03 November 2011 - 05 November 2011

The Central Asian republics and their international partners

Chair: Ambassador Pierre Morel

Each country of the region is very different and should be treated as such, but there are common features and a common destiny in many ways.  All the countries face a large number of serious internal and external challenges.  Their capacity to deal with them seems limited, but is arguably greater than at the time of independence.  The prospects are darkened by their failure to talk to each other and cooperate, even over relatively straightforward issues.  This needs to change urgently, particularly over water and energy, but starting with less sensitive issues would be a sensible way to build trust.  Integration is a very distant prospect, but still a worthwhile long-term aim.  Generational change in the leadership could help.  Outside powers are still competing for influence in the region, notably Russia and China, but also others such as Iran and Turkey.  But no country wants to take responsibility for regional security, and China is mostly interested in energy and economic cooperation.  Various international organisations are playing in this space, not very effectively, and need to cooperate more among themselves.  One major concern is what happens after the US/NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, and a possible increase in jihadist pressures.  The countries of the region need to face up to this, and try to shape the future, not just wait for it to happen.

Economically, the desire for diversification away from excessive reliance on oil and gas for those countries which have them is understandable, but will take time, as well as investment in basics like infrastructure and health and education.  The business environment for outside investors is poor, at best, and urgently needs to improve if western investors in particular are to be attracted.

Outside knowledge and understanding of the region remains weak, and needs to improve, but the countries themselves have a responsibility to reach out more to the international community.  Lack of progress in areas like human rights and the rule of law is a reason for greater engagement from those countries interested in this, not less.  Solutions will in the end have to come from within.  In this context, possible contagion/influence form the Arab spring is still worth watching as access to the internet and new social media continues to spread.

At the end of the day, the countries of the region need to recognise that their fate is in their own hands and take responsibility for it, not just play off outside powers against each other in the traditional way.

This conference was a first look at Central Asia for Ditchley, and a timely opportunity to take stock of progress after 20 years of independence, and look at the prospects for the future in a potentially turbulent but important part of the world.  As ever, we would have liked to have had a greater representation from the five Central Asian countries themselves.  We particularly regretted the absence of Tadzhik and Turkmen participants.  But there was a huge amount of expertise around the table, both from the region and from the rest of the world, which contributed to stimulating and frank discussions.  The knowledge and experience of our Chairman also helped guide us towards useful conclusions and recommendations.

The current situation
We heard some stark presentations of the problems facing the countries of the region: poor governance; clan-based politics; corruption; slow economic growth and lack of jobs in some countries; ethnic tensions and jihadist movements on the rise; lack of regional cooperation over critical issues, particularly water and energy; drugs and organised crime, and the links between them; external threats to stability, whether contagion from the Arab Spring, or the fall-out of the US/NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014; poor or non-existent progress towards regional integration, with too many ineffective international organisations crowding each other out; big gaps between the richer and poorer countries of the region, and lack of solidarity; and the squeeze caused by rivalry between outside powers, notably Russia and China.  A lot of the local politics remained very personal, linked to individual leaders.  Some saw a combination of these factors creating centrifugal forces, and taking the five countries away from the desirable goal of integration.
Other participants, while not denying the nature and seriousness of such problems, pointed to how much had been achieved over the last 20 years in difficult circumstances.  It had by no means been a given that countries ‘catapulted to independence’ after the collapse of the Soviet Union would survive as independent states, or begin to find their rightful place in the wider world.  They had done both, even if there was a long way to go, and had made progress towards market-based development.  It was true that regional integration seemed a distant goal, but integration was a highly ambitious and complex objective, as even the European Union (EU) was finding.  While each state was certainly different and distinctive, there was a significant shared historical and cultural legacy, and a popular awareness of the region as an entity in its own right – not just as a bridge between Europe and Asia.  The five countries could be seen as the five fingers of a hand: each different from the others, and able to move independently or with one or more of the others, but all ultimately joined together and unable to function without that fundamental link.  Interdependence was a reality in this region, as in others.

