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UZBEKISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 9,949 9,713 11,300 91
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 420 450 550 173
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (date from the World Bank)

Books on Uzbekistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
447,400 

Population 
26,410,416

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Uzbeks 71.4%
Russians 8.3%
Tajiks 4.7%
Kazaks 4.1%

Capital 
Tashkent 

Currency 
Uzbek Sum

President 
Islam Karimov


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 Afghanistan. 
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 16.
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 16. 
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 Legislative Chamber.
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 reasons. 
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. 

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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. 

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

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 remaining fields.

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