Central Asia: All Together Now
S. Frederick Starr, Bilahari Kausikan and Yang Cheng
After a quarter century of independence, the fragmentation of Central Asia is evident to all. A senior official there might justifiably complain about how each country “[is] pursuing its own limited objectives and dissipating its meager resources in the overlapping or even conflicting endeavors of sister states.” He might conclude that such a process,” carries the seeds of weakness in [the countries’] incapacity for growth and their self-perpetuating dependence on the advanced, industrial nations.” One can also imagine that another Central Asian official, seeking an alternative, might propose that “we must think not only of our national interests but posit them against regional interests: That is a new way of thinking about our problems.”
These words were spoken not by a Central Asian but by ministers from the Philippines and Singapore at the opening ceremonies for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. Prior to the founding of ASEAN, no one considered Southeast Asia a single region. Yet over forty years ASEAN has grown from five to ten members and become a model of intra-regional cooperation and coordination. And it has done so without diminishing the sovereignty of its members.
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