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Eurasia

Eurasia

Eurasia may be an unfamiliar name. We use the term generally to mean the whole of Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus region, and Russia, including Siberia.   

Most of Turkey and most of Siberia geographically belong to Asia, but the predominant influence on their cultures in modern times has been western, and we find a great deal of advantage in combining them in this way.

In the distant past, WorldShare had partner ministries in France, Spain and Italy, but no longer and it seems unlikely we will again have ministry partners within the European Union or elsewhere in western Europe.

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Therefore, for practical purposes, we take Eurasia to include: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.

This includes some territories which regard themselves as autonomous, such as Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and which may be recognised as independent by a number of other countries, but not by others.

In total this area covers 1,912,1050km2 (around one-eighth of the land surface of the world) and has a joint population of 314.5 million. This population represents just 4.6% of the world’s population – large parts of Siberia are, of course, very sparsely populated.

There is of course wide variation of ethnicity, lifestyle and belief across such a vast area, but the predominant ethnicities are Slavic and Turkic.  These two groups represent 162 million and 65 million people respectively. These two civilisations have very frequently been in conflict and their hostility has had a profound effect on the region’s past for over 1000 years. Both have shown tremendous continuing energy in expanding into new areas.

Today, the region faces many fundamental questions:

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  • i) what will be the nature of a resurgent Russia? How will the former Soviet Empire in Siberia and Eastern Europe react to the new Russia? Increasing numbers of Siberians are becoming wealthier as Siberia’s mineral wealth is at last exploited. China is becoming their main market – what will be the long-term impact of Russo-Chinese relations?

  • (ii) how will Serbia shake off its nationalist past? Will a peaceful solution be found for Kosovo? Can the smaller successor states to Yugoslavia establish long-term political, inter-communal and economic viability?

  • (iii) Turkey has tried hard to be accepted by the EU and has largely been rebuffed. With a pro-Islamic government, will Turkey now turn to the radicalism of her Arab and Iranian eastern neighbours?

  • (iv) Will peace ever come to the disparate Caucasus region, which is a byword for conflict?

The region includes many people who have never received the Gospel of Christ, and many others who have a form of nominal Christianity without knowing all that faith in Christ truly offers. In some areas, there are expansive Muslim communities.   

There are also many social problems – poverty and lack of facilities, poor education and opportunity, and so-on. Alcoholism is pernicious and widespread. Drug-taking and drug-trafficking is also widespread and, as a result, some parts of the region have the world’s fastest-growing rate of HIV+-infection. People-trafficking also takes place widely in the region.

The concept of Eurasia as a region might be unfamiliar, but its problems are real, sharp-edged and tragic.