One political challenge would be succession to the ageing leaders in the two biggest countries of the region, with great uncertainty about who would take over.  But this was not seen as an insuperable challenge.  A more fundamental point was generational change.  The next generation of leaders would have been formed in a post-Soviet world, and would behave differently from their predecessors.  The question was how?  Meanwhile, the young in these countries, like the young elsewhere, were much better informed about what was happening in the rest of the world, and beginning to have expectations accordingly.  The new social media were spreading fast, though their influence was still limited.  The contagion of ideas from the Arab spring had to be a factor, but the governments of the region were reacting by clamping down further, not embracing reform to head off trouble.  These governments were simultaneously strong and weak, Soviet-style.
Prospects for integration
There was agreement that any kind of integration was a very long way off.  National sovereignty concerns prevailed for the moment, at least at governmental level.  Integration could remain the ultimate objective, but the emphasis should meanwhile be on improving cooperation, starting from areas where this was physically and geographically unavoidable, such as transport and other infrastructure, and telecoms.  Some progress had already been made here, including through the private sector.  But in many areas even basic cooperation was lacking, as could be seen from the pitiful level of mutual trade in the region, and the problems at the borders.  The countries sometimes hardly seemed to know each other, let alone understand each other.  To start to improve this, a bottom up approach could be helpful, in addition to top-down efforts.  If bilateral relations could be improved, this could be built on gradually.  Issues could also usefully be put into two baskets: the less politically difficult and challenging and the more sensitive and contentious.

The first basket contained areas such as the following:

  • Health: particularly cooperation in public health emergencies such as pandemics.

  • Natural disasters: this was a highly disaster-prone region, and better cooperation on reducing the risks of disasters such as earthquakes, droughts and floods, all bound to recur, should be a self-evident good.  Better preparation and coordination of response should be equally obviously in the common interest.

  • Border security and controls: there were no doubt some sensitivities here, but the need for greater cooperation and more open borders was nevertheless clear.

  • Education and training: working together to overcome capacity constraints and promote economic modernisation and diversification offered clear common benefits.

  • Drug trafficking: all the countries faced common threats, increasingly internal consumption as well as transiting, and needed common solutions.  It was pointed out that corrupt involvement in the drug trade by some in government in some countries meant this was more politically sensitive than it might appear, but this was not seen as a reason to avoid pushing for greater combined efforts.

Some of the issues in this first basket were also appropriate for non-governmental cooperation, including the private sector.  In general, further development of the role of the private sector, particularly the development of SMEs, less liable to fall into corrupt government nets of different kinds, was seen as vital for the future health of the countries of the region individually and as a collective.

The second, more difficult and sensitive basket included issues such as the following:

  • Water use and distribution: this was absolutely vital, but heavily bound up with issues of sovereignty and national pride.  The present situation was disastrous and short-sighted, particularly as climate change promised greater stresses.  There was probably more readiness to cooperate than was evident from the national rhetoric in some countries, but this still needed to be turned into reality.  If the water area could be tackled successfully, it could show the way for cooperation more widely.

  • Energy use and distribution: closely linked to water, at least for areas like hydropower (the Rogun hydropower project was a potential flashpoint where solutions urgently needed to be found), and just as essential, if not more so, for future economic progress and growth.  Recreating a united energy grid would be a basic building block.

  • Interethnic relations: the political sensitivities here were very clear, but the issues could not be dodged indefinitely if future explosions were to be avoided.  At the very least governments should avoid stoking tensions.

  • Governance: fundamental, but probably in the too difficult tray for now as far as regional relations were concerned.

  • Security and external relations: each country should be free to manage its own relationships, not least with the major powers, but account could be taken in doing so of the interests of others in the region.

In all this, there was a strong view from some participants that regional integration was not really the main priority for the region at this stage.  Engagement with the rest of the international community should be the goal for now.

