Uzbek President Islam Karimov has acknowledged that there are differences in the levels of democratic development of the Central Asian states. He said this at a news conference in [the southern Kazakh capital] Almaty today on the results of the summit of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) heads of state.
He said that he did not think that "the gap is a wide one", however added that "the variety of state and social systems and political reforms is amazing".
Karimov thinks that "there is no, and can not be, single model or approach to resolving the problems" with the democratic systems of all countries. The Uzbek leader believes that "political reforms can not be considered on their own", "they are closely interlaced" with the economic and demographic problems, people's mentality and living conditions.
Karimov thinks that "each country chooses its own path of development", but the countries in the region "cannot disagree on basic democratic values".
Speaking about CACO prospects, the Uzbek president pointed out that the organization would enable its members to go beyond economic affairs and resolve many political issues. In this regard he thinks that it is "one of the most important tasks" to draw on the experience of one or another country "to avoid mistakes".
Karimov said that Tashkent was ready to draw on the experience of its neighbours, including Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in building a democratic, "market-oriented" state. He said that Uzbekistan was "carefully studying" Kazakhstan's experience of setting up a bilateral parliament, particularly the mechanism of forming its parliament's Senate (upper chamber). Along with this, he noted that Uzbekistan intended to set up its upper chamber of its parliament "based on the experience of Russia and Kazakhstan as well as other developed democracies".
At this point Karimov underlined the importance of "an open dialogue between the countries so that they could pool their experience". In this connection he suggested that "open political discussions" on issues related to the democratization of societies and state systems should be held more often in the countries of the region, and not abroad.
In addition, Karimov suggested creating "a single information field" in Central Asia to learn "about the processes taking places in neighboring countries."
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who also attended the press conference, supported Islam Karimov's sentiment and said that Astana was ready to take part in this project.
Karimov called on his colleagues and journalists to stop talking about Central Asia being "an extreme region." The talk about instability in Central Asia and the war that the Taliban would allegedly start in Uzbekistan started appearing in the mass media soon after the anti-terrorist operation started in Afghanistan and created a negative opinion about the region from the point of view of capital investment, he said.
"This talk is being whipped up to prevent investment from coming here," the Uzbek president said.