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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)

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Update No: 333 - (25/09/08)

Central Asia is central to the world
Uzbekistan is in the eye of the storm. The Taleban appear to be closing in on Kabul, of all things. The West's Afghan war has gone disastrously wrong.

Uzbekistan, with its long frontier with Afghanistan, is deeply involved. It gave the Americans bases on the frontier. The US broke off relations with it after the horrible massacre at Andijan in May 2003, losing the bases, now partially restored.

Russia immediately made haste to re-establish ties to its former henchman, the cornerstone of Central Asia. It has the inestimable advantage of not being a schoolmarm. It is not going to preach about human rights.

Putin Clinches Deal for Uzbek Pipeline
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on September 15 secured agreement from Uzbekistan to start building a new gas pipeline to Russia in a deal that bolsters Moscow's sway over Central Asian energy supplies.

In the wake of Russia's war with Georgia, it also strengthens Moscow's hand with the European Union, which has been looking to secure energy supplies that bypass Russia.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov, after meeting with Putin in Tashkent on that day, announced that the new pipeline would carry up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, boosting Russian imports by 50 percent.

Gazprom will set up a joint venture with Uzbekneftegaz to construct the Uzbek leg of the pipeline along the existing transit route that begins in Turkmenistan and runs through Kazakhstan before reaching Russia, the Russian company said in a statement. 

The four countries adopted a plan in May 2007 to expand that route, and Uzbekistan, which is sandwiched between Turkmenistan to the south and Kazakhstan to the north, was the first to move ahead with the plan.

"We are interested in this both in commercial terms and as part of the responsibilities that we have as Russia's ally," Karimov said, Interfax reported.

The existing transit pipelines in the area, known as the Central Asia-Center and Central Asia-Urals pipelines, have the capacity for 54 bcm, Karimov said. Putin said Turkmen and Uzbek export potential was growing.

"We have a common interest in implementing this project," he said of the effort to expand the pipelines.

Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan plan a separate pipeline that would also take Turkmen and Kazakh gas north to Russia. That pipeline would transport 20 bcm, and construction is scheduled to start late this year or early next year, Gazprom said on its web site.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has been among the strongest European critics of Russia's military actions in Georgia, on September 21 called for an end to the "energy stranglehold" of Europe by Russia, in a commentary on the situation. To diversify away from Russia as an energy supplier would mean to insist on building the Nabucco pipeline, from Turkey through the Balkans, which would compete for resources from the same area where Russia is making progress.

With their energy exports, some of the Central Asian nations are making an effort to balance the geopolitical interests of the West with those of Russia and another key regional player, China. Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan have not ruled out a westward route across the Caspian Sea that would bypass Russia, inevitably through Georgia, the only such corridor available. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also entertain plans to send some of their gas eastward to China. 

Russia's deal with Uzbekistan was not specifically planned to send a signal to the European Union, which issued stern warnings to Russia on Monday over its use of force in Georgia last month, said Pavel Baev, an energy expert at the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo. But it does underline the poor feasibility of the Nabucco pipeline, which has been scrambling for resources, he said.

By winning Uzbekistan's agreement on the pipeline, Russia wants to show that it makes most sense as a conduit between Central Asian energy riches and Europe, said Leonid Grigoryev, president of the Energy and Finance Institute, a Moscow think tank.

On Tuesday, Russia also approved a formula that will give Uzbekistan a "European price" for the gas that it sells to Gazprom, Putin and Gazprom said. Gazprom has yet to formulate a specific price for gas imports from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. It re-exports the Central Asian gas to Gazprom. LUKoil, Russia's second-largest oil producer, are carrying out gas production and exploration projects in Uzbekistan. LUKoil is planning to invest $5 billion over the next seven years to bring gas production there to 12 bcm, company president Vagit Alekperov confirmed in Tashkent on Tuesday.

Uzbekistan also agreed to buy weapons from Russia and cooperate on space exploration. 
But of course all these are plans. They have a purchase on the future. 

The Uzbek Princess
Karimov is rumoured to be in bad health. In dictatorships across the globe, the likely successor is the next of kin.

Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the Uzbek president, dubbed the "Uzbek princess," has been appointed as the country's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. Uzbek Foreign Ministry officials have been quoted as saying Karimova took up the post in September and is currently working in Geneva. The UN confirmed that Karimova20had been appointed. 

The 36-year-old Harvard-educated daughter of President Islam Karimov is an important political and business figure in Uzbekistan, as well as a singer and poet. 

She has reportedly amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune unsurprisingly using her family connections. Her assets reportedly include bank and investment holdings in Dubai and Geneva; also a retail complex, nightclubs, and a holiday resort in her native Uzbekistan. She is the head of the Uzbekistan-based Zeromax Group, which is involved in the country's mining, gas, and oil industries. 

In the past, Karimova has only acknowledged being involved in jewellery design and a mobile-phone company. She is officially in charge of a number of humanitarian organizations and promotes art, youth education, and sports. 

The "Uzbek princess" made international headlines in 2002 after her acrimonious divorce with her Afghan-American husband Mansur Maqsudi. A wealthy businessman in his own right, Maqsudi was granted by a U.S. court, sole custody of the couple's two children, Karimov’s grandchildren, except that long before the court hearing, Karimova had taken the children back to Uzbekistan and did not appear in the U.S. court hearings. Her actions led to a warrant being issued in the United States for her arrest. 

Critics of the Uzbek president, of whom there are a few, say that by appointing his eldest daughter to a diplomatic post, obviously having the immunity that goes with it, Karimov is mostly interested in protecting and legitimising his family's fortune....

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