Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre.
France’s president sought to boost ties with Uzbekistan, and FMs from Central Asian countries attended G7 online meeting.
Macron sought to bolster cooperation. President Macron 1-2 Nov visited Uzbekistan following trip to Kazakhstan (see Kazakhstan) amid efforts to strengthen ties. Sides reportedly discussed projects in agriculture and uranium, while Macron 2 Nov said countries would develop strategic partnership; Mirziyoyev praised “historic” visit and confirmed leaders had “agreed to advance bilateral relations to the level of a strategic partnership”. In interview broadcast 12 Nov, Russian FM Lavrov accused west of trying to “push” Moscow out of Central Asia. French newspaper La Tribune 26 Nov reported Macron pitched replacing Tashkent’s Russian-made fighter planes with French jets during meeting.
G7 hosted Central Asian FMs for virtual meeting. During 7-8 Nov G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan, FMs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan 8 Nov attended virtual session amid efforts by G7 to strengthen engagement with Central Asia. G7 promised to “support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries” and to strengthen cooperation on “regional challenges”, such as impact of war in Ukraine, water security and climate change.
An immigrant from Central Asia has admitted to carrying out the 31 October truck attack in New York on behalf of the Islamic State. Sayfullo Saipov left his native Uzbekistan seven years ago and U.S. and Uzbek authorities say he was radicalised in the U.S.
Uzbekistan’s first new president in more than a quarter century has taken some positive steps in the early days of his administration. In order to encourage more sustained progress, western partners and regional powers will need to balance conditional support with tactical pressure.
After 25 years of authoritarian rule, Uzbekistan faces unpredictable neighbours, a jihadi threat and deep socio-economic challenges. New President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken small steps toward vital domestic and foreign policy reform, and outside partners should push him to do more to avert real dangers ahead.
Domestic repression and self-imposed isolation has characterised Uzbekistan for much of the time since its independence in 1991. Following the death of Islam Karimov, the country’s long-time and only post-Soviet president, the outside world must seize a rare opportunity to re-engage with this critical Central Asian country.
El derrame cerebral sufrido por el histórico líder autoritario de Uzbekistán (y los rumores sin confirmar de un posible fallecimiento) ha empujado al país hacia lo desconocido, pero los más íntimos del presidente van a tratar de conservar el poder y lograr que haya los mínimos trastornos durante la transición.
Growing tensions in the Ferghana Valley are exacerbated by disputes over shared water resources. To address this, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan urgently need to step back from using water or energy as a coercive tool and focus on reaching a series of modest, bilateral agreements, pending comprehensive resolution of this serious problem.
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