The completion of Eurasia
Jointly organized by Lexfeim Research Centre, the Sefacil Foundation, France and the Department of International Relations, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, the French University of Le Havre (ULH) hosted a conference on the topic of “Completion of Eurasia” on 11 and 12 of May 2022.
The idea of Eurasia encompasses the arbitrary division between Asia and Europe because of the differences in their social, political, cultural and economic development that need to be overcome acknowledging the unity of this largest landmass.
After all, only 130 miles of the Ural Mountains divides the biggest landmass in the world. Looking east instead of looking west seems to be a hurdle too steep for Europe to take.
The current war between Russia and Ukraine is certainly strengthening Europe’s reluctance to warm to the idea.
The series of conferences and publications over the years debated firstly the idea of “institutionalization of regions”.
A second topic covered policies of regional cooperation, while the third topic was dedicated to competition among regions, the fourth focused on limits of regions and the fifth conference asked whether regions can really understand each other and only the term “Eurasia” was introduced.
The sixth and seventh editions dealt with Eurasian flows across borders and on changing Eurasian values.
The time is now right for (re)-appraising the new continent-in-making in the eighth edition conference which explored a concentration of diverse – yet equally pressing – issues chaired by a blend of academics, practitioners and well-established analysts within the international community.
More than 44 participants from 19 countries, included a strong presence of Kazakh and other Central Asian scholars, some from China, Mongolia, Russia, two from India, one Afghan and 4 Pakistanis.
Aisha Farooqui, Coordinator for SCO at MOFA Pakistan spoke virtually at the opening.
I am personally grateful to HE Yves Manville, Deputy Head of Mission of France in Pakistan for including me in the programme.
The opening included welcoming words by our wonderful host Dr Pierre Chabal of Le Havre University and Founder of the Europe-Asia Conferences, and Ambassador Sandor Rustambaev, Uzbekistan, Aisha Farooqui, DG SCO Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Pakistan (online), Dr.
Yaan Alix Foundation Cefacil (online), Professor Archana Upadhyay Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (online), Professor Kuralay Baizakova, Al Farabi Kazakh National University.
I want to mention with admiration that Dr. Chabal met me himself at Gare Le Havre and helped me with my bags to the nearby hotel. For me this was a “first”, to have the host himself receive me. Without doubt that personal touch made my conference successful immediately!
Session 1 covered “organizational and diplomatic competition” with the Chair Kuralay Baizakova, Kaznu, Almaty and Richard Balme, IEP CEE, Paris.
Kuralay Baizakova described “preventing threats of terrorism and religious extremism in Central Asia and European countries”.
Mirzohid Rakhimov, Uzbek Science Academy, Tashkent covered “Multilateral relations in CA and perspectives”.
Fatima Kukeyeve, Kaznu, Almaty “foreign policies in transition”: Aliya Akatayeva spoke on Reciprocal challenges for the SCO and Eurasia in mutual globalization, Lu Xiz, Xiamen University PRC shed light on “the impact of the US post-cold war regional policies in Eurasia” and Jildiz Nicharapova, AUCA, Bishkek membership of a Eurasian organization affects sub-regional actors: the case of Kyrgyzstan in the EAEU”.
Saniya Nurdavletova Gumilev University, Nursultan/Astana spoke on “China’s “BRI Soft Power” as a means to enhance regional security”, Dildora Khodjaeva TSUE, Tashkent articulated on “cultural diplomacy: building bridges between Central and South Asia”, Nargiza Muratalieva, Krsu Bishkek spoke about “Central Asian perceptions of the Chinese factor”, Yekaterina Kassymova PHD candidate, INALCO, Paris dwelt upon “building Central Eurasia “softly” Sebastien Peyrouse covered Developing Eurasia”, Hassan Ahmad, AK Group Lahore, Pakistan spoke about Eurasian trade and CPEC”, Yann Alix, Seafacil Foundation on “Enhanced transport-lanes in the renewed BRI”, Nosgoi Altantsetseg, NUM, Mongolia spoke about “Mongolians Partnership with China: Ulaanbaatar’s Eurasian policy and the Silk Road”, Gulnara Baikushikova, Kaznu, Almaty on “cooperating over water in Eurasia: the EU and Central Asia”, Kairat Bekov, Kaznu, Almaty spoke on the political effects of broadband satellite internet for Eurasian powers, Aida Serikova, Bocconi University, Milan “the role of the FDI in the economic development of emerging countries: the case of Kazakhstan”, Col Boubacar Diallo, Phd student Le Havre University, dwelt upon “the regional military capacity: comparing Central Asia with West Africa”.
