Russia has no intentions of getting involved again in Afghanistan. Yet Central Asian republics now fear instability on their borders as NATO’s 100,000-strong presence ends.
In 2001, both Americans and Europeans spoke of building democracy in Afghanistan. Now the priority has shifted toward making the country stable and making Afghans responsible for security.
India and Europe are not so different. Both have had to rethink their place in the world, which has forced them to re-examine their relationships with global players.
The European Union could make a difference both practically and strategically by putting in place a long-term development strategy for Afghanistan.
Between now and 2014, the 50 countries participating in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan will have to empty their military bases and leave the landlocked country.
The Eurasian customs union formed by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in 2010—the largest in the world by territory—is becoming very real.
Although European and Chinese leaders are conscious of the huge benefits of better cooperation, they have yet to find an effective way to work together.
Only if Europe is seen as a strategic player will it be able to contribute to Asia’s security in accordance with its own values.
As the Eurasian customs union’s influence on the world stage and in Europe’s neighborhood is likely to increase, the EU should attempt to understand the project and find ways to protect its own interests.
With the right mix of realism and self-confidence, the EU may be able to pursue a more interests-based and assertive engagement with China and India.