The EU and Central Asian geopolitics
The first prominent example of strategic rivalry in Central Asia – often referred to as the ‘Great Game’ – dates back to the nineteenth century when the expansionist policy of Russian tsars began to threaten the jewel of the British crown, India. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, soon talk of a ‘New Great Game’ came up. At first, the term stood for the competition of international energy consortia for the region’s huge oil and gas resources. However, it did not take long before it symbolized the increasing rivalry for influence between various regional and global actors, in particular Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the United States (US) (Edwards 2003). Since the European Union’s (EU) new Central Asia Strategy marks a significant increase of attention and resources allocated to the region, two questions arise. First, how is this upgrade of engagement perceived by the established powers in the region? And second, is the EU’s Central Asia Strategy compatible with the interests of these actors or do the EU’s policies run the risk of obstruction?