New Attitude, Same Old Behavior

by Nathan Hamm on 4/16/2007 · 1 comment

One wonders what the devil EU officials could possibly point to as evidence that Uzbekistan’s government is changing its attitude. Sure, they are meeting to talk about building a better relationship and allowing a few study groups through for tours of Potemkin villages, but when it comes right down to it, the Uzbek government is down to the same-old same-old, the latest evidence of which comes in the form of their shuttering of Human Rights Watch’s operations in Uzbekistan.

Longtime readers know I am no big fan of Human Rights Watch. In my opinion, their political proposals are rarely more sophisticated than playground admonitions to play nice and share. But they do a damned fine job of monitoring and reporting on human rights abuses — they are the canary in the coalmine, if you will. They are now pointing out that the human rights situation is deteriorating while some in Europe are trying to claim that the Uzbek track record is improving ahead of a vote on whether or not to lift sanctions.

Now I do not think the sanctions are particularly effective, and I also believe that there is nothing so wrong with Europe trying to build a stronger relationship with Uzbekistan. What troubles me though is that some in the EU seem awfully committed to carrying water for Karimov’s government by claiming against plenty of evidence to the contrary that there are signs that Uzbekistan is interested in liberalization. Creating new partnerships like this all but guarantees that European policy will be a dismal failure. Uzbekistan’s government is doing a fine job of communicating that it will not build a relationship with Europe that it feels harms its sovereign interests. The least that Europe could do is not ask to be lied to and taken advantage of.


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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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{ 1 comment }

Botir April 18, 2007 at 5:01 am

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