Relations with the outside world
We spent quite a lot of time on this broad issue.  Central Asia had historically been the object of great power rivalry because of its strategic location and resources and, although the Great Game should in principle be no more, to some extent the region remained an area to be competed over.  The Central Asia states were of course well aware of this, and each in its own way was seeking to balance outside powers against one another in order to maintain the greatest degree of independence and freedom of manoeuvre possible.  We noted that key outsiders tended to view the region in different ways, varying from energy concerns to security worries.  The lack of unity within the region was matched by lack of unity of perception outside.

Russia’s interest in Central Asia was long-standing and inevitably long-term.  The Russians were naturally concerned about security threats potentially coming from the region, not least those linked to drugs and religious fundamentalism.  If Mr Putin were re-elected as President, he looked likely to pursue the idea of a new EurAsian Union, though it remained far from clear what that really meant.  Part of the motivation seemed to be to keep western influence out, and no doubt China too.  The countries of Central Asia were bound to be wary of Russian intentions, given the history, but would also want to be friendly neighbours.  The Russian language was a common factor in the region, and much contemporary culture came from Russia, but the Russians themselves seemed to lack understanding of the region.  Trade with Russia was large and gave the Russians an important lever, but investment from there was low.  Russia was also a major outlet for Central Asians unable to find jobs at home, which was a significant safety valve.

China’s interests seemed to be largely economic and connected to natural resources, mainly oil and gas.  Recent Chinese investments had been considerable, but the relationship could not easily stop there.  China was bound to be aware of potential Russian ambitions in the region, and wary of them, but seemed unwilling to play any kind of security role.  In any case, China’s importance as a market and source of investment, including in non-energy areas, was bound to grow further.

US interest in the region today was largely a function of the war in Afghanistan, in terms of bases and transport access.  It was unclear how US concerns would evolve after 2014.

The EU, even if distracted by its internal problems, was playing an increasingly important role, trying to use its soft power to tackle some of the soft security problems.  Its advantage was that it was relatively distant and therefore less threatening.  But its levers were weak, and the real interest perhaps mostly in the energy field.

There were also other significant players with strong political, economic, cultural or ethnic links to the region: Turkey and Iran were the most obvious examples, each with big interests in the region, and perhaps a stronger ambition to play a regional role than any of the big powers.  But, for example, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia were all interested, as were some of the Gulf states.  There were might be no one Great Game these days, but there were a number of minor Great Games under way involving some of these players.

How was the security of the region to be guaranteed in the future?  In practice none of the P5 powers or the EU seemed to want to take on such a role, not even Russia, and the second tier powers were not capable of doing so, even if they were to want to.  This meant that the countries of the region were effectively on their own, and should get together to help themselves, probably on an economic rather than explicitly security basis.

The impact of planned US/NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 was much discussed.  Clearly it was hard to predict the situation which would be left behind, and the US and other western powers would not be withdrawing altogether.  But the risk of a strengthened Taliban, with encouragement from Pakistan, was clearly there, with all that might mean for contagion in the region.  How strong were jihadist forces currently?  Views differed, with some seeing, for example, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as weaker than it had been, and the threat from internal political instability as much greater; while others believed the IMU’s strength was now over 2,000 fighters and still rising.  In any event, while it could not topple regimes now, the threat from jihadism could by no means be discounted, even if regional leaders played it up for their own purposes, to portray themselves as bulwarks of stability.  Radicalisation was not just about contagion from Afghanistan.  There were plenty of disillusioned youths around, including failed emigrants to Russia.

