Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 306 - (29/06/06)
SCO becoming a major factor in global politics
The 6-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which met in June, is
becoming a major factor in global geopolitics with great influence on the
balance of power in Asia.
Set up in June 2001, the regional organization consists of China, Kazakstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its member states make up 60
percent of Eurasia and a quarter of the world's population, Russia providing the
bulk of the territory and China of the population. They are the two veritable
giants of the SCO. But Kazakstan and Uzbekistan form the second tier.
It is the successor to the "Shanghai Five" - China, Russia, Kazakstan,
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Set up in 1996 as the Shanghai Five, its objective
was to resolve border disputes and terrorism that emerged in the wake of the war
against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Now five years after it was established, the SCO is clearly evolving beyond its
original mandate of dealing with security threats.
Karimov tilts towards Russia and China away from the US
Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov has broken decisively with Washington. He
did not like being scolded about human rights, especially at a time when the US
is scarcely in a position of high moral rectitude itself.
He has turned to Russia and China, who do not so much as mention such matters.
He predictably talked up Uzbekistan's ties with China during the SCO summit in
Shanghai on June 15-16.
Nonetheless, behind the scenes Karimov is concerned about his country's backward
slide in its relations with the West and wants to open new doors for some type
of rapprochement on his own terms at a later date.
While in Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin consolidated his assessment
of Russia's links with Uzbekistan, strengthened through its bilateral agreements
with Tashkent and envisaging closer economic, military, and security
cooperation. Putin said his support for the Karimov regime is rooted in Russia's
strategic concerns that Uzbekistan could degenerate and become another
In fact, he openly recognized the concern in Washington due to Tashkent's
closure of the U.S. base at Karshi-Khanabad. "I understand the
dissatisfaction of the USA with the fact that Uzbekistan is closing its base.
But if they didn't behave there like a bull in a china shop, maybe the base
would not have been closed," observed Putin, according to Interfax on June
Blaming Washington for the fracture in the U.S.-Uzbek strategic partnership
coincides with Moscow's efforts to discredit the Bush administration's vision of
spreading democracy as a stabilizing mechanism in the world's trouble spots.
"One has to give the country an opportunity to develop in a natural way and
not to impose, as some states do, their own standards, even if they look
attractive at first glance," suggested Putin. The "natural way"
presented the West with pressing political problems in reconciling engagement
with human-rights issues in Uzbekistan.
Uzbek television broadcast images of Karimov sitting with Putin at the SCO
summit. Karimov was also shown promoting the summit and its achievements, which
he described as a "step towards expanding and deepening integration
processes within the SCO and towards joint efforts to counter modern challenges.
I am convinced that cooperation between our states is based on such fundamental
principles as mutual trust and respect, constructive and pragmatic approach[es],
and also on adherence to the balance of interests, which create a solid ground
for solving issues related to maintaining security, peace, and stability and
raising our peoples' prosperity," he said on Uzbek TV First Channel, June
Yet underlying these public statements is the reality that the summit did not
present the Uzbek leader with any tangible, practical progress within the SCO,
despite the obvious support that Tashkent has offered the organization.
Karimov's statements about the lack of effectiveness of the coalition troops
operating in Afghanistan, particularly their unimpressive handling of narcotics
production and drug smuggling syndicates, mirrored closely the official
critiques regularly expounded from Moscow and Beijing. If there was any glimmer
of hope that emerged in these negative remarks, it may be the fact that he
backed away from attacking the U.S.-led counter-terrorist operation in
Afghanistan, and perhaps he instead intended to question the NATO military
stabilization efforts, reflecting his anger with the strong European line taken
over the Andijan tragedy in 2005.
But Karimov also closely identified the Uzbek cause with that of China, even
before his arrival at the summit. In interviews with the Chinese media he would
comment, "Uzbekistan and China, as countries that directly experienced the
reality of threats posed by terrorist, separatist, and extremist religious
forces, have common approaches to maintaining regional stability and security.
We also have a common aim to counter resolutely external attempts to impose
Western methods of democratization and public development on our
countries." Karimov also talked of the growing importance of the SCO's
Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS): "The tasks tackled by RATS are
not confined to just fighting terrorism, separatism, and extremism. It also
counters the intensive ideological activities of numerous radical and extremist
centers that, by brainwashing the youth and poisoning their minds, are setting
up a kind of 'conveyor belt' to generate a stream of zombified performers of
terrorist acts," as the Uzbek National News Agency reported on June 12.
