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Home / Politics / Reacting to the Reaction

Reacting to the Reaction

In the political encyclopedia, ‘expert opinion’ is referred to as one of the mechanisms for manipulating public opinion, which implies in fact appealing to the opinion of so-called ‘experts’, that is, people who are widely known and have knowledge of a particular area of specialization quite well. However, their thoughts are sometimes stereotypically embedded in the mass consciousness. Today, to help us have an understanding of some expert assessments we ask the director of the scholarly institution Caravan of Knowledge, Doctor of Political Sciences Farhod Tolipov.

- Professor of the Ukrainian National University, Doctor of Sciences Valentin Yakushik believes that the US now has the utmost respect for Uzbekistan as a sovereign state, does not even let itself hint at a possible ‘petty tutelage’ by completely ruling out what is still encountered in political practice the instructions as to with whom to make friends, and whom to avoid, whom to promote to this or other government positions, and whom to remove, what norms to bring into the legislation, and which ones of them to eliminate. What do you think about that?

- I think the notion of ‘petty tutelage’ reflects little the US policy in Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan. Even if Valentin Yakushik positively says that the US does not allow any ‘petty custody’, and in this sense they respect the sovereignty of Uzbekistan, without making any clues in matters whom we should be friends with or what norms should be introduced into legislation, then this idea gives the impression that the United States had done that before.

Considering that I have studied the US policy in the region for a long time, I note that the Americans have never allowed themselves any ‘petty tutelage’; they have never dictated who should occupy which government positions. The maximum, if it can be interpreted as an attempt to influence what the United States allowed itself to do with the Central Asian states, including Uzbekistan, is the constant demand for the development of democratic processes. In case of deviation from democratic norms, America has always expressed a critical position. At the same time, some analysts dealing with Central Asia often falsely assert that the United States, and the West in general, seeks to implant democracy under the slogan “democracy promotion”. And it often manifested itself in the form of color revolutions, cases being in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Ukraine.

In fact, ‘implanting democracy’ by the Americans, if you use such term, is not the case either. And such a presentation is rather superficial in itself. I can cite scores of quotes from American sources, where analysts, experts and even officials, perfectly aware of the impossibility of such ‘implanting democracy’, repeatedly claimed that each country opts for its own model of democracy based on circumstances and its mindset. It chooses the pace of transition and establishes democratic institutions convenient for itself. Americans perfectly understand that there cannot be one model inherent in everyone. The only thing that distinguishes the United States is that they are always critical of violations of human rights in all countries without exception. 
But they do it without any kind of guardianship, without any statement about the specific forms of government. Therefore, such terminology as ‘petty tutelage’, even if used in a positive sense, is inappropriate, since the United States has always respected our independence, our sovereignty since the first days of Uzbekistan’s independence. And, by the way, in many official documents of the United States regarding Central Asia, which can be classified as strategic, they always reiterated from one document to another their goals like support for sovereignty and independence. Perhaps they were aware that we are in a region where it is easy to lose independence because of the proximity to great powers and to be in someone’s sphere of influence. Realizing the existence of such a probability, right from the very start they appreciated the independence and sovereignty of the Central Asian states. And the assertion that the America’s hand is to blame on the revolution in Kyrgyzstan is also a big question, which deserves serious analysis and discussions. I do not claim to bear ‘the ultimate truth’ in the issue of who was behind the Kyrgyz events. But I have my own opinion and very much doubt that there were some American subversive elements behind the Osh events, and I maintain that no external force can organize a whole revolution if there are no conditions for it inside the country. Therefore, even if we assume some form of support from the West, the main subject was the population itself, who demanded change. I do not think that it is so easy physically and technically to do so, standing beyond the ocean: after all, the masses are rising. The root cause is always within the country itself.

- The Spanish political scientist, professor of San Pablo Madrid University Antonio Alonso writes that “the President of Uzbekistan is well aware that for the attraction of foreign investment into his country what is needed is a stable Afghanistan. This is a clear example of a pragmatic approach and a mutually advantageous solution, in which everyone will benefit.” Stability in Afghanistan: is that a possible reality or a distant dream?

- First, I will comment on Alonso and say that the linking of Central Asia with the situation in Afghanistan, which has often been the case in recent times in the literature, is not always justified. There are such concepts in analytics, where Afghanistan is called a Central Asian country, and such conception interferes with more objective research of Afghanistan and Central Asia separately. And, in particular, when they say that a stable Afghanistan is needed to attract investments in Central Asia – it is a distortion of facts.

Afghanistan is one problem for the world community, Uzbekistan and its development through attracting investments is a completely different autonomous issue. Whatever the situation in Afghanistan, for all the years of Uzbekistan’s independence, the influx of investments has been, perhaps, somewhere more, somewhere less. And it was not conditioned by the situation in Afghanistan.

