06/10 15:03

Kyrgyzstan and the Great Silk Road: compatibility of concepts

Kyrgyzstan and the Great Silk Road: compatibility of concepts

In the light of globalization, the post-Soviet space, which since ancient times serves as a link between the two continents - Europe and Asia, becomes the most attractive platform for the implementation of integration mega-projects. The initiators of such projects are geopolitical players, representing the largest economies in the world - the United States, China and Russia. The American concept of the New Silk Road, in contrast to Eurasian integration is progressing very slowly, and concerns Kyrgyzstan only in terms of construction of a high-voltage power line CASA-1000, which will connect the electricity producers of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Russian project of regional integration has found its real embodiment in the Customs Union to be transformed into the Eurasian Economic Union, the member of which Kyrgyzstan aims to be. China also declared its ambitious idea of recreating the Great Silk Road, which would connect Europe and Asia, and would contribute to the economic development of all countries along the ancient trade route. At the same time, Russia and China are major trade and economic partners in the region.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping told about the Silk Road Economic Belt for the first time in Astana at the University of Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2013 during the September visit to Central Asia, which was called historic in the Chinese press. Xi Jinping’s this diplomatic trip can be considered as a first step towards implementation of the ambitious plans of China to connect the two continents by trade routes, a kind of platform for preparation of the mega-project. The fact that during the trip to four countries it was signed contracts totaling more than $ 60 billion indicates to this.

Thus, for example, 31 agreements were signed in Uzbekistan for $ 15.5 billion, in Turkmenistan - 8 agreements for $ 7.6 billion. In Kazakhstan, it is worth noting a deal with the Kazakh oil company, which develops one of the fields in the Caspian Sea, in the amount of $ 5 billion. In Kyrgyzstan, the parties signed a declaration on strategic partnership and 8 agreements for $ 5 billion, including the modernization of thermal power station in Bishkek ($ 390 million), the construction of an alternative road North-South ($ 850 million) and the laying of the pipeline, which will pass along the route Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan – China. 

All the countries in the region have unanimously have supported the initiative of the Chinese leader to expand trade and the development of national economy, using the transit potential and foreign investments, as China can assist Central Asian countries in rehabilitation and construction of roads and railways to Europe. The benefit is so obvious that Astana even offered additional project "Kazakhstan - New Silk Road", to turn the republic into a major transit hub in the region, increasing the volume of transit traffic in two and a half times. The project is profitable for Europe also. It can get cheaper goods from eastern and south-eastern Asia, as transport costs reduce.

Kyrgyzstan is one of the first officially confirmed the country's active participation in the revival of the Great Silk Road, President Almazbek Atambayev told about it during his visit to China in May 2014. Of course, the economic benefit for all countries in the region is obvious, but it is not the only and the main component of the initiative of Beijing. Chinese experts think that, the project is not aimed at achieving specific economic or political dividends, but the formation in the region between the states the close complex relations in economic, political and humanitarian fields. At the same time, as they say, the Silk Road Economic Belt is quite able to interact with the Customs Union, and then with the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as with other regional integration formations. 

Indeed, two largest investors in the region - China and Russia, in cooperation with whom almost all the countries of Central Asia are interested, implement geo-economic concepts that do not contradict and compete, but on the contrary, quite combine, fit together and even complement each other. Thus, for example, Russian officials are already talking about the possible use of sea routes, which may also play an important role in expanding trade cooperation between the two continents. Following the expansion of Russian Northern Sea Route trade transportation will become more comfortable, and this will be an additional opportunity for trade, a kind of marine Silk Road. I.e. no opposition, but on the contrary, the coincidence of objectives, possibility of interaction and expanding cooperation.

Kyrgyzstan is also of such opinion. Minister of Economic Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic Temir Sariev during the International Forum "The Silk Road Economic Belt in the context of the Kyrgyz-Chinese cooperation" held in Bishkek in July, has publicly stated that the project is not an alternative to the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, and can be combined with all of them. "Today, in the age of globalization, in the age of the dynamic development of integration processes between countries and entire regions, the implementation of the idea of revival of the Great Silk Road, no doubt, serve the cause of peace and stability," said Sariev. 

By the way, Kyrgyzstan actively takes part in discussion of the project at various international forums, many of which take place in our country. Thus, the initiative to establish the Silk Road Economic Belt was discussed in Bishkek in June at the IX Forum of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, "Contemporary Challenges to economic development of the SCO". Experts of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, shared their views on the proposal to revive one of the most famous trade routes of the past, and also spoke about the problems of compatibility of the new project with ideas of Eurasian integration.

Secretary General of the SCO Mezentsev said that the SCO supported the Chinese proposal to establish Silk Road Economic Belt. He believes. He believes that, the project could be an important factor in the promotion of trade and economic cooperation between the countries of the region. "It should provide new jobs and contribute to the development of national infrastructures, to promote the national retail markets," Mezentsev said. 

In August, Kyrgyzstan hosted the Economic Forum "Issyk-Kul-2014", which took place in the framework of the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and gathered scientists, experts, officials, business representatives and civil society organizations from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and China. Except for the issues of international relations, the participants of the forum discussed prospects for trade and economic cooperation between the countries located on the Silk Road. 

Besides, in June this year Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor was added to the World Heritage List by the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee. China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan had jointly applied for the cultural site to be included. Given the fact that Beijing has already involved in implementation of major infrastructure projects in the country, such as the rehabilitation of the road "Bishkek-Naryn-Torugart", linking Kyrgyzstan and China, with a total investment of $ 600 million and the construction of the road, "North-South" with an estimated cost of $ 850 million, we can say that the first steps to revive the Silk Road is made in Kyrgyzstan.

Mirlan Alymbekov,



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