Uzbeks Unlikely to Back Moscow's Regional Security Plans

When Moscow plays host to a meeting of several post-Soviet political, defence and economic pacts on October 12, joint efforts to promote regional security are likely to be high on the agenda. Analysts say Uzbekistan is unlikely to be enthusiastic about any scheme locking it into closer alliances with Russia. 

The event is the first of its kind in that it brings together top officials from the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS, its offshoots the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, CSTO, and Eurasian Economic Community, EurAsEC, plus the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO, a grouping in which Russia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are joined by China.

A press release from the CSTO said participants would discuss “joint approaches to providing security and stability in the region”.

Uzbekistan is a member of the CIS and the SCO, but not EurAsEC, from which it withdrew in 2008. It suspended its membership of the CSTO in 1999 but resumed it in 2006.

Tashkent often ignores meetings of the regional groupings of which it is still part, and fails to ratify multilateral agreements or does so only with provisos.

"Both the CIS and CSTO have completely failed, so what’s the point in suggesting they do something together?” asked Farhod Tolipov, a political and regional security analyst in Tashkent. "More broadly, CIS countries’ approaches to security differ greatly from one another.”

Tolibov expressed doubt that the Uzbek delegation would take much of a role in the Moscow talks, given Tashkent’s preference for dealing with other countries on an individual basis rather than through blocs it regards as useless.

The meeting is intended to kick off two months of events covering areas of CIS cooperation as varied as defence and the arts.

Rovshan Ibrahimov, head of international relations at Azerbaijan’s Qafqaz University, said the most outstanding feature of the event was the role played by Russia.

"It seems that the meeting… will focus solely on strengthening Moscow’s influence, and nothing more serious," he said.

This article was produced as part of IWPR’s News Briefing Central Asia output, funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.