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Uzbekistan is rehearsing eventual withdrawal from the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization

16.04.2009 13:08 msk

Vremya Novostei

Analytics Uzbekistan

Council of Foreign Ministers of the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (Organization) meeting in Yerevan, Armenia, today would have hardly attracted attention were it not for Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Regnum news agency reported Uzbekistan's official refusal to attend the meeting, yesterday.

Well-informed Armenian diplomats say that off record, their Uzbek colleagues attribute the unexpected decision of their government to the low level of representation at the meeting. Apart from Armenia and Russia who will be represented by their foreign ministers, all other Organization members delegated deputy foreign ministers to the meeting.

In any event, sources in the Armenian Foreign Ministry suspect that Tashkent's demarche is more likely to signify beginning of its gradual withdrawal from the Organization. Officials of the Uzbek Embassy in Moscow refused to confirm or deny reports on Tashkent's refusal to attend the meeting in Yerevan. One of them assumed, however, that Tashkent could have found the meeting agenda too routine to bother with attendance.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the meeting in Yerevan is slated to "endorse memorandum of cooperation between secretariats of the Organization and the UN, discuss and agree on the date and the site of the next meeting, and discuss joint efforts of Organization members to facilitate stability in Afghanistan and dam the flood of trafficking from it through cooperation with the involved countries and international and regional organizations."

Presence of "Afghani issues" on the agenda is probably what peeved official Tashkent in the first place. Uzbekistan stays clear of the efforts to restore order in Afghanistan that are becoming truly global nowadays. Uzbekistan became the only country that declined invitations to two international conferences on Afghanistan (in Moscow and the Hague) in late March. Official Tashkent is riled that President Islam Karimov's suggestion to revive the 6+2 Afghani Group at the NATO summit in Bucharest last year was essentially ignored. This structure had existed until September 11, 2001, and included Russia, United States, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan. Karimov suggested adding NATO to it and transforming the group into 6+3.

Besides, the conference in Yerevan is also scheduled to discuss implementation of the decision of the Moscow summit of the Organization (February 4, 2009) to put together Strategic Response Collective Forces. Once again, Uzbekistan had a separate opinion on the matter then and decided against having to discuss it now.

It is impossible to say with any degree of accuracy at this point that Tashkent's demarche is necessarily a prelude to its eventual withdrawal from the Organization. On the other hand, an analogous turn of events did predate Uzbekistan's withdrawal from the Eurasian Economic Community last autumn. Official Tashkent then said that it was through with membership in a structure where its opinion was "ignored". Analysts decided that the Organization was the next regional structure Uzbekistan would pull out from before long.

On the other hand, Uzbekistan never formally withdrew from the Eurasian Economic Community because it had never formally joined it in the first place. Tashkent never signed all the agreements within its framework that would have made it a fully-fledged participant. Same thing with the Organization. Uzbekistan applied for membership in 2005 when it was in danger of finding itself in international isolation for the brutal suppression of riots in Andijan when 187 had been massacred (according to official estimates). Once again, Tashkent refrained from signing the whole package of documents.

On the other hand, Tashkent's entrance into and withdrawal from international organization essentially on a whim is common knowledge. (There was also GUAM experience several years ago observers cannot help recalling nowadays.)

Arkady Dubnov, Vremya Novostei, No 65, April 16, 2009, p. 2. © Translated by Ferghana.Ru