An important issue here was how far Afghanistan should be considered an integral part of Central Asia.  Clearly it had much in common with its neighbours, and strong historic, linguistic, ethnic and other links.  It shared a border with three of them, and a very important river system.  But it was also strongly linked to the South, and South Asia.  On balance it should probably be regarded as a very close neighbour with destinies intertwined.  For the countries of Central Asia themselves, it would be important not to fall back into old habits of special links with the relevant ethnic minorities in the north of Afghanistan, with the risk of recreating the previous Northern Alliance, and encouraging division and conflict within Afghanistan.  Links with Kabul were therefore vital.  These had in fact improved in recent years, and Kabul itself had been working on such ties, but there was still a long way to go.  As a more general point, there was a strong feeling that the Central Asian countries needed to be more proactive in this area, since it was their own fates which were ultimately at stake.  They could not afford simply to wait to see what happened, and should be trying to shape events, at least through active diplomacy with key players such as Pakistan.

Afghanistan was also clearly the key factor in the drugs problem of Central Asia, as well as globally.  Some believed strongly that little could be expected to change unless and until the international community in general, and the West in particular, reduced their demand for heroin.  Others believed that, while the issue of demand was clearly crucial, there was still room for more effective action on the supply side too, through crop substitution programmes and the struggle against organised crime, targeting in particular the flourishing trafficking in chemical precursors.  Moreover Russia was now the biggest consumer of Aghan heroin, with western users now more interested in South American cocaine.

The role of international organisations
There were several international organisations operating in the region: the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO); the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO); the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the EU and to a small extent NATO (because of Afghanistan).  Some were more successful than others.  Some were more inclusive than others.  It would be helpful if these organisations could work with each other more, on as many levels as possible, and do more to avoid duplication.  They should all also be trying to promote cooperation between the five states of the region.

The SCO was generally viewed as a useful organisation, in particular through its ability to manage rivalry between Russia and China.  But it was unclear what its ambitions now were and where its real focus lay – economic, because of China’s strong interest in this area, or in wider areas of politics and security.  There were also unanswered questions about the extension of its membership, and observer status.

The CSTO was obviously a security organisation, but there was disagreement about what it had achieved so far.  Some participants argued that its existence was an important contribution to stability.  Others pointed out that it had so far failed to have any real impact on crucial issues such as trafficking in drugs, weapons and people.  It had also conspicuously stood aside during the ethnic violence in Osh in Kyrgyzstan in 2010.  A continuing issue was the question of a possible relationship between NATO and the CSTO, which most participants saw as worth trying.

The OSCE was seen as having played a largely positive role in the region through its work on greater transparency and tolerance and links between eg parliamentarians; and because of its promotion of regional cooperation.  Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship in 2010 had been controversial for some OSCE members, and not delivered on all the promises, including at the Astana summit.  Nevertheless its chairmanship could be considered a success overall, including in giving the regime greater international visibility.  The preparation involved in the chairmanship had itself been an important exercise for the government in Astana.

Energy and economic development
Energy remained the macroeconomic foundation of the region.  90% or more of the foreign direct investment (FDI) was in this area, or that of other basic resources (we were reminded that the region was potentially an important source of rare earths).  The completion of new pipelines to export oil and gas from the region to China, and markets elsewhere in the world, would have a significant impact on global markets.  In the gas sector, the recently completed pipelines were already allowing Central Asia producers to diversify their markets and earn higher prices.  As export volumes to China increased, this could have an impact on the Chinese requirement to buy from elsewhere, including Russia.  Meanwhile, energy resources in the region were very unevenly distributed, which was increasing the economic disparities between different countries.  This was not likely to make cooperation easier and could increase inter-state tensions.

Diversification of the local economies was a common target.  This was easier said than done.  Agriculture was one obvious area, particularly in Kazakhstan.  Increasing technical, scientific and management capacity was crucial, as well as expanding basic infrastructure.  For Kazakhstan, with its size and wealth, the development of banking and other financial services for the region could be one important diversification path.  There was investment going on in the private sector, with creation of a network of SMEs making some progress.  Local content policies could make a contribution.  But unemployment rates remained very high.

