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Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs E. Jones, Testimony to Senate Subcommittee on Central Asia and the Caucasus, 13 December 2001
Our New Vision for Central Asia
Secretary Powell's visit to the region was a rousing success. He received a gratifying level of support and cooperation from our Central Asian partners. This is yet another sign of how the world has changed after September 11. And it underlines that our foreign policy must evolve to keep pace with this change. The stakes are undeniably high in Central Asia. In what only a decade ago was the Soviet Union, the United States now has thousands of U.S. military personnel working alongside their Central Asian counterparts. We rely on these governments for the security and well-being of our troops, and for vital intelligence that has helped us to conduct such an effective military campaign in Afghanistan.
The frontline states of the region provide a critical humanitarian corridor for food and emergency supplies that may save the lives of millions of people living in northern Afghanistan this winter. We will want the rising tide of reconstruction in Afghanistan to lift the Central Asian boats, too. We would like to see post-war reconstruction supplies and materials purchased, to the extent possible, in neighboring countries to buoy their economies.
Our country is now linked with this region in ways we could never have imagined before September 11. Our policy in Central Asia must include a commitment to deeper, more sustained, and better-coordinated engagement on the full range of issues upon which we agree and disagree. These include security cooperation, energy, and internal strengthening of these countries through political and economic reform. President Bush has invited both the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to Washington in the coming months as the centerpiece of this intensified engagement.
We have told the leaders of these countries that America will not forget in the future those who stand by us now. After this conflict is over, we will not abandon Central Asia. We are committed to providing the resources, the high-level attention, and the multinational coordination to support reform opportunities. We want to stand by the Central Asian countries in their struggle to reform their societies in the same way they have stood by us in the war on terrorism. This is not only a new relationship, but a long-term relationship.
This will require resources that must be tailored to each country. Uzbekistan has asked for guidance and support in its dealings with the International Monetary Fund and other international financial organizations. Kazakhstan needs more foreign investment and support for local private-sector development. Turkmenistan may need support for the development of grass roots organizations. Kyrgyzstan needs help with its debt burden. Tajikistan, the poorest state in the region and still recovering from civil war and drought, will need a broad range of humanitarian, economic, and political assistance. In all five countries, we need to expand our ongoing support for democratic political institutions, local non-governmental organizations, and independent media. We are ready to explore new areas of assistance for all five states, but only in exchange for demonstrated, concrete steps toward reform.
Promoting reform in Central Asia has not been easy. Today we are concentrating much of our assistance on programs that seek to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders in the region. You know these initiatives well. They include the high school-level FLEX program, Freedom Support Act program at the university level, and the graduate-level Muskie program. Further, the IREX exchange program targets young professionals, and the Peace Corps has a broad range of programs for the next generation. These programs look to the future by concentrating on the successor generations, and they are an integral part of our long-term commitment to Central Asia.
Promoting Longer-Term U.S. Interests
In addition to wanting these countries to become stable and prosperous,
we have three significant U.S. national interests in the region: preventing
the spread of terrorism, providing tools for political and economic reform
and institution of the rule of law, and ensuring the security and transparent
development of Caspian
The terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan reinforces our view
that underdevelopment and repressive, anti-democratic regimes provide conditions
that terrorists and other extremists exploit. We have been working on counterterrorism
with states in the region, but we must do more in parallel with our emphasis
on respect for
An inextricable component of a more secure and prosperous Central Asia is an investment and legal climate that will both fuel local economic development and protect the interests of U.S. traders and investors. Property rights, privatization, due process, rule of law, currency convertibility, bank and tax reform all contribute to the security of investments and individuals in Central Asia -- the foundation of a stable economy and just society. We are investing heavily in efforts to promote this kind of reform throughout the region.
Development of the vast Caspian energy reserves and their reliable export to global markets will in large part determine the ability of Central Asia to achieve economic independence and improve the standard of living of its citizens. Ensuring this autonomy for the Caspian states, as well as diversifying global energy supplies and creating opportunities for U.S. expertise and investment, make the development of Caspian energy an important U.S. interest as well. Our policy in this area has focused on enabling these states to develop multiple and reliable transport corridors for delivery of these resources to global markets.
Currently these hydrocarbon resources reach the West via pipelines that transit Russia. We seek to broaden export options for the countries of Central Asia and the companies operating there. Our objective is therefore anti-monopoly but not anti-Russian. We have supported and facilitated the efforts of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia to reach agreement with private companies to build pipelines from the Caspian Sea across the Caucasus to Turkey. I am proud to say that construction of the landmark Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline will begin this summer and will bring oil to world markets in 2005. The Shah Deniz gas pipeline, paralleling BTC, is also on track. I am also pleased that the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, or CPC Pipeline, is also now officially operating. This pipeline, which links Kazakhstan to global markets via Russia, underscores the desire to work in partnership with the former Soviet nations, developing Caspian energy.
A New Partnership with Russia
One of the most remarkable developments of the last three months has been our extraordinary cooperation with Russia in a region that was formerly part of the Soviet Union and that Russia naturally regards as its own backyard.
On October 19, we conducted our first-ever United States-Russia consultations on Central Asia. We were both pleasantly surprised and gratified by the convergence of interests in this region. We both desire long-term stability and prosperity in Central Asia, where we both have important interests. And we have pledged transparency and collaboration. Secretary Powell's conversations in Central Asia and Moscow over the past few days were part of this new effort, and demonstrate [that] there need be no tension between our support for the sovereignty and independence of the Central Asian states and our desire for broader and deeper cooperation with Russia.
Presidents Bush and Putin are leading our countries to a new level of
cooperation in many spheres, including in Central Asia. President Putin
has shown noteworthy leadership in the way he has actively coordinated
with Central Asian leaders to encourage their cooperation with the United
States in the battle against terrorism. This supports what we have long
said: that Central Asia is not a zero-sum game. We have no desire to replay
the nineteenth century "Great Game" in the twenty-first. We have offered
support to efforts by Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to foster a new
Caspian Sea delimitation scheme, as long as these efforts do not hinder
the future transport of energy resources. Our shared interests with Russia
-- indeed, with the other regional powers of China, Turkey and even Iran
-- are greater than our areas of competition.