The President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov held a press conference where he openly criticized some European countries as well as Pakistan, but also said that Russia and Uzbekistan established good relations in the end of August.
The President held the press conference at 15th session of the Uzbek Parliament.
In the beginning of the session, the President told the reporters that Uzbekistan we did not ask anyone for arms or something else, but only wanted sincerity. Uzbekistan should not take offense at Europe which did not rush to offer its assistance. Europe is preoccupied with its own problems. For the time being, Uzbekistan needs instructions, iit needs moral support.
President Karimov clearly told that the some people who were involved in terrorist activitities in Uzbekistan were being in Pakistan, South Vaziristan. Commenting on Central Asian Cooperation Organization, president Karimov said that regrettably some countries make many promises and say that they are ready to sign documents, but when time comes to implement their plans, all obligations remain on the paper.
Here is the short text of the Press Conference of president Karimov.
Question: It has been 13 years since Russia and Uzbekistan established relations. Quite recently Vladimir Putin and you signed an Agreement on strategic partnership. What is the significance of Russia to Uzbekistan today in the context of this Agreement?
I.Karimov: It is difficult to give a brief answer to this comprehensive question. For us Russia is a country which over many hundred years has had very close relations with Uzbekistan and has pursued strategic objectives and tasks in the territory of Turkestan and Central Asia. The political system of these states changed in the course of time. Following the October Revolution, the Soviet rule, i.e. the USSR replaced tzarist Russia. However, the pro-Moscow policy of the USSR government did not much differ from the policy of tzarist Russia. Everyone who lives in this territory has historical memory. Even in the time of tzarist Russia everyone who was sent to Tashkent had undergone 3 or 6 month of training courses to learn the language of the indigenous nation and its traditions, get idea of Islam and etc. In the Soviet time the Communist rule and ideology virtually eliminated national republics in the territory of the USSR, they existed pro forma. The Constitution of the USSR is the last Constitution. Article 70 of the USSR Constitution emphasized that each republic was sovereign. However, the real situation was far from the declarations made. In this context irrespective of the power in Moscow and the change of regime , the attitude to the region did not change. The strategic objectives and tasks of the parent state remained unchanged. Uzbekistan was regarded (I would like to use high flown wording) as a source of cheap raw materials including cotton and other natural resources. We did not even know at what prices our natural resources were sold. 80% of consumer goods required for the local population was imported from there. In this context I want to emphasize the following-strategic interests have always existed and will ever exist. Therefore, answering to your question, I would like to say that we are making attempts to develop ourselves in a new environment and the old approaches and criteria are absolutely unacceptable. Today Uzbekistan has to be seen as an equal partner and while developing relations with other countries. Uzbekistan will pursue its own interests and interests of the Uzbek nation. We have no other objectives. From this point of view, we will tolerate that Uzbekistan remains a source of cheap raw materials. Incidentally, speaking to you today I would like to say the following which you may not accept. Giving assessment to the policy of other states with respect to Uzbekistan, I mean developed states, I must say that their approaches are alike. None of them wants high technology enterprises to develop here and offer competition to European or US products. This is a fact I state as a person who has been monitoring these processes for the last 15 years. Approaches are virtually similar. No one is happy about the Asaka car plant. The essence of addresses by the Ambassadors of developed countries is the same: we give help, we want democracy to develop. Secondly, market relations, free relations, pluralism and other cliches. But what is behind these phrases? Are they happy about the construction of “Shurtangaz” that produces high technology goods? Are they happy about the Bukhara plant that produces highly active benzine? Are they happy about the highly liquid Asaka plant? Are they happy that our aviation plant unlike Russian aviation plants continues to live and develop and exports its products to China, India and many other countries. It is relevant to note that aircraft production like car production cannot develop in the absence of high technology. Therefore, today we see Russia as a state which has been present in our region for a long time. We have shared humanitarian and spiritual values. Uzbek people know the Russian culture and language, a fact which is neglected in Moscow. So why the Russians who live in Uzbekistan in the third or fourth generation cannot not even say “Assalom aleikum”? Why I am saying this is that I want Uzbekistan’s interests to be considered. The sooner the parent state ambitions still existing in the Moscow corridors vanish, the stronger our relations will be. I have recently read in the Trud newspaper that they very closely watch the dynamics of Uzbekistan-Russia relations especially after the signing of the document on strategic partnership. I attach special importance to this document as it deals with strategic partnership and strategic interests that protect both Uzbekistan and Russia as Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia. Central Asia is a zone of certain risk, therefore Russia is interested in having an ally in this region. Speaking of bilateral relations, I mean not only economic ties but military and technical ties as well. We plan to conduct very serious exercise next year jointly with the Russian Defense Ministry. I mean our new training ground “Farish” that meets very high modern requirements. Joint exercise with respective Russian services, troops and special services will be conducted at this training ground. This is yet another testimony to the trust that is emerging between the military of Russian and Uzbekistan. I highly appreciate and value the relations between President Putin and me. The most important is that the Russian business is already present in Uzbekistan, it is gaining speed and prestige. I am especially happy that Uzbekistan has not forgotten the smell of the Russian capital and presence. And the process of mutual integration is developing very fast as we know each other very well and since long ago.
Question: You said that Central Asia is a zone of risk. The US Department of State has stated that new acts of terrorism are possible in Uzbekistan in early September. We are very keen to know your reaction to the statement by the US authorities. Secondly, what steps can Uzbekistan take to prevent such attempts?
