A regional integration project. Some may ironically think and say that this is not rocket science. This is an unavoidable trend in the contemporary world. There are dozens of unions and various organizations with different depths of interaction. These were the first thoughts running through my head in the morning of April 7 in Baku during the SHAPE Central Asia and Caucasus: Vision 2020 forum.
Goals and means
On Ukraine’s agenda, the issue of integration, in particular European integration, is one of the key points. Therefore, with such a bright example of a supranational project as the European Union, it is hard to withstand the temptation to copy its most successful traits. However, we should ask the following question: What are the main issues that the new prospective project has to resolve? Does it have to start as “a union for the sake of coal and steel” during the industrial age?
Obviously, no. Life during each age wherein there is a global appraisal of values and new risks yields a better answer. Despite all the wars for energy resources that are still going on in the world, tomorrow promises to be utterly different. Science, innovation and an ecological approach to consumerism will be defining. Resolution to the majority of existing problems will depend on the quality of the human resources.
An integration project that is able to meet the challenges of the 21st century has to be based on an interaction of intelligence. Such a basis would allow for setting qualitatively new goals and therefore the expectation of different results. Economic growth is very important but “economic growth at any cost” is an outdated paradigm. The emphasis on human development, innovation and scientific discovery is meant to stimulate changes in the economic structure of a region. As a result, following these new principles, there will be international startups, and ecological and social entrepreneurship.
The recent lobbying of Silicon Valley businessmen make us think that the rush for human resources is expanding on a greater scale. http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/11/zuckerberg-launches-a-tech-lobby-but-what-will-it-do-differently/ Therefore, the establishment of a new regional center for “the attraction of minds” would allow for resolving the task that individual countries are not able to.
Past experience of total integration within the USSR makes us focus on the initial nonpolitical and moreover non-ideological manner of such interaction. Again, only a union free of ideology at the initial stages has no risk of turning into another monster.
The geopolitical weight of such a project is hard to underestimate since Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Black Sea basin can become a sufficient bridge between European and Asian cultures. “Mutual dependence” replaced the concept of a “balance of power” and will also favor or stimulate these processes. Ukraine has a special role in this dialog as it is considered a geographical bridge between Europe and Asia. Ukraine’s European-oriented efforts will be in high demand in this integration.
Of course, political freedom and public consensus will be mandatory for the start of such processes. At the same time, we should keep in mind that there’s less and less living space and time is working against us.
Author: Svitlana Masharovska, member of the Global Shapers Kiev Hub, participant of the SHAPE CIS, Central Asia and Caucasus: Vision 2020 event, Baku, Azebaijan, on 6-7 April 2013