courtney <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> William Courtney </div> </div> </div> <p> William Courtney is a former US ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia. </p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> &lt;p&gt; William Courtney is a former US ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia. &lt;/p&gt; </div> </div> </div> Anonymous author William Courtney Wed, 31 Mar 2010 10:02:50 +0000 Anonymous author and William Courtney 53452 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Russian Reform at a Turning Point https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/denis-corboy-william-courtney-kenneth-yalowitz/russian-reform-at-turning-point <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Much of Russian history is characterized by pendulum swings between orthodoxy and reform to overcome backwardness. Russia is again debating reform and the West has a vital stake. </div> </div> </div> <p>Historically, Russia reforms after a shock.&nbsp; In <a href="http://daviscenter.fas.harvard.edu/seminars_conferences/dolbilov_03_01_02.pdf">1861, serfs were freed</a> after it lost the <a href="http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_crimean.html">Crimean war</a>.&nbsp; A century ago defeat in the <a href="http://www.russojapanesewar.com/index.html">Russo-Japanese war</a> caused mass unrest and led temporarily to a limited constitutional monarchy.&nbsp; After the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia accepted nearly all borders of the new independent states and began market reforms.&nbsp; In 1998 following the <a href="http://www.fas.org/man/crs/crs-asia2.htm">Asian financial crisis</a> Russia floated the ruble and established a low, flat personal income tax.</p> <p>The world economic crisis may offer impetus for new reform.&nbsp; Russia was hit very hard and is recovering slowly.&nbsp; It is too dependent on exports of energy, with volatile prices.&nbsp; Innovation and education are weakened and demographic and health problems are a time bomb.</p> <p>Russia also faces notable political dilemmas.&nbsp; Regional elections last October were a farce and have spurred unusual outrage.&nbsp; Kremlin-centered corruption is worsening.&nbsp; Last month over ten thousand anti-government <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/02/russia-anti-government-protest-kaliningrad">protesters jammed streets in Kaliningrad</a>.&nbsp; Journalists and human rights activists are regularly murdered.&nbsp; Terrorism and separatist pressures in the North Caucasus are growing.&nbsp; Moscow backs a vicious ruler in Chechnya, and Russia continues to intimidate neighbors.&nbsp; Recently prime minister and former president Vladimir Putin inveighed against Ukrainian-style competitive elections.&nbsp; In contrast to the 2004 election, however, he did not intervene openly in favor of a specific candidate.</p> <p>Apparently undaunted, President Medvedev is openly calling for bold political and economic reforms and “modernization,” but supporters of reform cannot match Putin’s cohort, which controls most large state industries and the security sector.&nbsp; Moreover, Medvedev has just authorized a new, disquieting <a href="http://russianforces.org/blog/2010/02/new_russian_military_doctrine.shtml">military doctrine</a>.&nbsp; It singles out NATO as the prime foreign threat, and a secret codicil may lay out a more aggressive approach to nuclear deterrence.</p> <p>Still, there are hopeful signs.&nbsp; Russia has ratified a key protocol of the European Court of Human Rights even though it often rules against the Kremlin.&nbsp; A huge energy <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/6835925/TNK-BP-to-increase-production-in-2010.html">joint venture with BP</a> is moving ahead again.&nbsp; The new doctrine notwithstanding, some military reforms are finally taking place and Russia is negotiating a <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/feb/05/us-russia-nearing-new-treaty-on-arms-control/">new strategic arms treaty</a> with the U.S.&nbsp; The medieval and stifling Russian practice of “propiskas,” or passes, may soon be junked, allowing change of residence and employment.</p> <p>If Russian history is a guide, some reforms will come but how will they fare?&nbsp; The early post-Soviet experience may be instructive.&nbsp; Elite resistance and popular anger from corrupt privatization and steep price increases caused Yeltsin to halt reforms.&nbsp; The <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitri-travin/yegor-gaidar-reformer-who-died-of-neglect">death in December of Yegor Gaidar</a>, economics guru to 1990s-era president Boris Yeltsin, is a reminder that incomplete reforms still jeopardize Russia’s future.</p> <p>One lesson is that new reforms will fail without a wide consensus.&nbsp;&nbsp; Another is that the West should back reform but play no personal favorites, as it did with Yeltsin.&nbsp;</p> <p>For reform to succeed this time, two tasks stand out.