I.Karimov: Regrettably, I am not aware of this statement and its sources. Otherwise I could voice my considerations. On the whole there is nothing new in this statement. You may recall that on Saturday, 31 July I terminated my 5-day leave. On Friday at around 16.00 by the Crimea time I was informed on what had happened here. Next day I returned home and spoke on TV. I said that no one could assure that such acts would not happen again. I want to emphasize that what is going on in Uzbekistan and took place on 30 July are part of the developments of late March-early April 2004. Now when the trial of the first group of criminals completed and you are aware of the results of the trial, it is evident that my suppositions regarding the sources of the these acts were correct. The same people are behind these acts and processes.
Question (on the Uzbek side): It was expected that the establishment of the Central Asia Cooperation Organization will contribute to the removal of all barriers and visa free movement of people. But this has not happen. What do you think about it?
I.Karimov: Your question is very serious and timely. Each and every man no matter whether he lives in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrghyzstan or Uzbekistan can hear grandiloquent words and phrases said during meetings of the leaders. In the course of the time one gets sick of such words and phrases. You speak about this through Liberty Radio. Regrettably we make many promises and are ready to sign documents. But in fact when time comes for implementation of our plans, all obligations remain on the paper. You asked about the opening of borders. I think that in the current situation when terrorism is threatening Central Asia, what advice can we give to people? If such acts continue to recur and their perpetrators find sanctuary in a neighbouring country? A neighbouring country is not able to protect its borders or it simply does not want to do so. I am quite serious. Following the acts of terrorism of late March-early April and 30 July certain neighbouring countries stated that they had closed their borders. Kyrghyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan did so. They kept saying they were protecting their nationals. Who can assure that such blasts will never occur in their countries? What is their perception of the problem? I do not want to undermine our relations, this is not my objective. Let some uninformed people remain uninformed. It is an easy job to hurt an ordinary person. We should live in accord. This is my point. Therefore I neglect minor things and advise my people to do so. This refers to your radio. One spoke of tolerance. He meant that we should leave “Hizb-Ut-Tahrir” and like organizations alone otherwise they can cause trouble to us. Or they say that their state is a transit one. They say in Kyrghyzstan that “Hizb-Ut-Tahrir” wants to create a caliphate in the Ferghana valley and they see Kyrghyzstan as a transit country. They are worried about this. Why does “Ozodlik” Radio not explain to them that the Ferghana Valley includes three Kyrghyz regions? If they want to create a caliphate in the Ferghana Valley, they mean not only Namangan, Andijan and Ferghana regions in Uzbekistan. They mean the entire Ferghana Valley. Is “Hizb-Ut-Tahrir” not posing a threat to Kyrghyzstan? The Ferghana valley is a geographic notion. It includes Leninabad (Khojent) region in Tajikistan. They seek to create a caliphate not only in Uzbekistan but also in the entire Ferghana Valley. Our people will suffer unless such games are given up. What is Uzbekistan to do if a resident of Shinjan comes to Tashkent and prepares blasts that cause the death of innocent people? What is Uzbekistan to do if he subsequently flees to a neighbouring country? What do you say? You know well why this issue fails to be resolved. Some have a different view of this issue. Some countries are just gambling: you do not bother me and I will not bother you.
I.Karimov: Your words male some sense. We could ask them for help. For instance, Japan. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan arrived today on a official visit in Tashkent. I will meet Ms. Kavaguchi at 17.00. In the context of finance, economy and technology Japan is a mighty country. Moreover, Japan is a scrupulous and conscientious country. While preparing myself for a meeting with Ms. Kavaguchi, I noted one fact-all-round help on the part of Japan to Uzbekistan. It is estimated at USD 1 billion 800 million. Humanitarian aid is USD 147 million. Look at Afghanistan. Two years back Japan had promised to render assistance to this country at the rate of half billion. dollars. Till date it has allocated 450 million dollars. Compare it with the assistance on the part from France. France is one of the important members of the UN Security Council. Japan is not a member of the UN SC. Which of these countries deserves membership in this structure? The country giving actual help or the one declaring help? In this context some will not like my words. However, I am sincere. I do no mean Uzbekistan. I mean Afghanistan. Each state should help the one in need. No country will give help just like that. But we should be sincere and sympathetic at least. Pay attention to the telegrams we received following the acts of terrorism in Tashkent. Some expressed condolence, others did not. We did not ask anyone for arms and anything else. We only sought sincerity. We should not take offense at Europe that did not rush to help. It is busy with its own problems. We do not need instructions, we need moral support at least.
Question (about bicameral parliament):
I. Karimov: The parliament will comprise of two chambers-Legislative Chamber and Senate. It is going to be a bicameral parliament. Both Chambers will have their own objectives and tasks. The Lower Chamber of professionals will act on a permanent basis. The Upper Chamber will assemble for sessions. Parliamentarians must think over the future work as it will differ very much from the present activity. Professional parliamentarians will not be engaged beyond the parliament. They will only deal with law-making. Are there eligible candidates for the election to the Lower Chamber? Whom you, journalists can nominate? This is a serious matter. Parliamentarians will not live free and easy life. They will have to work hard. What will happen to Uzbekistan if the same parliamentarians stay in the parliament? The time changes, so do people. Parliamentarians must be serious about their work. That’s all.
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