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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)

Books on Uzbekistan


Update No: 361 - (28/01/11)

Craig Murray on Central Asia
A leading authority on Central Asia, the highly controversial Craig Murray, former UK ambassador from in 2002to 2004, offers a sweeping review of the region’s path from independence to the post-9/11 world. The first decade of independence was disappointing for those who envisaged a straightforward transition from Soviet republics to independent states with market economies and democratic political systems. Leaders excused political failures by pointing to security risks, including the presence of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

The situation changed dramatically after 9/11: the camps were largely destroyed and the United States introduced a military presence. More importantly, the international community engaged with these states, to give them a "second chance" to address social and economic problems. But neither the aid-givers nor recipients were willing to approach problems in new ways. Now, terrorist groups are once again making their presence felt, and some states may be becoming global security risks. Murray's articles and books explore how the region squandered its second chance and what might happen next.

Auguries not good
Uzbekistan has the least legitimacy of any of the Central Asian regimes. Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and even Pakistan are at least paying lip service to democracy in the most trying times imaginable.

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are definitely autocracies, with plenty of political prisoners, but they are not boiled alive or drowned, as in Uzbekistan. It was Murray's public denunciation of these dreadful abuses that led to his early recall in 2004. In May 2005, as if to confirm the worst of his predictions, hundreds of people, perhaps as many as 500, are known to have been mown down in Andijan in Fergana Valley. Further reprisals do not bear thinking about.

Books are banned, except of a purely functional, technical sort. It is a peculiarly Eastern totalitarian state.

The evil genius
The moving spirit behind the regime is Islam Karimov, president since the collapse of communism. He is the only other such long-timer in the former Soviet Union. But Nazarbayev has a cornucopia of resources to offer his people. Karimov has only repression.

The Grim Reaper seems the only hope. There have been rumours of his possessing a deadly disease for years. It looks like wish-fulfilment.

The next in line elder daughter, Karimova, is as corrupt as they come. But she may be more humane. The repression is counter-productive, directed against a religion that thrives on martyrs. However, the Uzbeks drink vodka and have a secular outlook. She is more likely to be under Western influence. She is a social activist (opening kindergartens and the like), a businesswoman, singer and diplomat (Uzbek ambassador to Spain). She is also friendly with Bill Clinton and recently opened a fashion show in New York.

She has never uttered a word of criticism of her father. But it would be folly for her to do so, if she wants to succeed him, which she does. But he is only 72, with the best medical treatment in the world. They may have a long wait.

Karimov and the EU
In 2005 after the mass killing of hundreds of protesters the EU imposed sanctions, including a visa ban and an arms embargo and demanded an independent inquiry into the killings. Six years is a long time in politics and in January 2011 Karimov was a welcome visitor to Brussels. Sanctions were dropped by the EU two years ago and nobody was held to account for the killings. Why the change in policy? Could it be that the EU (and NATO) need Uzbek cooperation in maintaining supply routes to Afghanistan, and also have an eye on Uzbekistan’s energy reserves? José Manuel Barroso, the commission president, stated that he had pressed Karimov hard on human rights and political prisoners during talks on security and energy. It seems unlikely that Karimov, hardened old Stalinist that he is, will lose any sleep over that. The EU claims to be a champion of universal values and human rights but its attitude to Uzbekistan and other dictatorships suggests its political, economic, commercial and strategic interests will always come first.
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