The New Great Game: Why European Union seeks to establish a foothold in Central Asia?

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The New Great Game: Why European Union seeks to establish a foothold in Central Asia?

As Moscow has shifted its attention away from Central Asia since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, the Europeans have evinced a growing desire to play an alternative role in the resource-rich Central Asia.

Joseph Burrell, who is at the helm of the EU's foreign policy, called for Western attention to the security of Central Asia. Connecting the northeast Chinese province of Xinjiang to Europe and saving Europe from the pressures of Russia with its abundant natural resources, Central Asia benefits from its proximity to China, the world powerhouse, on the one hand, and to rising world powers such as Russia and Iran, on the other.

In recent months, numerous Western officials and leaders have visited this region, including Burrell, the top diplomat of the European Union, who travelled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to meet with Central Asian foreign ministers and participate in a summit aimed at boosting bilateral relations.

Many observers concur that Joseph Burrell used this tour to strengthen ties between Europe and Russia's traditional allies and to minimize their decades-long ties with the Kremlin. After the success of the first Central Asia-European Union economic conference in May, the Europeans are eager to hold the second conference, hosted by Almaty, Kazakhstan, so that they can present their alluring proposals to the Central Asian countries.

As a consequence of these efforts, the European Commission recently announced that Kazakhstan and Brussels had reached an agreement for the extraction of hydrogen and rare earth metals from Kazakhstan's extensive resources. In view of the recent agreement, the Presidency of the European Commission has called Kazakhstan an "essential partner" of the European Union. To penetrate Russia's backyard, the European Union introduced a new programme dubbed "Sustainable Energy Connectivity in Central Asia" (SECCA), which ostensibly promotes environmental protection and renewable energy over the long term.

According to SECCA's preface, the project's objectives are to strengthen national policies for the transition to a sustainable energy system, encourage investment, and raise awareness of the region's renewable energies and energy efficiency. However, only a cursory examination of the objectives of such a project and the notorious history of Westerners engaging in similar projects reveals that such measures are nothing more than a means to acquire long-term influence in the targeted nations for the pursuit of unilateral and colonial goals.

Russia's strategy of employing energy as a pressure lever in its economic war with Europe prompted Europe to diversify its energy supplies from less-tapped regions, such as Central Asia.In addition, geopolitical competition among great powers can be cited as a reason for Europe's heightened interest in Central Asia. The European colonial powers have attempted to advance their geopolitical and geostrategic ambitions by allegedly extending support to smaller or weaker nations under the guise of pursuing human rights policies, establishing democracy, and assisting in the growth of education. However, they seek to increase pressure on their arch-rival, the Russian Federation, by finding new allies.

The current instability and predicament in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries are directly attributable to two decades of foolish Western policies and the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan, in which many EU members participated. The Europeans came to Afghanistan to support empty, albeit bombastic, slogans, similar to what we see today in Central Asia, but in fact they plundered a nation and finally left a war-ravaged nation—the anguished Afghans.


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