On the investment side, international worries about the business and investment climate were a limiting factor.  In some countries the business environment was shockingly poor, or impossible even to understand, as in Turkmenistan.  Investors wanted stability, but also needed to have confidence about basic issues such as freedom from nationalisation, profit retention and repatriation, and ability to avoid corruption.  These questions were particularly important for investors in the extractive industries, and no doubt more important for investors from countries in the West with very strict anti-bribery requirements.

There was some discussion of the role of Sovereign Wealth Funds in the development of those countries that had them (Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan).  Their basic aim was to help governments deal with the problems created by large but variable revenues from energy and other commodity related sectors.  The National Fund for the Republic of Kazakhstan (NFRK), set up in 2000, had helped in the financial crisis of 2007-2009, but was otherwise set up to invest only in low-risk securities.  A separate Fund, financed from NFRK income, was designed to make infrastructure and other investments, and could make a significant contribution to development. But the management of these funds needed to be much more transparent than now if suspicion about corruption or major misallocation of funds was not to grow.

Trade between the countries of the region was very low and should be encouraged.  Only the Kyrgyz Republic had so far joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).  The others, apart from Turkmenistan, had all applied for membership some years ago but accession negotiations were either stalled or moving very slowly, except in the case of Kazakhstan.  Was there any contradiction between WTO membership and the idea of a Customs Union involving Russia and other CIS countries?  Most participants thought not.  But economic nationalism in the region was still a force to be reckoned with.  Entrenched forms of governance which tended to maximise the state’s role in economic development were also a problem.  It was the combination of this, and the narrow elite which benefitted, with corruption that was potentially so challenging.

Corruption in Central Asia was not necessarily worse than in some other parts of the world, but its impact there was amplified by the structural weaknesses of these relatively new states, and it had to be tackled directly too.  Long-term plans were needed to do so, based if possible on successful examples in the post-Soviet space.  Part of this should be proper compensation and benefit packages for relevant employees, including pay-for-performance, in-service training, and more generous social provisions (pensions, healthcare etc). 

As a general point, in order to tackle internal problems, and lay strong foundations for economic development, much more investment in key social areas, particularly health and education, was vital.

Approaches to the region
There was a view around the table that the region was still poorly known to the outside world, and even less understood.  Specific cultural aspects had to be taken into account and an attempt made to put oneself in Central Asian shoes, or basic mistakes would be made by outsiders.  Meanwhile, what was the balance to be struck between interests and values in dealing with the region?  Were they incompatible with each other?  It was hard to find consensus, but there was agreement that more engagement, of a continuous and consistent kind, with countries of the region, and those within them, was very important.  More interaction not less, should be the mantra, even where progress seemed disappointing, for example in areas like human rights.  In such areas, preachy or unsubtle approaches were to be avoided.  Change had to come from inside, and not be forced from outside.  But the domestic issues could not be ignored.  The rule of law was too fundamental in so many ways.

The following is an attempt to draw together some of the conclusions and recommendations from a very rich discussion:

  • While the region has identifiable common characteristics, each county has to be treated separately and on its own merits.  One-size-fits-all approaches will not work.

  • Integration can be an ultimate objective, but the focus for now should be on fostering cooperation in the more straightforward areas, to build trust, for example in the first basket of issues listed above.  This should be more bottom up than top down.

  • At the same time water and energy are the key issues and cannot be left untackled without huge risks to the region and individual countries.  Electricity cooperation is the best place to start.

  • Prospects for internal political change are unclear but the issue of potential contagion from the Arab spring and the spread of social media should not be underestimated.

  • Governance issues are fundamental, and cannot be ignored in dealings with the countries, but change will ultimately have to come from within, and concerns about eg human rights should not be a reason for not engaging – the reverse should be the case.

  • Much more transparent discussion is needed about highly sensitive issues such as ethnic tensions and organised crime/drugs.  Keeping quiet does not make them go away.