</p> <p>First, there must be open examination and public debate of current conditions and past reforms and missteps.&nbsp; If past reforms are seen negatively by large swaths of the population, a consensus for new ones will not be built.</p> <p>Treatment of foreign investors is one field in which debate about reform will be more important.&nbsp; Recently, Medvedev admitted that Russia has an “unfavorable” business climate.&nbsp; Perhaps he had partly in mind the postponement earlier this month of the monstrous <a href="http://www.hydrocarbons-technology.com/projects/shtokman_gas_project/">Shtokman gas project,</a> involving Gasprom as the majority owner, and France’s Total and Norway’s Statoil.&nbsp; While demand factors played a role in the postponement, Russia must give private investors a bigger and more reliable stake if it hopes to reverse a long-term decline in energy production.&nbsp;</p> <p>Second, Russia requires more breathing space to pursue reform.&nbsp; It needs to change fundamentally its reliance on force in the North Caucasus and on coercion of neighbors.&nbsp; The 2008 invasion of Georgia sparked capital flight and provoked the West.&nbsp; Russia should reinvigorate pursuit of WTO membership and shy away from military steps, such as buying <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/mistral.htm">Mistral-class amphibious assault ships</a>, which are sure to make neighbors and many Westerners wary.</p> <p>The pendulum of history may or may not swing back toward reform.&nbsp; Europe and the U.S. should not hesitate, however, in substantially elevating support for it.</p> <p>Because of its deep economic ties to Europe, Russia needs a much closer and comprehensive European partnership, including harmonization to EU legislation and standards.&nbsp; The International Monetary Fund and the U.S. helped anchor the early post-Soviet reforms, and the EU is now well placed to assist.&nbsp;</p> <p>Russia is unique because of its scale, great power status, and natural resources bounty.&nbsp; Ties to Europe should reflect this.&nbsp; A new <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/russia/index_en.htm">EU-Russia Council</a> ought to be created at the level of heads of state and government, with a permanent secretariat.&nbsp; The symbolism is important and the Council could have a wide mandate.&nbsp; For example, Russia may someday seek EU cooperation on reconstruction and reconciliation in the North Caucasus.</p> <p>At the same time the U.S. and Europe need to be firm with Russia to discourage it from making mistakes, akin to the Georgian war, which are likely to undermine efforts to build a consensus for reform.&nbsp; Renewed Russian reform can make the most important contribution to peace and stability in Europe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Denis Corboy is director of the Caucasus Policy Institute at Kings College London and was European Commission ambassador to Georgia and Armenia.&nbsp; William Courtney was Senior Director of the U.S. National Security Council staff for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, and U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia.&nbsp; Kenneth Yalowitz is director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and was U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia and Economics Minister at the US embassy in Moscow.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Agrarian Reform in Russia: The Road from Serfdom (Hardcover), by Carol Leonard, Cambridge University Press 2009, 287 pages.</p> <p>Russia's Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed, by Anders Åslund , Peterson Institute for International Economics, October 2007 •&nbsp;356 pp.</p> <p>Conversations on Russia: Reform From Yeltsin to Putin, Padma Desai , Oxford University Press, 2006, 398 pages</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/dmitry-trenin-and-boris-dolgin/russias-elite-will-grow-up-2">Russia&#039;s elite will grow up! (2)</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/email/russias-new-perestroika">Russia&#039;s new perestroika?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/russia-theme/do-gorbachev-s-clothes-fit-medvedev">Do Gorbachev’s clothes fit Medvedev?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/email/russias-economic-crisis-today">Russia&#039;s economic crisis today</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Russia Democracy and government Economics postsoviet institutions & power russia & eurasia russia Kenneth Yalowitz William Courtney Denis Corboy Internal Economy Fri, 12 Feb 2010 10:33:51 +0000 Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz 50270 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Forward, Mr President! https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/openrussia/forward-mr-president <p> Dear Mr. President, </p> <p> Your September 10 article on Russia&#39;s challenges is laudably frank and incisive in its analysis and call for sweeping reform.  