FREE GEOPOLITICAL NEWSLETTER

uzbekistan  

For current reports go to EASY FINDER

UZBEKISTAN


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

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: 300- (01/01/06)

Back to Post-Soviet business
There is no doubt that the massacre in Andijan in May last year, in which hundreds were killed, has changed everything. Uzbekistan is no longer a Western ally in Central Asia. The US is to leave its base in Karshi-Khanabad, close to the Afghan border, since its condemnation of the appalling events in May. 
The ghastly dictatorial regime is naturally looking back to Russia. Karimov continues to vilify the United States and the EU. In a December 7th speech, the Uzbek leader suggested that the US democratisation strategy was ill-conceived. "There is not and cannot be a single model of universal democracy," Karimov said. "I think it is short-sighted for a country that views itself as the most powerful country to say that its own model of democracy is applicable everywhere." 
"Think for yourselves, dear friends, exporting democracy and introducing it forcibly from abroad is in itself against the nature of the concept of democracy," Karimov added. This at least introduces a philosophical dimension to the dispute.

Westward- ho - yes, towards Russia
Uzbekistan has rapidly developed into what some analysts describe as Russia's "largest strategic bridgehead" in Central Asia. A mutual security pact, concluded in November, opens the way for the establishment of a Russian military base on Uzbek territory. Moscow is also looking to rapidly expand its economic influence in the Central Asian nation. 
Uzbek leader Islam Karimov and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the security pact in Moscow on November 14. The signing ceremony occurred a week before the last US military aircraft departed from an Uzbek air base at Karshi-Khanabad, culminating a process that started with the Karimov administration's eviction order in late July. 
Russian political analysts have described the recent turn of geopolitical events in Uzbekistan as a great "victory for Russian diplomacy." Alexei Malashenko, a Central Asia expert at the Moscow Carnegie Centre, asserted in an interview published by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper that the restoration of Russia's position in Uzbekistan had been one of the Kremlin's top geopolitical priorities. Russian leaders, however, show no signs of contentment with recent diplomatic successes. Some analysts believe that Moscow will continue to expand its influence across Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan. 
The Uzbek-Russian pact creates the possibility of the establishment of a permanent Russian base in Uzbekistan. But Russian officials say there is no hurry to place Russian troops in the country. Uzbek troops "are capable of preserving peace and stability on the border with Afghanistan on their own." 
Eventually, Russia may try to set up a forward operating base in Uzbekistan with a relatively small number of troops, Sergei Karaganov, the chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, suggested in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio. Such a facility could be rapidly expanded, if circumstances warranted such action. "The prospect of rendering mutual assistance in the event of conflict is [in itself] a deterrent," Karaganov said. 
As Uzbekistan becomes strategically dependent on Moscow, other analysts say, the Kremlin will look to expand economic ties, aiming to secure a prominent role for the Russian energy giants Gazprom and Lukoil in several lucrative oil and gas projects in Uzbekistan. Some experts also suggest that Russia will press Karimov on a debt-for-assets swap, in which Russia would forgive Uzbekistan's roughly US$500 million debt in exchange for control over two strategic aircraft factories. 
The process of Uzbekistan's economic re-integration into Russian-dominated structures is already underway. Tashkent has applied for membership in the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), according to Grigoriy Rapota, the secretary-general of the organization. "The application is under consideration at present," the Kyrgyz news agency Kabar reported Rapota as saying in a report distributed December 8th. 
There are a few Russian analysts who are wary of Moscow's deepening involvement with the Karimov administration. The dissenting voices warn that the short-term strategic gains achieved by the signing of the mutual defence pact could be wiped out over the longer term. They add that Karimov's hold on power may be tenuous, given the large and perhaps growing domestic opposition to his rule. They are also alarmed that the Karimov administration has done little to address the economic complaints that serve as the foundation of popular discontent. This leaves open the possibility that Russia could get sucked into what would be essentially an Uzbek civil war pitting the Karimov administration against its opponents. 
Strong Russian support for Karimov also stands to be a source of friction in Russia's relations with the United States and the European Union, a few analysts in Moscow suggest. Both the United States and European Union demanded an independent investigation into the Andijan events, in which Uzbek troops killed hundreds of civilians. Uzbekistan's refusal to comply has prompted the United States and the EU to take retaliatory action. 

