Russia seeks closer ties with Uzbekistan: expert Bruce Pannier

Politics Materials 24 December 2009 18:07 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 24 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova /

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Uzbekistan testifies that Russia wants to restore closer ties with Uzbekistan, U.S expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier said.

Lavrov paid his working visit to Uzbekistan on Dec. 21-22. During the visit, issues of cooperation and bilateral relations between Russia and Uzbekistan were discussed. The sides also discussed issues of cooperation and security in the region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit to Uzbekistan can be considered as control, Freedom radio expert Pannier said.

Russia's relations with Uzbekistan have aggravated in 2009. It was accompanied with warming of relations between Tashkent and the West.

In his speech at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Lavrov said the Central Asian states should find a mutually acceptable solution to the water problem in the region and that environmental concerns need to be taken into account.

"It significantly supports the Uzbek position on construction of hydropower stations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, so Lavrov's words seem to indicate Moscow's support for Tashkent," Pannier told Trend via e-mail.

This fact is remarkable because Russian companies participate in construction and launch of hydropower stations in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, expert said.

"A conclusion can be made that Russia is trying to restore close relations with Uzbekistan," Pannier said.

Moscow would like to improve relations with Tashkent because it is not interested in estrangement of post-Soviet countries from the Eurasian Economic Community, the CSTO and, CIS, expert said.

Uzbek-Russian relations always improve after high-level visits but usually that only lasts for a short time, Pannier said.

At present, rapprochement with Moscow is important for Uzbekistan as it is on the eve of the parliamentary elections to be held this Sunday.

If the Western countries strongly criticize the elections, Uzbekistan will be able to apply to Russia for support, like after the May 2005 Andijan massacre, Pannier said.

It is significant that Russia is sending officials to Uzbekistan and not Uzbekistan sending officials to Russia, he said.

At present, a level of the Uzbek-Russian relations can be estimated as low. But they have rarely been good, Pannier said.

"The only time ties between the two countries were strong was after Andijan until about mid-2008," expert said.

"As long as the internal situation in Uzbekistan is stable and there are no outside threats, Uzbekistan will keep Russia "at arms length," Pannier said.

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