The School on Central Asia – 2019. Day 1

13 November 2019

On November 13, an official opening ceremony of the School on Central Asia – 2019 took place in Dushanbe at the premises of Russian-Tajik (Slavic) University. The main topic of the School this year is “Soft Power” of Major Actors in Central Asia: Confrontation and Results”.

Partners of the event are Russian-Tajik (Slavic) University and Informational Analytical Center of Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Rector of RTSU Nurali Salikhov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Tajikistan Igor Lyakin-Frolov, Chairman of Association of Analysts and Experts “Izyskaniya Sredinnoy Azii” and academic advisor of the School on Central Asia – 2019 Sergey Masaulov addressed the participants. Andrey Gorbunov welcomed the attendees on behalf of the Gorchakov Fund.

A theoretical section of the School was opened by presentation “Discourse of the So-Called “Anti-Soft Power” by Alexey Fenenko, Associate Professor at the Department of World Politics of Lomonosov Moscow State University

The expert spoke about practices of confrontation of “soft power” and using an example of European countries he introduced ideas of technical limitation of foreign “soft power” and emphasized importance of not just developing one’s own “soft” potential, but also realizing the need to get protected from somebody else’s influence.

During the session “Approaches from the Perspective of “Soft Power” in Central Asia”, Associate Professor of Moscow Region State University Sergey Fedorchenko presented his report “Western Thank Tanks in Central Asia: Opportunities for Risk Minimization of “Soft Power” Technologies”. He told about “institutes of thought” in the West and also stressed that they never act directly, but only offer their methodology to different governmental agencies.

One of the important ideas expressed by senior researcher of the Center for the Study of Central Asia, Caucasus and Ural-Volga region at the Institute of Oriental Studies RAS Stanislav Pritchin is a need to develop global trends, which in the future will influence governmental institutions and media.

Doctor of Philosophy Dmitry Vinnik mentioned a topic of modern forms of cooperation in science and technology as a source of the “soft power”. According to the expert, the problem of cross-border data migration and ownership of that data is a serious problem for digital independence of a country. Technical means, which are available today, unfortunately, are not sufficient.

One of the top sinologists-political scientists Yana Leksyutina, in her speech, emphasized actual economic and financial dominance of China in major republics of Central Asia. It was stressed that China already for several years had been occupying leading positions in credit financing in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. In addition to that, the expert noted that investments, which are behind credit financing, are offered as a “package” – together with the means, including participation of Chinese companies in implementation of the projects, Chinese workforce and materials.

Bulgarian expert in EU affairs Rosen Dimov dedicated his report to the EU policy in Central Asia and two recent editions of the EU strategy in the region. The quintessence is in acknowledgement of the fact that despite some positive effect from activities of European civil society institutions, the EU leaders do not completely understand specifics of those republics and also that their constant fixation on advancement of democracy development is not in line with the needs of those countries. This being said, the EU laid the foundation for full-scale cooperation in order to bring improvements in legal and nuclear fields.

Read more in Russian here