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35 3 Western Perspectives on Democracy in Central Asia The United States and the European Union quickly established diplomatic relations with all the Central Asian republics that emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union. Initially, however, Central Asia was of little relevance to them. The EU was preoccupied with more urgent priorities, such as the Balkans, for much of the 1990s. With the exception of Kazakhstan, whose natural resources were immediately attractive to Western companies , Central Asia commanded little interest in the West. Washington did, however, engage Astana in an effort to secure opportunities for US energy companies, and the US government also assisted Kazakhstan in its denuclearization and the safe disarming of nuclear weapons inherited from the USSR.1 The lack of robust American and European interest in Central Asia encouraged a variety of smaller external actors to enter the region. Western -sponsored foundations and NGOs used this window of opportunity to pursue a range of liberalization and democracy enhancement projects similar to those they had introduced in other former Soviet territories. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also became heavily involved in advising all the Central Asian governments on the macro-level reforms required for rapid economic liberalization. The United States and the EU funded many projects initiated by civil society actors seeking to construct new democratic institutions in the Central Asian states. In the United States, Congress passed the Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Markets (FREEDOM ) Support Act (FSA) in 1992. In addition to a series of bilateral treaties between the US government and individual Central Asian republics, the FSA formalized US assistance for democratization and economic liberalization in the former Soviet countries (see table 3.1 for an overview of total FSA expenditures in Central Asia). Throughout the two decades 36   Democracy in Central Asia of democracy assistance in the region, US-funded democracy projects have been administered mainly through USAID and its contractor agencies and grantees—Freedom House, the International Research and Education Board (IREX), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Counterpart Consortium. These and other agencies have actively promoted civil society and media freedom in the region since the mid-1990s. USAID projects have focused almost exclusively on building democratic institutions and enhancing their capacity. For instance, to facilitate citizen participation in governmentdecisionmaking,ithassupportedthecreationofNGOs;tofoster more responsive government, it has promoted elections, the legislative branch, and an independent judiciary. The commitment to strengthening democratic and free-market institutions in the Central Asian republics was restated in the National Security Strategy for a New Century, approved by the Clinton administration in 1999; this was also the basis for the George W. Bush administration’s initial foreign policy toward Central Asia. Although the post-Soviet states received the bulk of US nonmilitary assistance in the 1990s, democracy assistance was negligible compared with other forms of economic and security support. Considerably more Table 3.1. US Bilateral Assistance to Former Soviet Republics, 1992–2006 Total* ($ million) FSA ($ million) Democracy Assistance ($ million) Armenia 1,717 1,222 234 Azerbaijan 663 403 130 Belarus 458 134 114 Georgia 1,676 951 175 Kazakhstan 1,268 632 162 Kyrgyzstan 842 468 133 Moldova 701 408 87 Russia 14,885 3,423 1,124 Tajikistan 711 253 75 Turkmenistan 270 113 47 Ukraine 3,764 2,442 600 Uzbekistan 806 436 144 Total 27,761 10,885 3,024 * This total is the sum of assistance provided under the Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and Open Markets Support Act (FSA) and non-FSA assistance. Data are from the annual report prepared by the State Department’s Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, as reported in Sada Aksartova, “What Does US Assistance for Eurasia Have to Do with Foreign Aid?” Global Studies Review 4, no. 2 (2008), http://www. globality-gmu.net/archives/608 (accessed 3 June 2013). Western Perspectives on Democracy in Central Asia  37 resources were allocated for economic liberalization reforms, including quick privatization of the industrial sector, commercial law development, and the establishment of a capital market. This trend remained throughout the 2000s, when the overall amount of US assistance to Central Asia increased following the inception of the US-led war on terror (see table 3.2). The share of military aid to Central Asia has risen from around 5 percent of the total US aid package throughout the 1990s to more than 30 percent since 2007.2 The European Union took a wait...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813160696
Related ISBN
9780813160689
MARC Record
OCLC
910326297
Pages
232
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-29
Language
English
Open Access
No
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