Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 316 - (26/04/07)
The Wolfowitz debacle
There is no doubt that there is one person who must be enjoying considerable
schadenfreude right now over the discomfiture of Paul Wolfowitz as president of
the World Bank - that is President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan. The scandal is
just what the doctor ordered for Karimov to stuff his critics.
Pity Paul Wolfowitz, if you prefer: Every time he tries regime change, he
triggers an insurrection.
The latest revolt was launched by World Bank staffers and Western aid leaders in
response to the revelation that Wolfowitz -- who had made a crusade against
corruption the hallmark of his bumpy tenure as president of the World Bank --
may have awarded his companion a US$60,000 pay increase. A staff that had always
hated working for the intellectual architect of the Iraq war was now quite
literally shouting for his resignation, and Wolfowitz was left wandering the
corridors of the bank looking for a Green Zone in which to hide.
In his fight against corruption, Wolfowitz drew a line in the sand in
Uzbekistan, cutting off loans to its tyrant. Wolfowitz argued that Karimov had
stolen from his already impoverished public and massacred civilian
demonstrators. Wolfowitz's detractors grumbled that the real reason for the
cut-off was Karimov's July 2005 decision to deny the Bush administration the
right to use a military base there. But so what? Perhaps the right thing was
done for the wrong reasons. It's still hard to feel any sympathy for Karimov,
who is as far from democracy as Borat is from journalism.
But beyond Uzbekistan and a few other laudable aid cut offs, the Wolfowitz
programme was compromised by selective prosecution. By the bank's own measures,
54 other countries are about as corrupt as Uzbekistan, or worse. Should the bank
cut off all 54? (Actually, why not?) Wolfowitz was not willing to go that far,
alas, which left everyone confused about what his criteria really were. Pakistan
-- a linchpin of the U.S. campaign against al-Qaeda but not much more of a
paragon of clean hands and democracy than Uzbekistan -- continued to receive
oodles of World Bank money.
Ruslan boosts national pride
If schadenfreude is excited in Tashkent by Wolfowitz's plight, a very
different emotion came to the fore in mid-April, pride and delight at an unusual
sporting prowess by an Uzbek champion boxer. Sport was very important to the
Soviet regime; it is also to the Karimov one.
Ruslan Chagaev earned much more than the right to call himself the new WBA
heavyweight champion following his superb tactical victory over 7ft 1ins Nikolai
Valuev in Stuttgart on April 21st. The 28-year-old Chagaev has been bestowed
with the prestigious Buyuk Hizmatlari Uchun order for great services to his
nation after becoming only the second Uzbek in history to claim a world
professional boxing title.
"A lot of people said Valuev would be too tall and strong for me, but I
knew that while I was smaller I was much more insistent," said Chagaev
after gaining a richly deserved majority decision victory.
For Chagaev, whose athletic and precise counter-punching style befuddled his
cumbersome opponent, victory was the culmination of a quest which has also
yielded two world amateur titles - one of which was later stripped.
For Uzbekistan, and in particular their totalitarian and publicity-hungry
president Islam Karimov, it was glorious vindication of the former Soviet tactic
of aggressively seeking to boost national pride through sporting achievement.
Karimov, whose unpredictable decrees include the banning of billiards to
discourage talking about politics in public places, hailed Chagaev for his
"great contribution to improve the authority and prestige of Uzbekistan in
the international arena and bringing up youth in the spirit and love and
devotion to the motherland".
EU: Drive For Central Asia Strategy Could Shape Uzbekistan Policy
EU foreign ministers held their first debate on the bloc's evolving Central
Asian strategy in Luxembourg in late April. That blueprint is being pushed by
the current holder of the rotating EU Presidency, Germany, and could be adopted
at an EU summit in June.
But critics in Brussels fear the drive to bring coherence to the EU's approach
to energy-rich and strategically important Central Asia could come at a high
cost. Some officials have told RFE/RL that they specifically fear the EU might
be forced to ease the sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan in the wake of a bloody
security crackdown in Andijon in 2005. Uzbekistan is the region's most populous
country, and its cooperation is vital to the success of the EU's wider Central
Some member states in Brussels now suspect that in the interest of the success
of its broader Central Asian strategy, Germany may be attempting to smooth
Uzbekistan's path. Uzbekistan is just too big to be given the Wolfowitz
treatment by the EU as well.