  • It will remain a major challenge for the countries of the region to keep a balance between the different powers interested in the region, and ideas such as the Eurasian Union.  Greater cohesion between them would help, including perhaps their own regional organisation.

  • The various international organisations active in the region need to cooperate more and compete less. Regional security will only in the end be assured by the countries themselves.

  • There are both risks and opportunities from Afghanistan’s role in the region, but the risks are likely to be foremost as 2014 approaches, including the increase of jihadism.  The countries of the region should be proactive both in direct diplomacy with Kabul and with the other key players, to help shape the future.

  • On the economic side, the business environment in most countries of the region needs to improve radically, including in areas like corruption, if foreign investment from a wide spread of countries, not least in the west is to be encouraged.

  • Effective economic diversification away from reliance on oil and gas by those countries richest in resources will be a long term challenge.  Building human capital and encouraging SMEs will be crucial parts of this.

We found it difficult to say with any degree of confidence what this region would look like in five or 10 years time. The challenges facing the countries of the region are many and serious.  However, their individual capacity to deal with them has increased slowly over the years.  Pessimism about the future should not therefore be overdone.  Much greater mutual dialogue and cooperation could do much to transform the prospects over time. This is not a region likely in the short term to do better economically than other parts of the world, but if progress over governance and the business climate can be made, there are significant opportunities.  The outside world needs to work harder to understand the region and its specificities, avoid looking at it through exclusive prisms such as terrorism or energy, and take it seriously.  Grand strategies are probably less important than well thought through approaches in individual areas.  But the countries of the region have to realise that in the end their fate is in their own hands.  No-one will solve their problems for them.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.


Chair: Ambassador Pierre Morel  (EU/France)
French Diplomatic Service (1971-); EU Special Representative for Central Asia (2006-).  Formerly: Advisor to the Policy Planning Centre, French Foreign Ministry, Paris (2005-06); Ambassador of France to: The Holy See (2002-05); The People's Republic of China (1996-2002); The Russian Federation and Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Moldova (1992-96); Kyrgyzstan (1993-96); Georgia (1992-93).

Ambassador Omar Samad 
ector, South and Central Asia Consulting (2011-).  Formerly: Afghan Diplomatic Service (2001-11); Ambassador of Afghanistan to France (2009-11); Ambassador to Canada (2004-09); Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kabul (2001-04); President, Afghan Information Center, USA (1996-2001); Executive Producer, Azadi Afghan Radio, USA (1996-2001); Advocate for the Afghan cause (1980-2001).

Mr Ray Boisvert 

Assistant Director, Intelligence, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).  Formerly:  Director General, International Terrorism Branch, CSIS. Foreign Collections Officer, Middle East.

Ambassador Ferry de Kerckhove
Formerly: Canadian Diplomatic Service (1973-2011); Ambassador to Egypt (2008-11); Director General, International Organisations (2004-06); Ambassador to Indonesia (2001-03); High Commissioner to Pakistan (1998-2001); Deputy Head, Policy Branch (1996-98); Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Canada to the Russian Federation (1992-95). 

Professor Jacques Frémont 
Director, International Higher Education Support Program, Open Society Foundations USA.  Formerly: Provost and Vice-Principal, Academic Affairs and Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Montreal; Vice-Rector, International and Graduate Studies (2005-07); Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Law (2000-04); Member of the Program Advisory Committee, The Canadian Ditchley Foundation (2009-11).

Mrs Nurjehan Mawani CM 
Resident Representative, Aga Khan Development Network, Bishkek (2005-).  Formerly: Federal Civil Servant (1986-2005); Commissioner, Public Service Commission (2001-03); Chair, Immigration and Refugee Board (1992-99).

Professor Dr Zhang Yifeng 

Assistant Director, Institute of Eurasia Studies; Senior Research Fellow, Center for Shanghai Cooperation Organization Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Mr Marc Perrin de Brichambaut 

Formerly: Secretary General, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Vienna (2005-11); Director for Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Defence, Paris (1998-2005); Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris (1994-98); Head of delegation to the OSCE, Vienna (1991-94); Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister of Defence, Paris (1988-91).

