Central Asia’s Border Woes and the Impacts of International Assistance

Central Asian borders were arbitrarily drawn by Soviet bureaucrats in Moscow in the early 1920s. Today they are notorious for their ineffectiveness and remain insecure, despite years of Western assistance designed to professionalize, train, and equip border forces. Narco-trafficking remains pervasive; while bureaucratic obstacles and intra-regional tensions act as barriers to civilian crossings and official trade flows. As the West prepares to draw down its forces in Afghanistan by 2014, the U.S.-backed Northern Distribution Network looks set to highlight—and exacerbate—existing challenges in Central Asia. What are the lessons learned from efforts by the EU and other actors to secure Central Asia’s borders? What new approaches could the EU incorporate as part of its revised Central Asia strategy?

George Gavrilis, the director of the Washington-based Hollings Centre for International Dialogue and the author of The Dynamics of Interstate Boundaries, will present the latest in the series of the Open Society Central Eurasia Project’s Occasional Papers addressing how international border assistance programs in Central Asia, such as the EU Border Management Program, can be made more effective.


  • George Gavrilis, Director of the Hollings Centre for International Dialogue
  • Joaõ Vieira, DG DEVCO, European Commission
  • Cornelius Graubner, Program Officer, Open Society Foundations, New York (introductory remarks)
  • Jacqueline Hale, Senior Policy Analyst, OSI-Brussels (moderator)

This expert seminar will take place under Chatham House Rule.

Date: June 7, 2012
Time: 12:152:00 p.m.
George Gavrilis, Cornelius Graubner, Jacqueline Hale, and Joaõ Vieira