Central Asian Leaders Meet In Kyrgyzstan Amid Concerns Over War In Ukraine, Economic Issues

4 weeks ago tngadmin Comments Off on Central Asian Leaders Meet In Kyrgyzstan Amid Concerns Over War In Ukraine, Economic Issues

The leaders of five Central Asian nations are set to begin a meeting in the Kyrgyz resort town of Cholpon-Ata to discuss economic and political cooperation after recent unrest in the region and moves by Moscow to increase Russia's influence in the former Soviet republics.

On June 20, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov met with foreign ministers Vladimir Norov of Uzbekistan, Sirojiddin Muhriddin of Tajikistan, and Mukhtar Tileuberdi of Kazakhstan and Turkmen Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Shadurdy Meredov to discuss the agenda of the upcoming summit.

The Kyrgyz presidential press service said that the main part of the summit will be held on July 21.

Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev arrived in Kyrgyzstan on July 20.

The summit is the first meeting of heads of state in the region since Russia -- which is not a participant in the talks -- launched its invasion of Ukraine five months ago.

While previous summits have produced general agreements on cooperation but little else, analysts say this year's edition is "very important" for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, all of which have seen social unrest in the past two years, as well as Turkmenistan.

Meanwhile, the cost of living is on the rise in the region, with the situation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, severe droughts, supply issues, and the war in Ukraine.

"I think Central Asian countries are now realizing that they would be stronger if they worked together, especially in their relations with Russia, China, and the United States...I think the war in Ukraine has demonstrated...how difficult it is to cooperate with Russia... The countries in the [Central Asian] region feel themselves very vulnerable," Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society, told RFE/RL.

Many experts who talked to RFE/RL said they believe the five presidents will also touch on such issues as the Taliban's takeover in neighboring Afghanistan, January anti-government protests that left 232 people dead in Kazakhstan, as well as recent deadly unrest in Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region and Uzbekistan's Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.