Dr Volker Frobarth

Director, Transboundary Water Management Programme in Central Asia, GIZ (German International Cooperation Organisation), Bishkek.  Formerly: Director, Foreign Trade with CIS and Baltic States, Ministry of Economy, German State of Hesse; Head of Economy, Infrastructure and European Affairs Division, Hesse State Representation, Berlin; OSCE in Tajikistan, Georgia, Latvia, Ukraine.

Professor Siddharth Saxena 

Chairman, Cambridge Central Asia Forum; Honorary Secretary, UK Committee for Central and Inner Asia; Director, Cambridge Kazakhstan Centre; Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge.

His Excellency Mr Kairat Abusseitov 

Kazakh Diplomatic Service (1993-); Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom (2008-).  Formerly: Ambassador to Switzerland (2004-08); Vice Minister then First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs (1999-04).

Mrs Azalia Dairbekova 
President, Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia (EFCA), Almaty.  Formerly: Executive Director, ECFA Tajikistan and ECFA Kyrgyzstan; Regional Director, USAID Enterprise Development/Trade and Investment Program (2000-06); Member, Kyrgyz Republic Presidential Council on Sustainable Human Development (1997-2000).

Dr Roza Kashkenbayeva 
President, Kazakh-British Chamber of Commerce, London.

Mr Shairbek Dzhuraev 

Director, Central Asian Studies Institute, American University of Central Asia (AUCA).  Formerly: Dean of Academic Development, AUCA; Chair of International and Comparative Politics Department, AUCA; National Political and Policy Consultant, UK Department for International Development office, Bishkek.

Her Excellency Dr Baktygul Kalambekova 
Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic, Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic to the United Kingdom.

Dr Baktybek Beshimov 
Visiting Scholar, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University (2010-); Visiting Scholar, Center for International Studies, MIT (2009-); Visiting Professor of Government, Suffolk University; Formerly: Member of Parliament, Leader of Social Democratic Faction, Kyrgyzstan (2007-09); Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal (2000-05).

Mr Djeyhoun Ostowar

Weidenfeld Scholar, Oxford University; Senior Fellow, Humanity in Action.

General Leonid Ivashov (Retd) 

President, Academy of Geopolitical Affairs, Moscow.  Formerly: Secretary, Council of CIS Defense Ministers; Chief, Department of International Military Cooperation, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Mr Göran Lennmarker 

Chairman, Governing Board, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).  Formerly: Member (Moderate Party), Swedish Parliament (1991-2010); Member, EU Convention on the Future of Europe; President, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.  Founder and President, Yes to Europe Foundation.

His Excellency Mr Ünal Çeviköz 

Turkish Diplomatic Service (1978-); Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to the United Kingdom (2011-).  Formerly: Deputy Undersecretary for Bilateral Political Affairs (2006-11); Ambassador to Iraq (2004-06); Ambassador to Azerbaijan (2001-04).

Mr Serkan Elden 
Managing Director for Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and Former Soviet Union, PineBridge Investments, Istanbul.  Formerly: CEO (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan, Afghanistan), Fintur Holdings; Senior Investment Officer, American Enterprise Fund in Central Asia.

Dr Najam Abbas

Senior Research Fellow on Central Asia and Afghanistan, EastWest Institute (2008-); Research Fellow, Central Asian Studies, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London (2003-).  Formerly: University of Central Asia (2000-02); Aga Khan Humanities Project for Central Asia, Tajikistan (1997-2000).

Dr Laurie Bristow 
HM Diplomatic Service (1990-); Director, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (2010-).  Formerly: Deputy Ambassador, British Embassy, Moscow (2007-10); HM Ambassador to Azerbaijan (2004-07); Deputy Director, Iraq Policy Unit, FCO (2003).

