Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 312 - (20/12/06)
An isolated regime
The Uzbek regime, after a brief flirtation, has fallen out with the West, which
is disgusted with its utterly appalling human rights record.
It was allied to the US after 9:11; but the events in May 2005 in Andijan in the
Ferghana Valley brought an end to that, in which hundreds of demonstrators were
remorselessly mown down. A regime that boils its enemies alive is not a
Craig Murray, the UK ambassador to Tashkent a year or two ago, was the Westerner
who objected, but prematurely, denouncing the atrocities for all that they were
worth - moreover to an Uzbek audience in front of a craven US ambassador - the
ultimate offence. He was sacked for his pains.
He has been totally vindicated, sacked from the Foreign Office for his honesty,
but now in the wilderness, his career in ruin. Which goes to show that honesty
does not always pay.
Even the Turks object
The Westerners may be prepared to overlook anything in expectation of profit
- but not those closer to home.
A vital summit took place in mid-November. The results of the November 17th
summit of the leaders of Turkic-speaking nations exceeded the expectations of
many diplomats and political analysts. The presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakstan,
Kyrgyzstan and Turkey took the first steps toward the creation of a Turkic
commonwealth, giving an enthusiastic endorsement to efforts aimed at
strengthening energy and security ties.
The four leaders, along with Turkmenistan's envoy to Turkey, gathered at the
Turkish Mediterranean resort city of Antalya for the summit, the eighth such
gathering of its kind, but the first held in five years. Officials from
Uzbekistan, who had been slated to attend, ended up boycotting the event due to
a breakdown in relations with Turkey, which has been critical of the human
rights record of the dire Uzbek regime.
Beyond the steps toward closer cooperation, the Turkic summit will be remembered
for the public airing of a diplomatic feud between Turkey and Uzbekistan. Some
news reports claimed that Uzbek officials stayed away from the gathering to
protest the final declaration's wording on the Karabakh settlement. However, a
senior Turkish official said the reason for Tashkent's displeasure was Turkey's
decision to join the United States in supporting a draft measure in UN General
Assembly's Human Rights Council that would condemn human rights violations in
The official was outspoken in his criticism of both Uzbekistan's rights
behaviour and Tashkent's reaction to Ankara's vote. "It is time that some
countries learned that democracy and human rights are essential to integrate
into the global system," he said. "Turkey will persistently work to
promote democracy and human rights for the region's own benefit."
Turkey's decision to vote for the draft Human Rights Council resolution was
"a reflection of our ideals and understanding of the importance of
democracy and respect for human rights," the official continued.
"Turkey has been criticized for similar reasons [human rights violations]
in the past, but we never turned it into a bilateral issue, and chose to make
improvements in our [democracy and human right] records instead."
Such blunt talk would appear to mark a significant shift in Turkish policy, as
Turkish officials had until now avoided open criticism of Uzbek government
action. It may be that Turkey's desire to meet EU accession criteria, especially
the need to bolster its human rights credentials, is playing a role in the
adoption of a tougher line toward Tashkent. The official also indicated that
Ankara is growing tired of Uzbek President Islam Karimov's demands. "They
[Uzbek officials] also accuse us of supporting the Uzbek opposition, citing [the
fact that] opposition leader Mohammad Solih freely travels to and lives in
Turkey. Mr. Solih is free to travel anywhere he wants to go, and travels to
Norway, Britain and the United States. Why is Turkey being singled out?"
the official said.
Uzbek head receives delegation led by assistant to Russian President
The natural result of Uzbekistan's alienation from the West - and even Turkey -
is an enhanced cosiness to Russia. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov
received the delegation led by the assistant to Russian President Jahon Pollyeva,
UzA reports. "Your visit is a confirmation of dynamically developing
relations between Uzbekistan and Russia," said Islam Karimov.
Islam Karimov noted that humanitarian cooperation has the same importance in
bilateral relations similar to other fields such as economic, political,
military cooperation, because this strengthens mutual trust between the
Islam Karimov awarded the assistant to Russian President Jahon Pollyeva with the
order of "Dustlik." During the reception, the president also awarded
the Rector of Moscow State University Victor Sadovnichiy with the order of
"Fidokorona khizmatlari uchun" for contributions in developing the
relations between Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation