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The Costs and Benefits of the EU-Central Asian Political Cooperation

Aijan Sharshenova

The purpose of this essay is to discuss the costs and benefits of the EU's involvement with Central Asian politics, namely political dialogue, human rights dialogue and democracy promotion. For this purpose, the essay draws on specific examples of the EU-Central Asia cooperation, and highlights their advantages and disadvantages for the EU, for Central Asian countries, and for both. The research locates itself on the intersection of normative theory, rational choice theory, democracy, and development studies. The paper's sources include EU policy documents and normative and legal acts; research publications; current news; interviews; and speeches of relevant European and Central Asian officials. The paper consists of three parts. In the first part, I discuss the costs of the EU-Central Asian relations for the directly involved stakeholders, the EU and the five Central Asian states. Subsequently, I proceed to an analysis of advantages that such relations bring to the stakeholders. At that, I focus on potential mutual benefits and the benefits for the EU as a single entity (i.e. I do not focus on how the relations benefit the EU's individual member states), and for Central Asian states. The concluding part of the essay represents an intellectual exercise to suggest possible scenarios for further development of relations between the EU and Central Asia on the basis of the costs and benefits of their relations discussed in the two previous parts.

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