You voiced the belief of many in Russia, and among its friends abroad, that a better life requires more freedom, diversity, and dynamism.  Since you gave less emphasis to how Russia should achieve the lofty goals you set forth, we will offer a few suggestions in response to your gracious open invitation for ideas. </p> <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Denis Corboy is director of the Caucasus Policy Institute at Kings College London and was European Commission ambassador to Georgia and Armenia.  William Courtney was US ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia.  Kenneth Yalowitz is director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and was US ambassador to Belarus and Georgia</span> </p> <p> Whatever path the country takes, Russia&#39;s history and traditions must be respected and built upon.  You are right to eschew &quot;permanent revolution&quot; and seek a considered, gradual reform process.  As you caution, and as Mikhail Gorbachev learned two decades ago, powerful internal forces will oppose change.  Building a broad and durable constituency for reform is essential. </p> <p> Your overall direction is farsighted - Russia must modernize, and in doing so deepen its ties with the advanced democracies and in some areas emulate them.  Europe and America lack monopolies on ideas for reform but between their experiences and Russia&#39;s own, important lessons have been learned.  The most important is the value of open debate and competitive institutions. </p> <p> You are right that Russia possesses enormous advantages, including &quot;a huge territory, colossal natural wealth, substantial industrial potential, [and] an impressive list of brilliant achievements in the sphere of science, technology, education, and art.&quot; </p> <p> These strengths will enhance productivity and the quality of life if they are invigorated by economic competition built on an open economic and political environment.  They will also require greater investments in health and education, a more equitable division of constitutional powers, and new ways to stimulate individual initiative. </p> <p> Let us look at a few ideas as to how Russia can achieve these aims. </p> <p> First, do not under-value &quot;the habit of existing on raw materials exports, in effect exchanging these for finished products.&quot;  Russia will continue to accumulate wealth faster by developing its natural resources than by any other path.  But more competitive internal markets, diminished government control and subsidies, and sharply reduced corruption are vital enablers. </p> <p> For example, breaking up <a href="http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=resources-business-russiancompanies-gazprom.wbp">Gazprom</a> and <a href="http://www.russiaprofile.org/resources/business/russiancompanies/rosneft.wbp">Rosneft</a> into smaller, competing units, and ending subsidized internal prices for energy, would lead to more efficient energy markets and higher productivity.  The new companies would generate far more savings and investment for growth than the two lumbering and wasteful giants ever could. </p> <p> A challenge is to ensure that the returns from raw materials exports do not disappear into private foreign bank accounts, and that control of the new firms does not fall victim to Kremlin intrigues.  Depoliticizing the energy sector would also make Russia a more reliable energy supplier to Europe. </p> <p> Second, you point to &quot;age-old corruption that has drained Russia from time immemorial,&quot; because of &quot;the excessive presence of the state in any remotely important sphere of economic or other social activity&quot; and the chronic lack of initiative and technological innovation. </p> <p> More &quot;checks and balances&quot; are the best way to reduce the heavy burden of corruption on Russian economic life.  Tools for doing this include effective legislative oversight of executive power, a free press which exposes corruption and governmental malfeasance, an independent judiciary which holds corrupt officials and business executives accountable, and independent non-governmental organizations (NGO&#39;s) which have specialized expertise and can educate and rally public opinion against corrupt practices.  These institutions and organizations &quot;compete&quot; against abuse of governmental power and against each other, lessening risks that watchdogs themselves could be corrupted. </p> <p> Third, you called attention to demographic and health crises, including a declining population and virtual epidemics of cardiovascular disease, AIDS and TB.  These challenges may well prevent Russia from meeting your goals for labor supply and a healthy military corpus. </p> <p> Solving these problems will require systemic changes in diet, lessening the scourges of alcohol and smoking, and improving primary medical care and prevention.  