The EU made the areas of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and good governance a top cooperation priority of the EU Strategy framework towards Central Asia for 2007–2013. The inclusion of strong normative elements into this strategy was both due to the EU’s commitment to democratic principles and the lack of a sufficient democratization progress in Central Asia. This book examines two interrelated questions: To what extent has EU democracy promotion in Central Asia been successful? And, to the extent that it was successful, why was this so? By answering these questions, this timely investigation adds to the existing research on democracy promotion mechanisms. It presents a comprehensive analytical framework for the evaluation of democracy promotion, including factors which may facilitate or impede democracy promotion in Central Asia. It also demonstrates the validity of a holistic approach when analyzing factors impeding democracy promotion. It acknowledges that external democracy promotion is affected by a variety of diverse factors whose impact can vary as international, regional, and domestic conditions change. Aijan Sharshenova undertakes two original case studies into the stable and rich authoritarian Kazakhstan as well as much poorer Kyrgyzstan—a state prone to political instability but also to democratic openings. By contrasting the success of democracy promotion in two countries with different strategic importance for the EU, she provides valuable insights into how non-normative interests interfere with normatively driven policies.