Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Authoritarian rule, poorly functioning legal systems and dilapidated education and health infrastructure dominate the scene in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus. The region has not, however, developed uniformly since independence. In the Southern Caucasus two reasonably well functioning democracies have been able to emerge, while in Central Asia some of the authoritarian regimes are more repressive, some more liberal. Authoritarian rule is supported by traditional patterns of societal relations, corrupt government practices and, in some cases, highly repressive power apparatuses, against which existing elements of democratic power control are unable to assert themselves. The engagement of external actors in the region focuses on the areas of security, energy and the promotion of democracy. Between the interests of the three powers Russia, the USA and China in the region Europe might play an important role in the future as a moderating force with an agenda that places the emphasis on cooperation, integration and multilateralism and views democratization as a long-term project.