Security Issues in Eurasia
26 September 2004 | Hratch Tchilingirian, Cambridge
The end of the Soviet Union triggered major political, ideological, territorial, military, economic, social and cultural transitions in a vast geographic area, which has come to be known as Eurasia. This resource rich and increasingly significant region extends from eastern China to the borders of Europe and the Middle East.
While relatively unknown in Soviet times, new sovereign states that emerged from the collapse of the USSR have gained considerable prominence, especially due to large natural and energy resources. For instance, there is growing commercial and geostrategic interest in Central Asia and the Caucasus (the Caspian basin), especially by the US and Europe.
However, the region is affected and influenced by major international, regional and local security issues. There are growing political, military and wider security problems. Indeed, in recent years, the more active US engagement in Central Asia and the Caucasus and the involvement of a number of European and Asian countries in regional affairs have further complicated the security situation.
In the post 9/11 world, the challenges of security in the Eurasia region are not only significant to millions of people living in the region, but also for the larger international community. The events and experience of the last decade have shown that security and issues of prosperity are interlinked. Indeed, physical security and protection cannot be addressed in isolation. Political stability, economic reforms, distribution of wealth and the rule of law are essential pillars in a new “security architecture” that ought to be forged in this region.
Against this background, there are a number of critical security issues that need continued attention and solution, among them: unresolved territorial and ethnic conflicts (e.g., Karabakh, Abkhazia, Chechnya); international terrorism / radical religious fundamentalism; Corruption and economic disparity; Problems of political and state leadership and social expectations; Environmental issues.
At least three broader and important processes in the region need to be considered when addressing security issues:
1. The dire socio-economic situation that these newly independent states and their societies are faced with;
2. The existing internal political situation in the various states of the region and its potential consequences and flashpoints, along with the lack of strong state infrastructure;
3. The external political, economic and military pressures facing these states and the increasing geostrategic interests of the regional and international players.
It is clear that complex security issues and regional relations, interests and expectations require complex, long-term policy approaches and formulations that would actively involve, in a coordinated manner, not only NATO, but other multi-national organisations and institutions as well. The role of international financial institutions, international aid and investments are crucial.