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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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

Update No: 357 - (26/09/10)

Uzbekistan closes border to refugees
Uzbekistan has closed its border to refugees fleeing the deadly violence in Kyrgyzstan, some of whom have accused government forces of helping armed gangs slaughter ethnic Uzbeks.

Bodies littered the streets of the southern Kyrgyzstan city of Osh where fresh gunfire rang out, and more fighting was reported in the nearby city of Jalalabad. The official death toll from the ethnic violence is 124 but the Red Cross estimates the real toll to be far higher.

With estimates of up to 100,000 refugees already inside Uzbekistan, the Central Asian state's Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Aripov said the border would be shut, despite pleas from aid groups and the UN to leave it open. "Today we will stop accepting refugees from the Kyrgyz side because we have no place to accommodate them and no capacity to cope with them," he said. Uzbekistan needed international humanitarian aid to cope, he said. "If we have the ability to help them and to treat them of course we will open the border" again, he added.

Mr Aripov said Uzbekistan had registered 45,000 adults from Kyrgyzstan, while another official said there were 65,000 adults in Uzbekistan's Andijan region alone. The UN's refugee agency said it was sending aid for 75,000.

Ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks have flooded into Uzbekistan in the four days of bloodshed around Osh and Jalalabad, which has left more than 120 people dead and 1,762 wounded.

The violence exploded in Osh when ethnic Kyrgyz gangs began attacking the shops and homes of ethnic Uzbeks, igniting tensions between the two dominant groups in the region that have simmered for a generation. The unrest comes barely two months after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a popular uprising. Mr Bakiyev's stronghold is in southern Kyrgyzstan. Ethnic Uzbeks have accused government forces of helping Kyrgyz mobs in their deadly rampage.

Charred corpses lay unattended in a burned out ethnic Uzbek shop in Osh and the streets were strewn with shell cases and wrecked cars.

Intermittent gunfire could be heard and new violence was reported further north in Jalalabad.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged Kyrgyz authorities to act firmly.

"It seems indiscriminate killings, including of children, and rapes have been taking place on the basis of ethnicity."

The violence appeared to have been "orchestrated, targeted and well-planned," she added. She urged both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to accept refugees.

The Silk Road ahoy
The silkworm business dates back centuries to the Silk Road that ran through this Central Asian country. Kokand, the name of the town in the fertile Ferghana Valley where Dilorom's family farms, is the same as the Uzbek word for "cocoon." Kokand was the destination of the first westbound Chinese caravan carrying silk in 121 B.C. that started the fabled trade route.

To mark the beginning of a new phase of the Silk Road, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in collaboration with the government of Uzbekistan, will hold the 5th International Meeting on the Silk Road from October 8-9, 2010 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Samarkand and Bokhara, Khiva and Khokand, are milestones along this historic route.

The meeting will introduce new concepts of branding for the Silk Road, along with marketing, destination management, travel facilitation in September, and strategies leading the launch of the Action Plan 2010-2011 UNWTO-Silk Road.

For many years, UNWTO has supported the development of sustainable tourism along the historic Silk Road, an excellent network of paths that for centuries has been the fundamental link between East and West, crossed by conquerors, traders, and missionaries.

This year, UNWTO is pleased to announce that it will co-host the 5th International Meeting on the Silk Road, where stakeholders will meet to discuss how industries can work together to stimulate economic growth through strengthening tourism for the Silk Road. The objective of the meeting is to inspire greater cooperation between member states and to establish a framework to facilitate travel and create a more perfect travel experience along the Silk Road.

"There is significant potential for growth of tourism along the Silk Road, and UNWTO is giving a new impetus to this initiative," said UNWTO executive director Mr. Zoltan Somogy. "At the 5th International Meeting, expect a large participation from all regions whose contribution [will] ensure that our priority actions for next year reflect the interests of all stakeholders in the Silk Road."

To celebrate the Silk Road event, the Embassy of Uzbekistan met with consuls and the Association of Economy in Berlin on Friday, August 27, 2010.

Who's who in Central Asia
The president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, has an ambitious daughter, keen amongst other things to succeed him. She is fired by the example of Kyrgyzstan, where a woman has come to the presidency this year, Roza Otumbayeva. Karimov is reputed to be ailing; but then this has been the case for several years.

Meanwhile, Professor Gulnara Islamovna Karimova is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Uzbekistan to Spain, Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva. She is also the Director of the Centre for Political Studies (Tashkent). Not a bad array of offices while you are limbering up for supreme power, except that they presuppose ubiquity, a difficult feat for a mere mortal to attain.

Power struggle in Tashkent
Three months after the assets of Uzbekistan's largest foreign investor, Zeromax, were seized by the State Security Service, mystery still surrounds the motive behind the move.

Zeromax is widely understood to have links with the aforesaid Gulnara Karimova, Uzbekistan's richest woman with an estimated fortune of $570m. One theory is that the asset grab was part of a power struggle between Karimova and Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev, who has been the driving force for a series of attacks on successful local entrepreneurs this year. Karimova's earlier appointment as Uzbekistan's ambassador to Spain indicates she is most likely planning a future outside the country.

More prosaically, Zeromax had become increasingly loaded with an estimated $500m of debt as it was forced, like other successful Uzbek businesses, to act as a banker to failing state enterprises. Signs the company was struggling financially came earlier this year when plans to build a $150m stadium for its football club Bunyodkor were abandoned. Bunyodkor also let go Luiz Felipe Scolari, the former Chelsea manager it had hired at vast expense less than a year earlier. The government found that Zeromax wasn't paying a lot of taxes, speculates one local entrepreneur. "The background of the company was really strong, but the state decided to punish them in the struggle against all strong local businessmen."

Yet there is another explanation - that Tashkent moved against Zeromax under pressure from Russia. While relations have warmed between Russia and Uzbekistan recently, Russian oil majors are understood to have resented Zeromax's dominance within the Uzbek economy, where its tentacles stretch across sectors from oil and gas to agriculture to textiles. There are rumours that after the asset seizure, 51% of Zeromax's shares were transferred to Uzbekistan's state energy company Uzbekneftegaz - the remaining 49% to an unnamed Russian investor. 


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