On March 15, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the speaker of Turkmenistan’s parliament gathered in Astana for the first Central Asian summit since 1999.
It was a friendly meeting, and the leaders vowed to make it an annual event.
There certainly is much the leaders of the five countries could do to improve regional cooperation, but promises of better ties have been made before.
For this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, led a discussion about the recent summit, the chances the fair words said in Astana will translate into fair deeds across the region in the future, and what closer cooperation among the five states could mean for a region located at the crossroads of Eurasia.
From Astana, Helene Thibault, assistant professor at Nazarbaev University, who also has done extensive work in Tajikistan, joined the talk. From Columbia University in New York City, Alex Cooley, the director of the Harriman Institute, took part. And from Glasgow University in Scotland, a longtime friend of the Majlis, Luca Anceschi, professor of Central Asian Studies, lent his insight to the discussion. I’m a big fan of the idea of regional cooperation in Central Asia, so I threw in a few comments of my own.
Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes.