Thanks to a generous grant by the Visegrad Fund, the Center for Central Asia Research of Budapest Corvinus University is launching a project to develop a joint strategy allowing V4 countries to take full advantage of trade and investment opportunities offered by the on-going geopolitical and geoeconomic changes in Central Asia.
The on-going fundamental geopolitical, geoeconomic , social, political and economic transformations in the region of Central Asia as well as in its individual countries create new opportunities and challenges for the Visegrad4 countries. Once a far-away, under-developed, land-locked backwater of the former Soviet space, Central Asia is on its way to become a key transport hub and supplier of energy resources, minerals and agricultural commodities for the countries of the Eurasian super-continent. China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) project is creating a vast transport infrastructure that will connect the region with world markets, drastically reducing the presently prohibitively high transport costs. These deep-going changes offer the V4 countries new opportunities for investment and the rapid broadening of trade and economic relations. Thanks to their geographic situation, V4 countries are well-positioned to take advantage of the emerging business opportunities offered by infrastructure development and related projects.
At the same time, the Central Asian region faces a multitude of security challenges. The spread of religious extremism, organised crime, poor governance, endemic corruption and the impact of the protracted crisis in Afghanistan could undermine ambitious development plans and destabilise the region. Some security challenges pose a direct or indirect threat to the security and economic interests of neighbouring regions too. The security of Europe would be negatively affected if the arch of instability and conflict stretching from North-Africa through the Persian Gulf to Pakistan and Afghanistan would spread further end engulf Central Asia.
To take full advantage of new economic opportunities and address looming security challenges V4 countries need to strengthen their research capacity. This can be achieved the most rapidly and efficiently by pooling resources through informal cooperation among their research establishments. At present research institutes and think-tanks of individual V4 countries dealing with Central Asia lack the capacity and resources to provide comprehensive decision support to governments and the private sector in the form of applied research. Developing a shared analysis of the opportunities and challenges brought about by the on-going geopolitical and geoeconomic transformations in Central Asia could be the first step towards working together in a more coordinated fashion.
The Center for Central Asia Research, with the support of the Hungarian Chairmanship of the Visegrad4 is going to organize two workshops with the participation of researchers from V4 countries with the objective of promoting closer cooperation among research institutes and think-tanks. The project is expected to strengthen the ability of the research community to formulate and help promote specific economic interest of V4 countries. At the same time, the project will help elevate the role of Visegrad countries in the elaboration and effective implementation of the new Central Asia Strategy of the EU, to be adopted in 2020. The project will identify areas where V4 countries can offer specific added value, like sharing the experience of political and economic transition that would help Central Asian countries to strengthen good governance and establish a relationship of trust and closer cooperation with V4 countries.
The project supports efforts by the Hungarian V4 Chairmanship to strengthen economic and political relations between the V4 countries and Central Asia. It will develop a capacity by research institutes and think-tanks to provide governments and the private sector with good quality decision-support. This project will strengthen the ability of V4 countries to conduct a coordinated, effective and pro-active foreign, economic and security policy in Central Asia.