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Central Asia – National Interests and Regional Prospects

Johannes F. Linn

Introduction

Central Asia is one of the pivotal regions of the world. It is located at the core of the Eurasian continental space and represents a critical connection between the large and dynamic continental economies – China, the European Union, India, Japan and Russia. The Central Asian countries with their large natural and human resources face both an opportunity and a challenge as the Eurasian economic space is now rapidly integrating as part of a new phase of global integration.2 This note reviews the national interests of key countries inside and outside the region and how they determine the prospects of Central Asia in successfully integrating into the Eurasian and world economy. A full exploration of these interests goes beyond the scope of the paper.3 Hence, I will summarize here only some key elements that appear to be particularly relevant for the future of the region. I will focus on four sets of actors: (1) the countries in the region; (2) the principal neighbors, China and Russia4; (3) other key partners, the EU and the U.S.; and (4) the international institutions (UN agencies and the International Financial Institutions, in particular the Asian Development Bank, EBRD, IMF and the World Bank).

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