UZBEK ISSUE IN ODKB

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So, an important event occurred in history of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (ODKB). Last week, Uzbekistan lifted the moratorium for participation in ODKB and became its equal member at the summit of heads of the member states of the ODKB and Eurasian Economic Cooperation. Observers called this fact the main event of the Belarusian summit, although on the eve of the summit many observers predicted probability of such actions on the part of Tashkent with caution. Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled all doubts about the entrance of Uzbekistan into ODKB. Putin said, “We not only just took into account but took with pleasure the report of the Uzbek partners that they lifted their moratorium for active work in the framework of our organization.”

What gives restoration of membership in the ODKB to Tashkent? What is the reason for such steps of Islam Karimov, unchanged leader of Uzbekistan? Many experts are unanimous in answers to these questions. They say that in its foreign policy the regime of Karimov has got fully reoriented at contacts with Russia and its allies. After the events in Andizhan in May of 2005, official Tashkent adopted an anti-American stance suspecting Washington of their organization. The US and the West negatively estimated the role of Uzbek authorities in liquidation of the consequences of the mutiny in Andizhan. Russia supported Tashkent being very afraid of repetition of the “colored revolutions” in the post-Soviet countries.

In November of 2005, Karimov signed a treaty on ally relations with Russia, unprecedented in the post-Soviet history. This was not a secret that this document was beneficial primarily for Uzbekistan.

Islam Karimov stated with pride then, “After coming of this treaty into effect any threats aimed against Uzbekistan and attempts of invasion into our territory will be equal to a threat to Russia and, naturally, will not leave this country being one of the most powerful in the world indifferent.” Experts presumed that Russian military bases will appear on the territory of Uzbekistan after signing of the treaty including the former American airfield in Hanabad. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov denied these forecasts saying that Russian military presence in Central Asia was already sufficient and there was no need for additional troops in Uzbekistan. This statement probably frustrated Karimov. Presence of Russian forces would help Tashkent to reduce expenditures on provision of military security of the country. Moreover so that Uzbekistan spends more than 5% of the GDP on this purpose, which is the largest in the CIS.

Tashkent did not receive the desired result from the treaty and evidently decided to try from the other side restoring its membership in the ODKB. First of all, it gives a possibility to buy Russian weapons at low prices. Second, this lets Uzbekistan hope for assistance in collective defense again. Nobody can deny possibility of repetition of the events in Andizhan. The authoritarian regime of Karimov drove the national economy into a deep crisis and placed the population on the brink of survival. Evidently foreseeing people’s unrest Karimov decided to protect himself. Top-ranking officials of the ODKB are planning to establish peacekeeping units of the organization. Commenting on the events in Minsk, the PR service of the Uzbek President placed emphasis on the mechanism existing in the ODKB for provision of military assistance to its participants should they be exposed to external attack. In internal conflicts in the territory of the country, it is always possible to find traces of external aggression in the form, for example, militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. This means that troops of the ODKB would be useful for resolving possible inter-ethnic and religious conflicts there.

Thus, plans of Uzbekistan to enter the ODKB have come true. This circumstance shows that this organization is demanded in the post-Soviet space and that Russia implements its geopolitical plans successfully. Today the ODKB dominates almost in entire territory of the former Soviet Central Asia except for Turkmenistan. No real results from its activities are seen yet. At any rate, this does not mean that the organization has no prospects. New entrance of Uzbekistan into ODKB is also a certain political result.

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