Demographics and disease are a greater threat to Russia than any external enemy. </p> <p> Coercive, top-down approaches, as in <a href="http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&amp;SubjectID=1985drylaw&amp;Year=1985">the anti-alcohol campaign of the Gorbachev era</a>, ought to be avoided.  Building wide public support will be critical.  Hence, the government should rely mainly on public education, open discussion, greater investment in the health sector, and reform in the delivery of medical care with a new emphasis on prevention.   </p> <p> Greater openness to immigration from poorer neighboring countries is likely to be the only way a dynamic Russian economy can meet its labor needs.  It is time now to begin preparing your countrymen.  A continued pattern of overt, sometimes ugly, discrimination will only hurt Russia. </p> <p> Fourth, you are right to call for legislation to &quot;ensure comprehensive support for the spirit of innovation in all spheres of public life and the creation of a market in ideas, inventions, discoveries, and new technologies.&quot;  In Europe and America, generous government financing of research and development is paired with competitive, peer-reviewed mechanisms to allocate funding.  Keeping politics at bay in decision-making will help Russian science. </p> <p> Equally important is an economy which can quickly apply the fruits of research and development in innovative ways.  For example, nanotechnology researchers probably never dreamed their labors would lead so quickly to a product with such world-wide market penetration as the iPod. </p> <p> Fifth, your call for &quot;competition among open political associations&quot; is vitally important.  Independent political parties and free and fair elections would go a long way to enhance political stability, and lead to governments which expose and prosecute corruption irrespective of the political influence of perpetrators.  This is a great strength in the European and American political systems, buttressed by frequent alternations in political power. </p> <p> Some in Russia equate competitive politics with the &quot;chaos&quot; of the 1990s, and even the <a href="http://www.vor.ru/English/homeland/home_011.html">&quot;Time of Troubles&quot;</a> four centuries ago.  But history shows that political competition, as it develops, tends to marginalize extremist views.  This is sorely needed in Russia, as the wave of neo-Nazi criminal acts shows.  Competitive politics are what makes advanced democracies so stable.  Russians are well educated and more than ready for democracy. </p> <p> Finally, you speak of doing &quot;everything possible to normalize the life of people in the <a href="http://www.russiansabroad.com/russian_history_128.html">Russian Caucasus</a>.&quot;  Calming tensions there will require a secure environment, political openness, and better economic opportunities.  Multi-candidate elections, security without abuses, and improved agriculture will help a lot.  Moscow city authorities should crack down on the harassment of people from the Caucasus and Central Asia who sell in farmers markets. </p> <p> These are times of change in the world economy.  New creative and competitive energies will be released, and uneconomic activities will be punished by markets.  Economic and political reform can position Russia to take stronger advantage of the new opportunities. </p> <p> America and Europe not only wish Russia well in its reform effort, but believe they have a stake in its success.  A secure and prosperous Russia will be less likely to have conflicts with its neighbors, and be a valued economic partner and source of innovation and ideas from which the whole world will benefit.   </p> oD Russia oD Russia Russia russia & eurasia visions & reflections russia Denis Corboy William Courtney Kenneth Yalowitz Creative Commons normal email Politics Economy Internal Politics Mon, 21 Sep 2009 10:30:58 +0000 Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz 48666 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Beware Russia’s three tinderboxes https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/beware-russia-s-three-tinderboxes <p> <span class="pullquote_new">Denis Corboy is director of the Caucasus Policy Institute at Kings College London and was European Commission ambassador to Georgia and Armenia. William Courtney was U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia. Kenneth Yalowitz is director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and was U.S. ambassador to Belarus and Georgia.</span> </p> <p> The United States and Europe now face triple-barreled security challenges from Russia - its growing pressure on Georgia and Ukraine, and spiraling terrorism and repression in its Muslim-dominated North Caucasus region. Russia&#39;s muscular approach could ignite sparks in any one of the three confrontations, leading to  wider instability.  The West cannot stop Russia from harming itself, but it needs to prepare for and seek to avert dangerous Russian overreach.  