Murray on the warpath
It is relevant to point out here that there is someone who is determined to keep the real nature of the Uzbek regime in the public eye in the West; that is former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. The former ambassador was squeezed out of his post by the Foreign Office in 2004 after criticising the human rights record of the Uzbek government. He is turning to a number of different forums in the US and the UK, the two Western countries with strong ties and support for the Tashkent government before the bloody events of May. 
Since the appalling massacre of May 13th in Andijan in the eastern part of the Ferghana Valley near to Kyrgystan, whence hundreds of Uzbeks fled, relations have soured. The US arranged for refugees being threatened with return to Uzbekistan to be flown instead to Romania, and for some onwards to other countries offering asylum. Tashkent responded by obliging the Americans to vacate the military base that they were leasing in Karsi-Khanabad on the Afghan border. Washington then cancelled payment of rent of the base for the last two years. London, as ever, took its cue from its Transatlantic mentor. Uzbekistan is no longer a favourite.
Murray saw that his moment has come once again. He is the one man who has been thoroughly vindicated. He is championing human rights, not only in Uzbekistan, but also those of the people being detained in the West's own campaign against terrorism. He has not only Washington, but the British government in his sights.

Human rights violations lead to increased isolationism
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a private, international communications service to Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia, funded by the US Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Uzbekistan is, therefore, in its brief.
The increasingly isolated totalitarian government there keeps itself in power through massive human rights violations and a system of slave labour, according to Murray. He told a recent RFE/RL audience in Washington that "the Uzbek government is not a model of Southeast Asian development; rather, it is much closer to North Korea." 
"Torture," said Murray "is the tip of totalitarian state control in Uzbekistan." According to Murray, there are at least 10,000 political prisoners in Uzbekistan and 99 per cent of all trials in Uzbekistan result in confessions. Murray, who "fell out" with his government over policies in Uzbekistan, claimed that much of the information passed to the British MI-5 and other intelligence agencies is unreliable, because prisoners are tortured and their children and relatives are threatened with torture. "The intelligence is rubbish," he said, "people who have been tortured will sign up for anything." 
"The Uzbek economy is not reforming," according to Murray. With "60 per cent of the Uzbek population tied to the rural kolkhoz system," Murray said these "serfs or bonded labour," particularly on the state cotton farms, assure a cheap labour force for the government while dampening political dissent. An average wage for farm workers is two dollars per month, Murray said, while an Uzbek factory worker earns on average 28 dollars per month and even those are "paid months in arrears, or often in-kind." According to Murray, "one-third of the population, including children as young as six or seven, are dragooned" to help with the cotton harvest. 
Murray also described the Karimov government's economic stranglehold in Uzbekistan. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Uzbekistan has "dried up," Murray said, because foreign investors are treated poorly. Murray said that he thinks Uzbekistan is "looking to Gazprom and the Russian government" as a model of economic development. According to Murray, President Karimov fears that "a little liberalization would lead to independent thought" in Uzbekistan, so the Russian business model is the one most helpful to Karimov. Murray is "not surprised" by the trial of 23 businessmen in Andijan earlier this year, because "the [Uzbek] government can't stand any private sector to exist outside the control of the [government] party." 
Murray concluded that, until recently, Western governments were "complicit" in the actions of the Uzbek government by permitting "certification [for continued foreign aid]." He urged the international community to apply more pressure on the Uzbek government over its violations of human rights.

« Top

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Uzbekistan to attract 900m Euro in foreign investment 


A government spokesman announced on November 18 that Uzbekistan intends to attract 900 million Euro in foreign investment to fund 134 projects in 2006, Interfax News Agency reported. 
The representative of the external economic relations and foreign investment department said the country would attract about 365 million Euro in secured loans for 47 projects and about 553 million Euro in foreign direct investment (FDI) for 87 projects, with five major energy projects accounting for 30 per cent of FDI. Some of the projects highlighted by the spokesman were Russian oil major LUKoil who will develop natural gas deposits in the central Bukhara region and conduct geological surveys in the northwestern Ustyurt region; Swiss company Zeromax GmbH who will conduct oil and gas exploration in the southwestern region of Guissar and Malaysia's Petronas who will conduct exploration in the southern part of the country.

« Top

 

« Back

 


 
Published by 
Newnations (a not-for-profit company)
PO Box 12 Monmouth 
United Kingdom NP25 3UW 
Fax: UK +44 (0)1600 890774
enquiries@newnations.com