European Commission spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann told RFE/RL today that EU
member states began to hammer out the details of the Central Asian Strategy on
"During a recent General and External Affairs Council meeting, the member
states had their first discussion, a first round of discussions, on the draft
for the EU's Central Asian Strategy, which we hope will then be adopted by the
June EU summit," she said.
All 27 EU member states agree that closer links with Central Asia are
A meeting in the Kazak capital, Astana, in late March between EU representatives
and senior Central Asian officials produced a broad agreement on the need for
such a strategy.
The EU has often recognized the region's enormous potential in contributing to
meeting the bloc's energy needs. The EU is also interested in playing a greater
role in the region and offers assistance in a wide range of fields.
A draft of the declaration the EU intends to adopt on April 23 provides a
comprehensive list of EU priorities. These include cooperation on a long list of
areas that include the rule of law, human rights, democratisation, and security.
Attached to the declaration is a list of observations relating to the situations
in some of the countries of the region. On Uzbekistan, the EU ministers are
expected to "note" that a second round of EU-Uzbek expert talks on the
Andijan events took place in Tashkent on April 2-3. The draft declaration also
announces the launch of " a regular and result-oriented human rights
dialogue" between the two sides, and says the first round of the dialogue
should take place "as soon as possible."
Dialogue On Rights
Spokeswoman Hohmann says the EU has already secured Uzbekistan's agreement
on such a dialogue.
"We are concerned about the situation in Uzbekistan, and you also know that
we are hoping for a [prompt] human rights dialogue -- which the Uzbek government
has [already] agreed to," she said.
A demonstration against Uzbek President Islam Karimov took place in Brussels in
May 2006. An EU source who requested anonymity said there is dissatisfaction
among some member states over Germany's attempts to launch an immediate human
rights dialogue with Tashkent before the bloc can debate the future of the Uzbek
The sanctions at this point consist of a visa ban on select officials associated
with the Andijon events and an arms embargo. They are due to be reviewed by EU
foreign ministers in May.
During discussions among EU ambassadors on April 17, Britain and Sweden were
said to have been particularly concerned about Uzbekistan's continuing dismal
human rights record.
Paving The Way?
A regular human rights dialogue and an international inquiry into the events
in Andijan are the two key EU conditions for lifting sanctions. Some member
states in Brussels now suspect that in the interest of the success of its
broader Central Asian strategy, Germany may be attempting to smooth Uzbekistan's
path to meeting the two conditions.
There is little to indicate that Uzbekistan can achieve genuine compliance with
either condition. One EU official today conceded that the human rights dialogue
would only take place once a year between low-level officials in a subcommittee
dealing with justice and domestic-affairs issues. Within the framework of that
dialogue, Uzbekistan can raise issues about the human rights situation in EU
member states. A similar arrangement the EU has with Russia has become a forum
for tit-for-tat comments.
The two rounds of EU-Uzbek expert talks on the Andijan events have left EU
members thoroughly frustrated. EU officials questioned by RFE/RL limited their
appraisals of the meetings to "satisfaction" at the fact that they
took place at all. Uzbekistan, on the other hand, has not given any indication
it is prepared to discuss the Andijan events with any outside organization.
On November 8, 2006, Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov told reporters after
a meeting with EU officials that the purpose of the talks would be limited to
"explaining" to EU experts the Uzbek view that the events in Andijan
were "pre-meditated terrorist acts."
EU officials said today that the situation in Central Asia was also raised at
talks that EU representatives held with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
on the sidelines of the bloc's foreign ministers' meeting on April 23.
Uzbekistan and Egypt sign ten cooperation agreements
President Mubara on 18 April received Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who paid a
three-day visit to Egypt. Talks between the two leaders tackled the latest
developments in Palestine, Iraq, Iranian nuclear file and its implications on
security in the Gulf, Central Asia and the World at large.
