United States–Uzbekistan relations
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Uzbek–American relations most importantly begun when the United States recognized the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991, and opened an Embassy in Tashkent in March 1992. U.S.-Uzbekistan relations developed slowly and reached a peak following the U.S. decision to invade Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Relations cooled significantly following the "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-2005, and the Government of Uzbekistan sought to limit the influence of U.S. and other foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on civil society, political reform, and human rights inside the country.
Relations improved slightly in the latter half of 2007, but the U.S. continues to call for Uzbekistan to meet all of its commitments under the March 2002 Declaration of Strategic Partnership between the two countries. The declaration covers not only security and economic relations but political reform, economic reform, and human rights. Uzbekistan has Central Asia's largest population and is vital to U.S., regional, and international efforts to promote stability and security.
According to a 2002 global opinion poll, 85% of Uzbekistanians view the United States favorably, compared with only 10% who viewed the U.S. negatively. According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 40% of Uzbeks approve of U.S. leadership, with 22% disapproving and 39% uncertain.
Trade and investment
Trade relations are regulated by a bilateral trade agreement, which entered into force January 14, 1994. It provides for extension of most-favored-nation trade status between the two countries. The U.S. additionally granted Uzbekistan exemption from many U.S. import tariffs under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP status) on August 17, 1994. A Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed December 16, 1994; it has been ratified by Uzbekistan and received advice and consent of the U.S. Senate in October 2000. However, the Bilateral Investment Treaty will be unlikely to enter into force until Uzbekistan embarks on economic reform. The government is taking some modest steps to reduce the bureaucratic restraints on the nascent private sector.
The United States' humanitarian and technical assistance to Uzbekistan has decreased markedly since 2004, both as a result of government actions against U.S. implementing partners and U.S. Government restrictions on aid. Since its independence, the U.S. has provided technical support to Uzbekistan's efforts to restructure its economy and to improve its environment, education, and health care system, provided support to nascent NGOs, and provided equipment to improve water availability and quality in the Aral Sea region. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Embassy's Public Affairs Section, the U.S. Government continues to support educational and professional exchanges and other programs that offer Uzbeks the opportunity to study in the United States and to establish professional contacts with their American counterparts. The Departments of State and Defense provide technical assistance in the form of equipment and training to enhance Uzbekistan's control over its borders and its capabilities to interdict the illicit movement of narcotics, people, and goods, including potential weapons of mass destruction-related items. In FY 2003, the United States provided roughly $87.4 million in humanitarian aid, technical assistance, military-to-military funding, and micro-credit support in Uzbekistan. U.S. assistance grew to approximately $101.8 million in FY 2004, but fell to $92.6 million in FY 2005. These programs were designed to promote market reform and to establish a foundation for an open, prosperous, democratic society. Starting in 2004, the Secretary of State has been unable to certify that Uzbekistan has met its obligations under the bilateral 2002 Strategic Framework Agreement. As a result, U.S. assistance declined to approximately $20 million in FY 2006.
However after the supply routes through Pakistan were interrupted in 2012, the ban on military assistance to Uzbekistan was pragmatically lifted.
USAID provides both technical and humanitarian assistance. Technical assistance to Uzbekistan promotes sound fiscal and management policies, a strengthened business-enabling environment, enhanced competitiveness of the agribusiness sector, increased citizens' participation in civil society and economic decision making, improved sustainability of social benefits and services, reduced environmental risks to public health, and other multi-sector reform programs. The USAID/Central Asian Republics Uzbekistan health program focuses on four chief needs: primary health care reform, HIV/AIDS and infectious disease control, drug demand reduction, and reproductive and maternal and child health. Programs are designed to develop local capacity and promote mechanisms for citizens to engage with their local government. U.S. Government funds also support the work of non-governmental organizations to prevent trafficking in persons and care for victims. USAID supports the Institute for New Democracies in initiatives to strengthen the protection of human rights.
Peace Corps staff arrived in Uzbekistan in August 1992, and a bilateral agreement to establish the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan was signed November 4, 1992. The first volunteers arrived in December 1992. Peace Corps Volunteers were active in English teaching, small business development, public health, and women's issues. However, Uzbekistan failed to renew visas for Peace Corps volunteers in 2005, ending the Peace Corps presence in the country. Department of State-managed exchange programs, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and the Department of Commerce's Special American Business Internship Training Program (SABIT) contribute to expansion of technical know-how and support bilateral relations. The U.S. also provides export finance/guarantees and political risk insurance for U.S. exporters and investors through the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Proceeds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Monetization Program are scheduled to finance more than 30 farmer assistance and rural development projects which were approved jointly by U.S. and Uzbek officials in 2005. Some of the selected projects are already underway.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, Uzbekistan approved of the U.S. Central Command's request for access to an air base, the Karshi-Khanabad airfield, in southern Uzbekistan, to station 1,500 of its armed forces, in exchange for security guarantees and assistance with its own internal terrorism. Uzbek President Islam Karimov condemned Saddam Hussein and supported the controversial Iraqi War, and continued allowing the U.S. to place troops on the ground as well as use the Uzbek airbase, K2, for support activities and for deployment and command and control of Special Forces into all of Afghanistan except for the Khandahar region. However, Uzbekistan demanded that the U.S. withdraw from the airbases after the Andijan massacre and the critical U.S. reaction to the incident.
In 2012, Uzbekistan opted to formally withdraw from the Russian-led CSTO alliance, leading some to debate whether such a move indicated a shift in its foreign policy to the West, possibly influenced by its increasingly vital strategic position in Central Asia and NATO's impending future withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan. However, Uzbekistan remains a part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of which both Russia and China are part of, and of which it is the only non-founding member.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
- Ambassador—Richard B. Norland
- Secretary—Patti Hagopian
- Deputy Chief of Mission—Brad Hanson
- Political/Economic Chief—Ted Burkhalter
- Public Affairs Officer—Carol Fajardo
- Management Officer—Doug Ellrich
- Consul—Rafael Perez
- Defense Attache—LTC Jeff Hartmann
- USAID—James Bonner
- Uzbekistanian Opinion of the U.S.
- U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
- "U.S. Temporarily Lifts Ban On Military Assistance To Uzbekistan."
- Uzbekistan Project, Institute for New Democracies website, accessed February 5, 2010
- Uzbekistan withdraws from Russia-lead military alliance Telegraph co.uk
- "Uzbekistan Suspends Its Membership in CSTO". The Gazette of Central Asia. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
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