Let’s take the last two years, the time when Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in Uzbekistan. Look at how many breakthrough contracts and deals have been signed with neighboring states and with such major powers as Russia and China. From China, for example, the President of Uzbekistan brought investments worth $ 23 billion. It turns out that the Chinese did not look back at Afghanistan and are ready to invest in the Uzbek economy. Russia also invests without regard to the Afghan situation. To be sure, a prosperous Afghanistan is an additional factor in the growth of investments in the region, no one disputes that, but the direct link given by the Spanish political scientist, with all due respect to him, is not very accurate.

By the way, the Americans will invest in our country with one main condition – namely, in the protection of human rights and the maintenance of democratic institutions. If these factors do not work, no stable Afghanistan will ensure the growth of US investments into Uzbekistan.

And answering your question: stability in Afghanistan is a possible reality or a distant dream, no matter how sad it may be, I will say that that is a distant dream.

I dealt with the problem of Afghanistan, participated in various platforms where the issue was discussed, was part of international projects related to approaches to Afghanistan and development of solutions to this problem. And my experience of communication with colleagues, including Afghan experts, gives me not quite an iridescent food for thought. And I believe that the situation of instability in Afghanistan will continue for a considerable time. And this is not connected with any terrorist attacks, extremist forces, which are settling there. This is due to the fact that long before the terrorists appeared there, Afghanistan itself was never a centralized state that fully controlled its territory. Afghanistan is a centuries-old problem, where there has always been an intertribal conflict. The country is fragmented in accordance with tribal trait, and due to continuous internecine disputes, internal split and scrapes, it has always been weakened, and “is torn where it is delicate”, which is exactly the reason the outside forces entered it.

Until a modern state is created in Afghanistan, and the state is not just a word, it is a system of attributes that includes the army, the police, border protection, punitive agencies, conflicts in that country will constantly be reproduced and weaken Afghanistan itself.

There is also such a paradox. Afghanistan needs investments, so that the economy begins to develop there, but how can major companies pour their financial resources there if the country is torn by war? And it won’t stop unless the economy starts to develop and jobs are created. And this dilemma has pursued the fate of Afghanistan for many years. Thus, it turns out to be a vicious circle.

But for me it’s obvious that Afghanistan alone cannot cope with that. To stabilize the situation there, it is necessary: on the one hand, the construction of a modern state in Afghanistan, on the other - an international peacekeeping presence in that country and international assistance for the restoration of schools, hospitals, higher educational institutions, road infrastructure.

- While Donald Trump and Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Washington talked about the importance of boosting bilateral cooperation, there appeared some articles in the Russian media, whose authors claimed that a certain strategic triangle Washington-Astana-Tashkent is being created. What, in your judgment, is that which has worried so the Russian political scientists?

- Yes, I read the article of the Russian political analyst Aydin Mehdiyev with the question in the title: “Mirziyoyev in the US: is a triumvirate created against Russia?” I must say that there is no such triumvirate; I do not even see any signs of a triumvirate. Perhaps a temporary coincidence of a new impulse in relations between Kazakhstan and the United States, on the one hand, and Uzbekistan and the United States, on the other, gave rise to some idea that these are synchronized actions of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the United States. In addition, a sharp improvement in the relations between Tashkent and Astana - all this could in turn lead to the generation of troubles of this kind.

But, in my view, even if there are any parallels, to think that behind all this there is some idea or strategic design against Russia is a fundamental blunder.

Even if Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan agreed on improving relations with the US, this does not mean that it is being done against Russia. That is, I deny the triumvirate, but even if I accept the logic of the triumvirate, I can say: so what? From this it is not necessary to make such far-reaching hasty conclusions that this is an anti-Russian project of three states. The world is not so simple; the picture of the post-Soviet space is far from being simplistic to make such very narrow geometric constructions. It’s all awfully intricate. And if we take Kazakhstan separately, then unlike Uzbekistan, this state is very open to the influence of Russia in many respects. And, crucially, has the longest land border with the Russian Federation in the form of 7 thousand km. In addition, from the first days of independence, Kazakhstan demonstrated a pro-Russian policy. In spite of official statements that Astana conducts a multi-vector foreign policy, in fact, this multi-vector nature turned out to be asymmetrical. If you look at it in a geometric plane, then you can clearly see the sharpness towards Russia. Let’s take at least the membership of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the EAEC, as there can be some kind of triumvirate, when Uzbekistan is not a member of this organization. The triumvirate would have been the case if Kazakhstan had decided to withdraw from the Eurasian Union.

In this terminology, there is a certain provocation, some alarming thought. But this is out of the question. Perhaps Russian political scientists, in the context of sanctions imposed on Russia, are looking for alternative solutions for diversifying foreign economic orientations. Although there is nothing wrong with the term ‘triumvirate’: why deny a tripartite union whose members have common interests, but this does not mean that they will be anti-Russian.
But my final statement is: there have been no triumvirates whatsoever.

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