Uzbekistan’s multi-vector policy can be corrected

Karimov was a problematic partner for all, but still managed to serve as the chairman of SCO and to involve in the organization of such nuclear "friends” as India and Pakistan. This achievement of Karimov was mentioned by Putin as well…
A president with complicated personality 
New presidents in the post-Soviet area have emerged, all of them more frequently declaring multi-vector foreign policies and protecting the sovereignty of their countries. Some preferred Euro-Atlantic path of integration, others - Eurasian. And there are also countries such as Turkmenistan, which proclaimed policy of absolute neutrality that doesn't allow direct membership in any integrational organizations at all.
A similar course was maintained by President Islam Karimov who single-handedly governed Uzbekistan, the third most populous (25 million) country after Russia and Ukraine in the post-Soviet space, for 25 years. Manifestations of independence, special opinions on different issues would considerably distinguish the first president of Uzbekistan among his colleagues in the CIS. Quite often they felt his sensitivity, cruelty and very difficult personality on their own experience. The Kremlin always accepted him as a partner. 
The same was experience by Minsk – there is still no Uzbek embassy therefore. Recently and unexpectedly for most people, the Belarusian ambassador moved from Tashkent to Kiev, where he will head the diplomatic mission from now on. 
Questions on appointing a new Belarusian ambassador to Uzbekistan should emerge following Karimov’s passing away. After all, the multi-vector Minsk has ambassadors in other countries of Central Asia. 
 
Tashkent and SCO
 
Only few remember now how Uzbekistan, correcting its multi-vector policy, repeatedly managed to join the pro-Russian CSTO or pro-American GUAM (a regional Organization for democracy and economic development). Today Uzbekistan is not a member neither of CSTO nor GUAM, although Karimov was the initiator of the Tashkent agreement, a shield against the threat of Islamic extremism. It later turned into the CSTO, two members (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) of which have tense and explosive relations with Uzbekistan. The reason lies in interethnic contradictions and conflicts due to use of water resources.
It is worth reminding that the Uzbek ruler didn't was not persuaded about accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. Karimov rejected participation in any supranational unions. However, it was a different story with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in which Karimov managed to serve as the chairman and involve in the organization of such nuclear "friends” as India and Pakistan. This achievement of Karimov was mentioned by Putin at the recent summit of the SCO in Tashkent. It is clear, that without approval of China whose foreign policy tool the SCO belongs to, such an extension would be impossible. Just as the accession of Belarus in SCO as an observer, which was coldly accepted by Karimov.
It would be relevant to note an event that occurred literally on the eve of a funeral ceremony in Samarkand. 
On August 27, an electrified railway branch, which connects the center and Fergana Valley through a mountainous tunnel was put into operation. Previously, it was necessary to pass through to reach the other part of Uzbekistan- a situation which would often be accompanied by problems. Besides, the new road will become the most important link of the international transit corridor China – Central Asia – Europe.
According to some experts, this railway will also enable the Uzbek government to dispatch a large number of manpower to Fergana Valley for elimination of internal issues and problems with neighbors. And it increases stability of the Uzbek political regime of Uzbekistan, strengthening its relations with Beijing even more.
 
Native Samarkand
When speaking about Samarkand, Islam Karimov`s home town, an important legacy of the first Uzbek president should be noted. Last year Samarkand hosted the first forum 5+1 with participation of foreign ministers of post-Soviet Central Asian countries and the USA. President Karimov delivered a speech at the forum, setting a new format of cooperation in various spheres. This year this format continued in Washington, which could not be ignored by Moscow and Beijing. They could not ring alarm after Karimov's death.
As various experts note, today the formation of Eurasian post-imperial space is underway. This process is still observed by President Obama. But soon new presidents in the USA and Uzbekistan respectively will evaluate the situation and make decisions. Therefore, the multi-vector orientation of Uzbekistan should not be absolutized.
 
The article was originally published here.
 

Share this post