27 september 2020

Central Asia news

Expert Opinion: Uzbekistan does not want to be encumbered with partnership liabilities

14.11.2008 18:24 msk


Ajdar Kurtov, an expert with Russian Institute for Strategic Researches, commented Uzbekistan's suspension of its EurAsEC membership for Stoletie.ru.

The expert particularly stressed that, the President Karimov pursues the policy that is "primarily driven by an idea of defending the national and truly egoistic interests of political elite of the country. Secondly, it is designed not to undertake liabilities to its foreign partners."

After the breakup of the Soviet Union Uzbekistan preferred a tighter control over its economy to drastic economic reforms via so-called "shock therapy," being under illusion of the planned economy's effectiveness. And that fact explains its lag in economic progress in compare with neighboring states.

"It had a painful effect on the Uzbek leadership," Kurtov explains, "As one of the ancient civilizations, Uzbekistan now found itself lagging behind its neighbors [which achieved far more tangible economic results]... By joining EurAsEC Uzbekistan hoped to get some special preferences, but at the same time it approached cautiously the joining process and legal provisions in the framework of the organization, that had already worked since the organization was established.

As a result Uzbek leadership has decided to act on its own during an ongoing economic crisis by returning to the practice of economic isolation, rigid protectionism, and unwillingness to forgo its interests for achieving common objectives.”

Secondly, explanation could lay in the “chairmanship of Kazakhstan in EurAsEC, that Uzbekistan is in rival with in Central Asian region,” Ajdar Kurtov says.

The third reason is an ecology: the climate changes and water level of the main rivers is falling down, which instantly affects agriculture in the region that is the significant portion of the population’s income. “Tashkent officials wanted to curtail individual arbitrary rights of states in controlling the cross-border rivers' perennial flow. Neither Tajikistan nor Kyrgyzstan paid duly consideration to that claims. Probably it caused Uzbekistan's resentment," the expert says.

I think that Central Asia states will face huge difficulties in long-range outlook,” Ajdar Kurtov predicts. “They are not only vulnerable to the regional water crisis, but also remain economically inconsistent. Even energy resources rich countries like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have economies that cannot insure against force majeure circumstances. So far, the region is steadily coming down to turn to a raw materials appendage not only for the West but also for the East, and particularly, for China," Russian Institute for Strategic Researches expert resumes.