The talks also touched on ways of boosting Egyptian Uzbek relations in the
fields of trade, investment and economy. The talks also touched on ways of
cementing cooperation in the field of culture, tourism, science and information
and encouraging the establishment of partnerships among private sector companies
in both countries.
Presidents Mubarak and Karimov presided over an expanded session of talks
attended by delegations from both countries and tackled bilateral relations.
Then, President Mubarak hosted a lunch banquet on honour of the Uzbek President
and his accompanying delegation. In a joint statement, the two Presidents voiced
support to all efforts aimed at averting clashes among civilizations. They also
underlined the necessity of respect for religions and cultural identities and
traditions of peoples. This from Islam Karimov who had an Islamic fanatic boiled
alive because he refused to stop praying.
The two Presidents highlighted their full cooperation within the framework of
the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference to coordinate
stances on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
According to the joint statement, talks between the Egyptian and Uzbek
Presidents dealt with means of boosting bilateral cooperation in the various
domains. The two leaders voiced their support for all efforts aimed at
non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Uzbek side voiced support
for the Egyptian initiative rendering the Middle East free from weapons of mass
"President Hosni Mubarak is keen to beef up cooperation ties with Central
Asian countries," a presidential spokesman said.
In statements after the meeting between Mubarak and visiting Uzbek President
Islam Karimov on April 18th, Solaiman Awwad said the two Presidents probed the
latest developments in the Middle East and Central Asia. The talks also dwelt on
trade, economic and investment cooperation, he added.
The two leaders also discussed the outcome of the joint Egyptian-Uzbek committee
meeting in Tashkent in March. President Mubarak has made it clear months ago
that Egypt was seeking to contain crises in the region to avoid further
complications. This is evident in Egyptian efforts to address the situation in
Syria, Lebanon as well as the volatile conditions in Iraq and Darfur, he said.
On whether Egypt's efforts to activate ties with central Asian countries were
meant to address a message to Iran, Awwad said invigoration of ties is an
objective in itself rather than a means to send a message to Iran.
Cooperation with central Asian countries in the investment, trade and economic
domains is among President Mubarak's priorities, he said.
When President Mubarak meets any of the leaders of these countries, it should
not be taken within other contexts.
On recent statements by a US official on US commitment to guaranteeing Israel's
military supremacy in the region, Awwad said he would not talk of military
issues. Yet, he said Egypt hoped the US would play a neutral part in the region
to give a real push to the peace process.
Asked if Egypt would send a peacekeeping contingent to Sudan's western region of
Darfur, Awwad cited previous statements by President Mubarak rejecting that
unless the Abuja peace agreement was expanded to include all Darfur parties.
Moreover, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and Uzbek President Islam Karimov attended
on Wednesday a ceremony marking the signing of ten cooperation agreements and
memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between the two countries. The agreements
and MoUs cover the investment, banks, combating organized crime and terrorism,
culture, sport and mass media domains.
The first agreement which is represented in a MoU between the Central Bank of
Egypt (CBE) and the Central Bank of Uzbekistan was signed by CBE Deputy Governor
Tarek Amer and F. Mullajanov, the Governor of the Central Bank of Uzbekistan.
The second agreement covers cooperation between the two countries in the
investment domain. It was signed by chairman of the General Authority for
Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) Zyad Bahaa Eddin and Uzbek Minister of Foreign
and Economic Affairs Elyor Ganiev.
The third one is a cooperation agreement in the judicial domain. It was signed
by Egyptian Justice Minister Mamdouh Marie and Uzbek Foreign Minister V. Norov.
The fourth agreement which covers bilateral cooperation in the field of
combating terrorism and organized crime was signed by Egyptian Justice Minister
Mamdouh Marie and chairman of the Uzbek National Security Council R. Inoyatov.
The fifth one is a cooperation memorandum of understanding between the
Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Uzbek national library. It was inked by Minister
of Higher Education Hani Helal and his Uzbek opposite number R. Kasimov.
The sixth agreement was signed by Minister of Higher Education Hani Helal and
his Uzbek counterpart R. Kasimov. It is a protocol on culture cooperation
between the two countries.
