By Rafik Saifulin
A visit of Uzbek President Islom Karimov to Moscow on April 19-20 should be considered as a starting point to forecast the development of Uzbekistan-Russia relations in the near future.
No doubt, the visit was expected not only by Tashkent and Moscow. For objective reasons today Uzbekistan-Russia relations in many respects determine the “mosaic of various interests” built in Central Asia by the region’s states and many external players. That’s why the fact itself that the highest level meetings and negotiations, which took place in Moscow, is of importance, though some arising questions are hard to answer.
Nevertheless, quite evident truths appeared during the visit.
Tashkent said again that Uzbekistan-Russia relations are strategic, and that Russia plays a key role in ensuring global and especially regional security and stability in Central Asia.
It seems the military and political constituent of Russia-Uzbekistan relations could be recognized as the most “advanced”. This is shown by the agreements on military and technical cooperation for 2010-2012. All of that is very significant as the question “Who are Uzbekistan’s allies?” arises from time to time.
This question is of particular importance with account taken of the perpetual conflict in Afghanistan and the recent coup in Kyrgyzstan.
One can suppose that Uzbekistan and Russia, recognizing the importance of the international community’s efforts to settle the conflicts in the region and the necessity to help the international community in doing that, will cooperate more closely in those processes.
The issue of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan is more complicated. The Russian and Uzbek Presidents, Dmitry Medvedev and Islom Karimov, did not conceal poor condition of the economic cooperation between the countries and did not blame the global economic crisis for it. This is an optimistic approach, as the both sides are going not only to take a sober view of things, but also to solve the existing problems together, including by carrying on a dialogue that was seriously encouraged this year. From now on, the governments should not lose momentum.
Dmitry Medvedev’s gratitude to Uzbekistan for its care of the Russian language and literature was given much attention during the negotiations. This indicates that the sphere of humanitarian and cultural cooperation is expected to have rosy prospects.
So, Islom Karimov’s visit yielded good results. The confidential atmosphere at the negotiations may encourage the politicians, who are willing to strengthen the friendship and to expand and deepen Russia-Uzbekistan cooperation.
Rafik Saifulin is a political analyst based in Tashkent. This article was published by Eurasian Home – an analytical and information resource bringing together experts, politicians and journalists from the New Independent States, Russia, European Union, Asia and America.