Rammell Visit Cancelled

by Nathan Hamm on 3/1/2005

Well, someone’s getting touchy.

Uzbekistan has cancelled a planned visit by a British Foreign Office minister because of his insistence on discussing its human rights record.

Bill Rammell had been due to fly to Uzbekistan tomorrow for talks with the government.

But it has now called off the trip, refusing to discuss international concerns over its human rights record.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “The trip has been cancelled. It is the Uzbek government’s decision in response to the minister’s undertaking to continue to press over human rights.”

It’s rather hard to defend the Uzbek government from some of its more excessive critics when it refuses to even talk to Western officials that want to bring up human rights. I’m not sure if Rammell was making an enormous deal about the issue, but still…

P.S. This is a fairly good example of the uneven reform I was talking about. One day they’ll be agreeing to foreign monitors visiting prisons and the next they’ll be freaking out at the mere suggestion that something might be amiss.

UPDATE: More from UzReport:

Uzbek government found it impossible to receive UK Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell in Tashkent on 2 March after his “ unacceptable and impolite statements” on Uzbekistan, a statement of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry dated 27 February said.

And, the impolite statements were:

Speaking ahead of his visit Mr Rammell said: “The issue of human rights in Uzbekistan is of serious concern, and I believe that critical engagement is the best way to improve the situation. I will be pressing the Uzbek Government about human rights.

“During my trip I will meet senior members of the Government of Uzbekistan. I intend to listen to the Uzbek Government’s plans for democratic and economic development, to build respect for human rights and ensure the rule of law, and to discuss ways in which the UK might assist,” he said.

Doesn’t sound terrible, but it looks like the Uzbeks were looking for an excuse.

“Due to commencing pre-election campaign, a new wave of those not very clean political technologies is observed in Britain. It is clear now that both ex-ambassador Craig Murray and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary Bill Rammell are going to use the initiated by themselves issues of ‘human rights’ in Uzbekistan strictly in the interests of pre-election campaign,” the statement said.

The statement added: “Uzbekistan is a country with ancient history and culture. Its government is open to discuss the issues of an equal and mutually beneficial cooperation, however, it does not recognize the right for anybody to ‘press’ it. Intentions to approach the dialogue with Uzbekistan in such a manner are unacceptable and counterproductive.”

The Foreign Ministry went on to say that the British politicians do not ever draw any attention to positive developments. I can kind of understand where they’re coming from on that one, it’s a complaint I share about more than just the British officials in question.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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