The seventh is cooperation MoU in the sport domain. It was inked by Minister of
Higher Education Hani Helal and his Uzbek opposite number R. Kasimov.
The eighth agreement is a cooperation agreement between the Egyptian
Organization for Standardisation and Quality Control and the Uzbekistan Agency
for Standardisation, Metrology and Certification. It was hammered out by
Egyptian Administrative Development Minister Ahmed Darwish and Uzbek Minister of
Foreign Economic Relations V. Norov.
The ninth one is a protocol on cooperation between the two countries in the
information domain. It was inked by Egyptian Information Minister Anas el-Fiqi
and Uzbek Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Norov.
The tenth and last agreement is a MoU on cooperation between the Ministry of
International Cooperation and the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations,
Investments and Trade. Signing the agreement were Egyptian Minister of Economic
Development Osman Mohamed Osman and Uzbek Minister of Foreign Economic
Relations, Investments, and Trade E. Ganiev.
UT-Bank doubles assets in 2006
Uzbek-Turkish UT-Bank increased its assets 100 percent to 33.8 billion sum in
2006, a source in the bank said, Interfax News Agency reported on April 9th.
The bank's credit portfolio increased more than 200 percent to 4.7 billion sum,
and its liabilities increased 160 per cent to 26.7 billion sum, and equities -
7.6 per cent, to amount to 7.1 billion sum at the start of 2007. UT-Bank net
profit increased 28.5 per cent to 732.5 million sum in 2006. UT-Bank was set up
in 1993 and is the first bank in Uzbekistan set up with foreign capital.
Uzbekistan's Pakhtabank and Turkey's TS Ziraat Bankasi own 50 percent of the
bank's charter capital each. The Uzbek banking system currently has 28 banks, of
which five were set up with participation by foreign capital.
FOOD & DRINK
BBH, Sarbast Plus to open brewery in Tashkent
The Sarbast Plus joint venture, which is controlled by Baltic Beverages Holding
(BBH), is planning to launch production at a brewery in Tashkent in June 2007, a
source at Sarbast said, Interfax News Agency reported.
"We are planning to start production at the start of the season in
June," the source said. The construction of the brewery is in its final
stages. "Technological equipment is being installed, and is 80 percent-85
percent completed," the company representative said. The brewery will
produce one new local brand in the premium segment to be sold in the country -
Sarbast, which was developed with the use of European technologies. The joint
venture is not planning to produce the traditional BBH brands. BBH and Sarbast
Plus set up the Sarbast Plus joint venture in 2006. BBH has a 75.1 percent stake
in the joint venture, while the Uzbek Company owns 24.9 percent. The new company
is building a 59-million Euro brewery in Tashkent. The brewery has projected
production capacity of one million hectolitres of beer per year. BBH said beer
consumption in Uzbekistan, which has a population of 27 million, averages about
ten litres per person per year. The Uzbek beer market has been developing
steadily in recent years. BBH is a joint company of Denmark's Carlsberg and
Britain's Scottish & Newcastle.
Bulgaria, Uzbekistan to cooperate in several sectors
Bulgaria's Regional Development and Public Works Minister, Assen Gagaouzov,
signed a protocol on economic, scientific and technological cooperation between
Bulgaria and Uzbekistan during the second session of the Mixed Intergovernmental
Commission of Bulgaria and Uzbekistan held on April 2-6th in the capital of
Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Sofia News Agency reported.
Under the terms of the agreement, Bulgaria and Uzbekistan would cooperate in the
fields of pharmaceutical and light industries, telecommunications, environment
protection, education and health care and scientific and technological
cooperation, Bulgaria's Regional Development Ministry told Sofia News Agency.
Gagaouzov and Uzbekistan's Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade
Minister Elyor Ganiyev are Co-Chairmen of the commission. This document
supersedes the agreement on economic and trade and science and technology
cooperation, signed between the two countries in 1998. Gagaouzov launched a
Bulgarian-Uzbek business forum and presented the sectors attractive for
investment in Bulgaria, such as information and communication technologies,
electricity generation, electrical engineering, electronics, machine building,
metal processing and real assets. He said that companies specialising in
construction and environment protection have big chances in Bulgaria in the next