The upcoming <a href="http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/imported/swedes-prepare-for-extra-eu-summit-in-september/65627.aspx">EU</a> and <a href="http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/">G20</a> Summits should urgently address ways to do this. </p> <p> The most serious Russian challenges in the near abroad are directed at Georgia and Ukraine, two countries which seek EU and <a href="http://www.nato.int/docu/update/2008/04-april/e0403h.html">NATO membership</a> and have some form of democracy. </p> <p> Russia continues to stoke tensions along the cease fire line of the August 2008 war in Georgia and its separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Moscow refuses to comply with the ceasefire and is slowly annexing these regions. Prime Minister <a href="/article/email/independent-abkhazia-one-year-on">Putin recently visited Abkhazia</a> and pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to bolster military and border facilities. </p> <p> Russia is trying to provoke Ukrainian leaders, as they did Georgian leaders prior to the calamitous war against Georgia a year ago. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/opinion/21iht-edrumer.html">On August 11, President Medvedev wrote Ukrainian President Yushchenko</a> and smugly predicted that &quot;new times will come,&quot;a clear reference to Ukraine&#39;s presidential elections in January. Medvedev accused Ukraine&#39;s government of &quot;distorting&quot; history regarding Stalin&#39;s artificial <a href="http://www.faminegenocide.com/resources/causes.html">famine in the early 1930s</a>, and &quot;obstructing&quot; <a href="http://flot.sevastopol.info/eng/ship/today.htm">Russia&#39;s Black Sea Fleet</a>, based in Sevastopol, in Ukraine&#39;s Crimean region. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, a Kremlin favorite, recently provoked Ukrainians by asserting that they and Russians are &quot;one and the same people.&quot; The Russians are also smarting over Ukraine&#39;s policies to promote use of Ukrainian language vice Russian. </p> <p> Russia&#39;s overbearing tactics are often unproductive.  Its neighbors refuse to recognize the &quot;independence&quot; of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/world/europe/03russia.html?_r=2&amp;ref=global-home">Belarus and Uzbekistan have declined to join a regional &quot;rapid reaction&quot; force</a> to be based in Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus is seemingly more open to improved ties with the US and EU.  In April, Turkmenistan blamed Russia for a mysterious gas pipeline explosion and at long last pledged to ship gas through the planned, Western-backed Nabucco gas pipeline to Europe. </p> <p> <em>North Caucasus</em> </p> <p> Terrorism, repression, poverty, and clan rivalries in the Muslim North Caucasus pose the third challenge.  The brutal subjugation of Chechnya in two separatist wars since the early 1990s has caused widespread alienation.  Human rights activists, journalists, and political opponents of Chechen leader <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/17/world/fg-kadyrov17">Ramzan Kadyrov</a> are murdered with shocking frequency.  Attacks against police forces, known for corruption and torture of prisoners, are steadily mounting.  Spreading <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8201054.stm">violence in Dagestan</a> is particularly worrisome.  With two-and-one-half million residents from thirty-odd ethnic groups, it is much more populous than Chechnya and lies on Azerbaijan&#39;s northern border. </p> <p> Moscow&#39;s appointed leader in <a href="/article/email/ingushetia-abandoned">Ingushetia</a>, a former paratroop general, seems unable to quell violence.  Indeed, in June he was wounded in a terrorist attack.  After a suicide bomb attack this month in Nazran which claimed twenty-five lives, the Kremlin dispatched a battle-hardened KGB veteran to restore order.  Medvedev has called for terrorists to be &quot;liquidated without emotion,&quot; and for an end to jury trials for them. </p> <p> Yet he may recognize that force alone is not enough.  In an implicit rebuke to former President and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has masterminded the <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/chechnya2.htm">second war in Chechnya which began in 1999</a>, Medvedev lamented  that &quot;some time ago we got the impression&quot; that the terrorist situation in the Caucasus &quot;had improved.&quot;  In fact, Russia&#39;s emplacement of local warlords in positions of control in the North Caucasus, allied with Russian security services, has made the region dangerously ungovernable with potentially disastrous consequences for the Russian Federation itself. </p> <p> The immediate security concern for the West is Moscow&#39;s ambition for control over its neighbors and propensity to threaten or use force to get its way.  US and European leaders have already conveyed frank concerns to their Russian counterparts. Ill-considered use of force could spark wider conflagration.   