Opening to Germany
Most Uzbek media coverage focused on Uzbekistan's relations with Russia and
China, and its security agenda within the SCO. Nonetheless, the arrival in
Tashkent on June 10 of a small delegation of parliamentarians from Germany
provides a hint at what Uzbek diplomats are saying in private: Karimov believes
the path to restoring more favourable relations with the West will be based on
the passing of time, thus making Andijan a more distant event, and the prospect
of Germany becoming the chairman of the EU in 2007.
Karimov has avoided criticism aimed at Germany, even by default, since Berlin
certainly concurred with the EU line on Andijan. Jochen-Konrad Fromme, head of
the Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union, held talks with Colonel
Alisher Sharafiddinov, deputy head of the Uzbek Interior Ministry, discussing
how the Uzbek Interior Ministry combats terrorism and religious extremism. The
German delegation also met Erkin Xalilov, speaker of the Uzbek parliament's
Tashkent's assessment of Berlin's capacity to assist in smoothing over its
current problems with the EU may be inaccurate and reveals how out of touch the
regime is with how Western multilateral bodies function. However, in Karimov's
mind it is worth a gamble.
Tashkent is making a more realistic opening to Delhi, which is certainly not in
the business of mixing moralizing with business. The following are from an acute
piece on the implications of the new Tashkent-Delhi axis:-
India and Central Asian Diplomacy
Dr. Suvrokamal Dutta from Indolink
The recent visit of Dr Man Mohan Singh to the Central Asian country of
Uzbekistan can be termed as historic in relation to India's central Asian
diplomacy due to several reasons and factors behind it. This high profile visit
can be marked as a kind of watershed in relation to Indian diplomacy towards
Central Asia. The unfortunate part has been the lack of media coverage of this
important visit due to the events happening in Nepal.
The reasons why this visit can be termed as a watershed are because of the
historic turn which the Uzbek leadership has taken in relation to its foreign
policy and economic matters. One can say with confidence that there has been a
U-turn in the Indo- Uzbek relationship after this visit. Reasons for this
historic shift by Uzbekistan is due to strategic, political and economic
As the Uzbek government became extremely worried by anti government and pro west
activities in other central Asian countries, the orange revolution in its
immediate neighborhood like Ukraine, Azar Baijan, and Georgia etc and the
installation of puppet western governments there opened the eyes of the Uzbek
Leadership and the country once again reverted to its old friend Russia to
neutralize the West.
In its south it needed a reliable partner to counter the West and to check mate
the export of terrorism in its soil by Pakistan and the Talibaan. With China it
could not do so as it feared the Chinese domination in central Asia at the same
time it needed a country which could neutralize the Chinese and Pakistan
influence in the area and same time not meddle in its internal affairs. In this
chess board of strategic politics India fitted the bill.
At the same time the country needs advanced technology as well as huge foreign
investments to tap its huge mineral resources specially Oil and Natural Gas .The
country has around 594 million barrels of proven oil reserves and 66.2 trillion
cubic feet of natural gas. To drill this out the country needs advanced
technology to get this from the west would mean huge investments plus political
interference. The Uzbek government now feels it can get this technology from
India at a very cheap cost without any interference in its domestic politics as
such it has started courting India in a very serious manner The spadework of
this was done during the Vajpayee government and Dr Singh's government has
solidified it further. In his recent visit Dr Singh has signed 7 pacts including
MOU's with Uzbek government including one between the Ministry of Petroleum and
Natural Gas, government of India and Uzbekistan National Holding Company,
Uzbekneftegaz . Besides this agreements were also signed in the field of coal,
tourism, Information Technology, Tourism etc. The announcement by the Uzbek
President that Uzbekistan is ready to allocate geological territory to Indian
companies to explore the resources of gas, oil and other hydro carbon products
and the products of the exploration can be shared on 50-50 basis is historic in
itself as so far no Indian Oil Companies have signed MOU's with any other
country on oil exploration on 50- 50 basis.
All this agreements provide India with a golden opportunity to quench her energy
thirst from alternative areas. After the recent stalemate of India with Iran
over the Iranian Nuclear issue the gas pipe project was in doldrums and India
needed desperately a new area to fulfill her oil requirements and Uzbekistan
came to her rescue.
The issuing of a joint statement by the two countries for tackling and fighting
international terrorism jointly and its support to India's claims to the
expanded United Nations Security Council is a clear indication of better ties
between the two countries and a direct slap to Pakistan's strategy in relation
to this region. Uzbekistan has given India for the first time a golden
opportunity to play the role of a deterrent in relation to Central Asian
Politics and hopefully India will play it well only time will predict this.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Uzbekistan, Pakistan sign economic, anti-terror accords
Uzbekistan President, Islam Karimov, was recently in Islamabad on a two-day
official visit. He was welcomed at Chaklala airbase by Foreign Minister Khurshid
Mahmood Kasuri, Minister for Water and Power, Liaqat Ali Jatoi and Law Minster,
Wasi Zafar, New Europe reported.
