Central Asia: The Age of Reform


The Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD) co-organized a conference on December 7, 2022, titled “Central Asia: The Age of Reform” at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, one of the most prestigious and oldest (1754) schools in Europe. 

The conference “Central Asia: The Age of Reform” which focussed on reforms, (geo)political shifts, and investment opportunities in Central Asia – a region with tangible resource advantages and important connectivity between East and West, was officially inaugurated by Mr. Emil Brix, the Director of the Viennese School of International Studies. During the welcome address, Mr. Emil Brix had the opportunity to address the large audience at the Festsaal of the Diplomatic Academy. He was followed by Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, the Secretary General of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, who in his opening remarks outlined the importance of the Central Asian region and its role in the international community.

The welcoming remarks were followed by the reports on Kazakhstan and Central Asia, presented by Dr. Svante E. Cornell, Director of the Central Asia and Caucasus Institute at the American Foreign Policy Council, and Mr. Stefan Antić, Senior Research Fellow at CIRSD. The reports took the audience on a journey from what prompted the region to initiate social, economic, and political reforms through the trajectory of progress that has been made since. Moreover, Dr. Cornell and Mr. Antić concluded with how the reforms should facilitate Central Asia’s rise to international prominence.

During the Fireside Chat between Mr. Emil Brix and Mr. Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Foreign Minister at the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan, the latter tackled numerous issues and gave crucial insight on the recent developments in Central Asia, with a focus on Kazakhstan, concerning the (geo)political, security, social and economic situation in that region. Further, the Deputy Foreign Minister provided insight into what Central Asian governments, especially Kazakhstan, are doing to improve their respective economic climates and attract the global investments.

Lastly, the Horizons Discussion titled “The Hour of Central Asia?” saw a discussion between prominent and high-ranking officials who outlined what challenges still lie ahead for Central Asia in the political, security, and economic realms – providing a platform for informed exchange on how to overcome them. The panel discussion, moderated by CIRSD President, Mr. Vuk Jeremić, saw the attendance and participation of Mr. Iulian Chifu, Foreign Policy, Security and Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Aidar Kurmashev, Head of the Department of International Studies at the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies, Mrs. Velina Tchakarova, Director of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES), as well as Mrs. Christine Muttonen, Former Member of the Austrian Parliament and former President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Special Representative for Central and Eastern Asia. 

The event was organized in cooperation and coordination with CIRSD partners from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Republic of Austria. It was attended by more than 150 high-ranking Austrian officials, ministries and ambassadors of the OSCE countries, top academic experts such as the esteemed Professor Jeffrey Sachs, as well as outstanding students from numerous prestigious Viennese schools.

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