Mr Richard Burge 
Chief Executive, Wilton Park.  Formerly: Government Commissioner for Rural Communities (2005-09); Chief Executive, Countryside Alliance (2000-05); Director General of the Zoological Society of London (1995-99); Head of Africa and Middle East Development Operations, British Council.

Right Honourable the Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC 
Chairman, British-Kazakh Society.  Formerly: Deputy Leader of the Opposition (1997-98); Opposition Spokesperson for Trade and Industry (1997-98); Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (1995-97); Member of Parliament (Conservative) for Angus East (1983-87), for Angus South (1979-83).

Dr Hamid Ismailov 
Head, Central Asia and Caucasus Service, and BBC World Service Writer in Residence, London.  Poet and novelist.

His Excellency Mr Rupert Joy 
HM Diplomatic Service (1990-); HM Ambassador to Uzbekistan (2009-).  Formerly: Head of South America Team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (2005-08); Deputy Consul-General, Basra (2005); Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy, Rabat (2000-03); Head of Crisis Management, Counter-Terrorism Department, FCO (1996-99).

Professor Yelena Kalyuzhnova 
Director, Centre for Euro-Asian Studies, University of Reading; Economic Adviser on Caspian issues to Rt Hon the Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC; Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.  Formerly: Economic Adviser, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kazakhstan (2006-10); Economic Adviser to the President of Kazakhstan (1994-95).

His Excellency Mr David Moran 
HM Diplomatic Service (1985-); HM Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan and Non-Resident Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic (2009-).  Formerly: Deputy Director, Early Warning and Transnational Issues, Cabinet Office (2008-09); HM Ambassador to Uzbekistan (2005-07); Deputy UK Permanent Representative to OECD, Paris (2001-05).

Mr Jonathan Popper 
Vice President, Business Development (Caspian), Petrofac Integrated Energy Services.  Formerly: Senior Associate, The Energy Contract Company, Twickenham; President BP Central Asia.

Lord Waverley 
Chairman, Central Asia All-Party Parliamentary Group.

Mr Alex Woodfield 
Corporate Finance Partner and Head of CIS Group, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, London.

Ambassador James Collins 

Director, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
(2007-).  Formerly: Senior Advisor, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP; US Diplomatic Service; Ambassador of the USA to the Russian Federation (1997-2001); Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States (1995-98).

Dr Martha Olcott 
Senior Associate, Russia and Eurasia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC; Co-Director, Carnegie Moscow Center Project on Religion, Society, and Security in the former Soviet Union; Professor Emerita, Colgate University (1974-2002).  Formerly: Director, Central Asian American Enterprise Fund. Author.

Dr Eugene Rumer 
National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia, National Intelligence Council.  Formerly: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University; Policy Planning Staff, US Department of State; National Security Council; RAND Corporation, Moscow.

Dr S Frederick Starr 
Chairman, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program; Research Professor, Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Trustee, The Afghanistan Foundation.  Formerly: Rector Pro Tem, University of Central Asia; President, Oberlin College (1983-94); Founding Director, The Kennan Institute.

Dr Angela Stent 
Director, Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies, and Professor of Government and Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC; Senior Fellow (non-resident), Brookings Institution; Co-Chair, Hewett Forum on Post-Soviet Affairs, Brookings Institution; Member, World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Europe and Central Asia.  Formerly: National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia, National Intelligence Council (2004-06).

Mr Jamshid Ganiev 

Director, UBI Consulting LLC, Tashkent; Public and Private Sector Development Consultant of IFI projects implemented in CIS and Afghanistan.  Formerly: Managing Partner, Uzbek Banks Research (2001-09).

Dr Farkhod Tolipov 
Director, Bilim Karvoni (Knowledge Caravan) Education and Research Institution, Tashkent; Formerly: Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, National University of Uzbekistan; Assistant to Political Officer, OSCE Center in Tashkent; Senior Researcher, Institute for Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of Uzbekistan; Senior Consultant, Office of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.