Karimov held talks with Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, on "issues
of bilateral relations and problems of regional and international
significance," Karimov's press service said. The talks resulted in a joint
statement an agreement on mutual support for private enterprise and a memorandum
of understanding on more extensive trade and mutual investment and a protocol to
exchange ratification instruments on an Uzbek-Pakistani agreement on cooperation
in anti-terrorism activities.
Uzbekistan announced its full support for Pakistan's complete membership in the
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), for which Karimov had consented with
pleasure assuring full unconditional support for Pakistan's entry. Both
countries discussed regional and mutual matters where there is complete harmony
and mutual consensus.
Musharraf is eager to extend railways and inland trade routes with the Central
Asian States and announced his full consent to Uzbekistan's use of Pakistan's
seaports for its world-wide exports.
Both the countries also agreed to enhance mutual trade, and economic links but
the scope for them was quite limited. Karimov underlined enhanced economic and
trade cooperation between the two countries.
Pakistan and Uzbekistan have signed six memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and
one protocol pertaining to cooperation in such issues as war on terrorism,
agriculture, banking, exchange of database relating to customs, and promoting
mutual trade and economic relations. The signing of documents was held in
President House, Islamabad, in which both the Presidents also participated.
Around eight MoUs and agreements to bolster bilateral cooperation in trade and
commerce, establishment of a Business Council, cooperation against terrorism
would be inked. During the course of meetings with Musharraf and Prime Minster,
Shaukat Aziz, Karimov exchanged views on the Iran nuclear issue, latest
Afghanistan and Iraq situations, Pak-India dialogue process and other important
international and regional issues.
Tashkent invites Russian investors to partake in sales
Uzbekistan has invited Russian investors to take part in the privatisation of
the national post office Uzbekistan Pochtasi and Alokabank, which specialises in
providing loans to telecommunication companies, Adulla Aripov, director general
of the Uzbek Communications and Information Agency said at the opening of a
telecommunications conference in Tashkent, Interfax News Agency reported.
These offers are included in a joint plan of measures for cooperation between
Russia and Uzbekistan in the information technologies and telecommunication
sphere, he said. This plan and a bilateral cooperation agreement between Russia
and Uzbekistan was signed during the meeting.
The two countries are planning to work on the issue of Russian Post acquiring 25
per cent of Uzbekistan Pochtasi and on the possibility of Russia' Svyaz-Bank
taking part in the charter capital of Alokabank. The agreement does not
designate concrete dates to implement the proposals. The plan of measures
envisages that Russian and Uzbek communication agencies will cooperate in the
telecommunication, postal services, information technology, informational safety
and banking sectors. The Uzbek Federal Property Commission announced a tender at
the end of 2005 to sell 25.4 per cent of Uzbekistan Pochtasi to foreign
investors at a starting price of 2,448 million Euro. The results of the tender
are expected in the first half of this year.
Meanwhile, Uzbek national holding company, Uzbekneftegaz, is offering 10 new oil
and gas blocks with total forecast reserves of 1.476 billion tonnes to foreign
investors for joint exploration and development, Umijon Isroilov, head of the
company's foreign investment department, said at an international oil and gas
exhibition in Tashkent, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said that this list includes four blocks in Ustyury region, three blocks in
Bukhara-Khiva region and two in Surkhandarya region, and also one block in
Ferghana region. The total area of the 10 sections is 19,500 square kilometres.
Isroilov said that the exploration maturity of the blocks is very low and
practically no deep drilling has been carried out. He said that at the moment of
41 investment blocks highlighted by Uzbekneftegaz, 17 blocks have been handed
over to foreign investors.
Companies involved in prospecting and exploration work in Uzbekistan include
Gazprom, LUKoil, CNPC, Sinopec, Petronas, KOGAS and KNOG. Uzbekistan is the
second largest natural gas producer in the Commonwealth of Independent States
and is one of the top-ten gas producing countries in the world. A total of 187
hydrocarbon fields have been discovered in the republic, including 91 gas and
gas condensate fields, and 96 oil and gas, oil and gas condensate and oil
fields. Of the fields discovered 47 per cent are being developed, 35 per cent
are being prepared for development and exploration work is continuing at the