As during the second Chechen war, Russia may charge that Georgia or Azerbaijan is aiding terrorists in the North Caucasus by not interdicting arms flows or by offering safe havens, and threaten to extend the hostilities into these countries. </p> <p> <em>What the West should do</em> </p> <p> A better institutional framework for security in Europe and Eurasia could help defuse strains.  A key hindrance is that the governing security architecture has not changed since the Yeltsin era, when Russia was less muscular and sought equality and democratic legitimacy. </p> <p> Russia is now stronger and more assertive.  It has used its veto to impede the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from fostering democracy in the East or criticizing official abuses in the North Caucasus, and to force an end to its mission in Georgia.  Moscow has also used its <a href="http://en.rian.ru/world/20090616/155262319.html">UN Security Council veto to oust UN peacekeeping monitors from Abkhazia</a>. </p> <p> In its dialogue with Russian leaders, NATO must address how to help Russia&#39;s neighbors abate threats and pressures and how to encourage Moscow to pursue peaceful accommodation in the North Caucasus.  Especially since state-controlled media constantly portray America and NATO as threats, the <a href="http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_51105.htm">NATO-Russian Council</a> will likely have limited utility.  Although Moscow now <a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/03/russia-allow-us-arms-shipments-afghanistan/">allows land transit of non-lethal items for NATO in Afghanistan</a>, it has its own interests in defeating Islamic extremism and enhancing NATO dependence on Russia. </p> <p> In Georgia, as in Kosovo earlier, the EU is taking over former OSCE roles which Russia has precluded.  The<a href="http://www.amnesty-eu.org/static/html/pressrelease.asp?cfid=12&amp;id=419&amp;cat=4"> EU Monitoring Mission for Abkhazia</a> and South Ossetia ought to be expanded to include US, Canadian and other participants.  More resources should be devoted to observing unfolding events in the North Caucasus and assessing their risks. </p> <p> Georgia and other neighbors of Russia need to develop territorial defense strategies, with substantial training and advisory help.  Decisions on providing defensive military equipment should depend on military risk. </p> <p> These steps could be accompanied by an offer to explore with Russia what it means by &quot;privileged interests&quot; in neighboring countries, how Russian activities accord with its OSCE obligations, and what security assistance NATO might provide should a neighboring country come under threat.  Transparency with Russia and its neighbors about Western policy is fundamental to building a more secure future. </p> <p> To undergird a more effective security architecture, the EU and the US should increase programs to build democracy and promote inter-ethnic tolerance.  The EU should expand free trade and visa-free travel with key Eastern partners.  More international media attention should be given to the North Caucasus, Russia&#39;s neighbors, and Russia itself. </p> <p> It will be difficult to help Russia deal more effectively with its own problems in the North Caucasus.  Russia needs new political, economic, and social strategies to address underlying problems.  In addressing violence in the North Caucasus, heads of state agreed in the <a href="http://www.osce.org/item/15853.html">1999 OSCE Summit Declaration</a> that it was &quot;important to alleviate the hardships of the civilian population&quot; and that a &quot;political solution is essential.&quot;  These priorities are just as compelling today.  Europe and the US should exercise leadership in the EU and G20 meetings on aid to NGO&#39;s and humanitarian aid in the North Caucasus. </p> <p> These actions, if carried out openly, will help Russia and its neighbors foster reform and political accommodation for a more secure future.  Georgia and Ukraine ought to take conciliatory steps as well.  They should exercise caution in taking actions which might provoke sharp Russian responses, such as <a href="http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=21405">interdicting ships bound for ports in Abkhazia</a> or Russian military trucks traveling on public roads in Crimea. </p> <p> When Russian forces alongside Chechen irregulars invaded Abkhazia in the early 1990s, Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze warned Russian President Yeltsin that igniting separatism in Georgia would come back to haunt Russia in the North Caucasus.  He was right.  The three tinderboxes pose new risks to Western security. They deserve new priority and a broader perspective to keep the peace. </p> oD Russia oD Russia russia & eurasia russia Denis Corboy William Courtney Kenneth Yalowitz Creative Commons normal email Foreign Relations Foreign Tue, 01 Sep 2009 14:05:21 +0000 Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz 48565 at https://www.opendemocracy.net