Security assistance and border management
The European Union’s (EU) Strategy for a New Partnership declares Central Asia’s security as one of its key interests, along with the region’s stability, economic prosperity, democratization and inter-state cooperation. The Union’s approach is focused on ‘combating common threats and challenges’, which are identified as organized crime, drug trafficking, illegal migration and porous borders (European Union 2007: 27). In short, the EU has attempted to pursue ‘comprehensive security’ (Moschini 2008) in its assistance to Central Asia. However, actions undertaken by the EU in the politico-security sphere have to date focused almost exclusively on border management, with the Border Management in Central Asia (BOMCA) programme as its flagship initiative. This chapter argues that the EU’s increasing focus on border issues in Central Asia is founded upon the global and internal contexts of the EU itself rather than the situation in the region. It is according to this very self-referential process that threats are identified which, in crossing Central Asian borders, are perceived to directly menace Europe. This approach may hinder the achievement of the EU’s stated broader objectives in the region. Securitizing borders and pushing for increased border controls works against the objectives of the EU’s economic reform and democracy promotion framework,1 since it resources authoritarian regimes and harms the human security of borderlands population. This fortifies Central Asian regimes’ domination of their societies and, in turn, may increase the clandestine resistance which they face. We elaborate our argument over three sections. First, we introduce EU security assistance to Central Asia in terms of its global, European and Central Asian contexts, focusing in particular on the EU’s special interest in border management. Second, we discuss EU border management assistance in terms of its strategic, financial and programmatic aspects. Finally, we assess the impact of EU assistance and its future prospects in the region.