Three Researchers of HSE University-St Petersburg Took Part in Preparing Special Issue of Central Asian Survey
The special issue of the international interdisciplinary journal Central Asian Survey has been published. It was co-edited by Oleg Korneev, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Affairs, mentor of one of the educational tracks in the Master's programme 'Comparative Politics of Eurasia'. The issue is devoted to the relations between the European Union and Central Asian countries. It features articles by three lecturers of HSE University-St Petersburg.
The journal Central Asian Survey specialises in articles on history, politics, economics, culture and religion of Central Asian and Caucasus countries. The new issue unites ten articles by authors from various Eurasian countries. The special issue is based on a research project on contested global governance, which Oleg Korneev led at the University of Paris 13 in 2016 - 2019.
The articles in the special issue cover the foreign policy of the European Union and international policy in Central Asia. For Russia, this region is of special importance in the context of the so-called turn to the East. Apart from Oleg Korneev, the co-editors were foreign researchers—Rick Fawn from the University of St Andrews and Karolina Kluczewska from the University of Ghent.
The introductory article by three co-editors is a detailed critical review of the literature and also a conceptual interpretation of general questions covered by the special issue. The researchers offer to study the multilevel and multi-actor interactions, where EU and Central Asian countries reinterpret and develop their cooperation. They conceptualised and generalised their perception, interests and practices, which help to explain the motivations and formats of significant actors' interaction.
The second article by Oleg Korneev co-authored with Karolina Kluczewska, focuses on practices of EU-Central Asian interactions. The article demonstrates that the performative character of knowledge production on Central Asia is very important for the EU primarily for symbolic purposes: to legitimise pre-defined formats and practices of interactions with Central Asia and to substantiate existing EU policy priorities towards this region.
Another article in the special issue was prepared by Svetlana Krivokhizh and Elena Soboleva. With reliance on leadership theory, they compared how the EU and PRC build their foreign policy strategies concerning Central Asia, and how it affects the countries of the region. In particular, the research shows how the goals and approaches of the EU and PRC to the region changed after the collapse of the USSR in three fields: non-traditional security, connectivity and cooperation in water management. Though the policies of the two actors are significantly different, the leadership projects of the EU and PRC do not compete, but rather supplement each other. For their part, Central Asian countries enjoy the benefits of participating in the projects of both actors. The second interesting observation was that while making their decisions, both China and the EU take into account the presence in the region of the third potential leader—Russia.
In the article, Elena Soboleva and Svetlana Krivokhizh analysed official documents, speeches and reports to find out what budgets are allocated for this or that initiative, and what goals are stated in it. But the researchers also tried to determine less obvious factors of interactions between leaders and their followers: they studied how the EU and Chinese policies resonate with elites in the Central Asian countries.
Svetlana Krivokhizh, Associate Professor at the Department for Chinese, South and Southeast Asian Studies
We started studying the Chinese policy concerning Central Asian countries in the framework of an RFBR grant, devoted to research on models of regional dominance in Eurasia. Our team compared the leadership projects of three actors: China, the EU and Russia. Elena and I studied Chinese projects. Then, we took an interest in observing how European and Chinese projects coexist in one region. This is how we got an idea to compare how the identity of a political actor influences their behaviour in a certain region and understand how the projects of different leaders manage to coexist peacefully in the same space.
As the foreign policy of the EU was a new topic for us, we asked Oleg Korneev to read the draft of our article. As a result, he and two of his colleagues gave us some valuable advice and suggested submitting our article to the special issue of Central Asia Survey. In the future, we plan to delve into studying which norms China is trying to spread in this region and how they fit into the country's strategy in general.