Moderated by S Kakakhel, Analyst from Pakistan Parliament, Session 3 discussed “grasping the concept of Eurasia in academia”.
Chairs were Sebastian Santander, Liege University and Yves Manville, French Embassy Islamabad. In my turn I spoke on “Towards a Contemporary Eurasian Identity?
”, followed by Duman Zhekenov, Kaznu, Almaty speaking about a “New Enlightenment for Central Asian countries”: Philippe Gast of Le Havre University, “complementarily of historical visions, competition of geo-cultural projects or conflict of powers today” Violeta Puscasu, Galati University about “Eurasia as a ‘multi-speed’ concept – a geographical approach“, Klara Makasheva, Kaznu Almaty, then deliberated upon “neo-Eurasian concept in post-soviet space”, followed by Esra LaGro, CIRP, Istanbul about “Competing and converging interests of Russia and Turkey?
”, Her grasp of statistics were truly amazing! Asiya Kuzembayeva Kaznu, Almaty then spoke about “building Eurasia while fostering a ‘youth policy’, Pierre Chabal of Le Havre University then discussed “pretending to make sense of a still-to-be-defined Eurasia?”
The topic of Session 4 was “Making sense of historic turns from 1991 to 2021” and Lucie France Dagenais, UQAM and Sebastien Peyrousse, Washington in the chair Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, former MP of Afghanistan spoke on “When Afghanistan ‘turns’: short vs long-term history” HE Yves Manville’s (from the French Embassy, Islamabad’s) contribution was “A special day in the history of Eurasia: Lucknow and the Qarakul, 15 October 1937”.
This was the Quaid wearing the Sherwani in a public meeting for the first time along with a Qarakuli cap, a remarkable indication of our identity with Central Asia by the future father of the nation!
What an amazing research by a diplomat about Pakistan! The impact of Iran’s eastern policy on the future regional equation of Eurasia Jahangir KARAMl, University of Tehran, “The Regional security complex in CA after the 2021 Taliban return to power in Afghanistan”, Akram UMAROV.UWED. Tashkent, “Central Asian connectivity through the prism of the Afghan conundrum” Zhulduz BAlZAKOVA.KazNU, Almaty, “C.A. and northern Afghanistan: interaction between economic and security spheres: consequences for Eurasia” Andrey KAZANTSEV, MGIMO, Moscow, “The consequences for Eurasia and Turkey) of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan” Esra LAGRO, CIRP, Istanbul, “Beyond Afghanistan – and its implications for American policy in the Eurasia region”, Aleksandra JARCZEWSKA. Warsaw University, “Making sense of CA in the new Eurasian realities (Afghanistan, EAEU …)” Aigul KAZHENOVA, Comenius University, Budapest, “Central Asia as the heart of New Great Silk Road”, Shekcr SAPAROVA, a PhD student.
Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, “Building Eurasia outside of Eurasia: Russia’s strategic interests in Southeast Asia and their implications for the EA.
EU & ASCAN within the Greater Eurasian Partnership”, Julien Paret, Jean-Paul Martirez, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Discussion: moderated by Dr N MURATALIEVA: editor, CABAR Central Asian Bureau.
Closing Session included remarks by Professor Jahangar KARAMI, Tehran University (online) (2) Professor Catherine POUJOL, INALCO, Paris, F.KUKEYEVA, B VASSORT-ROUSSET (online) described the next steps for 2023+: Then came Dr Pierre Chabal’s “looking ahead by France”.
In the face of pressing challenges and completely changed situation I believe alternative routes avoiding the straight ones to Europe through Russia already exist and can be upgraded at short notice and in quick time till sanity comes back.
As South Asians but also being part of the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and Central Asia, we in Pakistan are in a win-win situation being Eurasians in the real sense.
—The writer is a defence analyst and security expert