NEWS AND EVENTS
July 12, 2005
Uzbekistan on course toward market reforms
President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan believes in the evolutionary development of civilization, the introduction of the European model of development in Uzbekistan, and opposes the establishment of Islamic Khalifah and the spread of religious fanaticism.
I was in Tashkent May 10-24 to accompany President Roh Moo-hyun during his state visit to Uzbekistan and proceed with my official duties. Therefore, I am familiar with the situation in Uzbekistan and want to express my view on the Andijan events of May 13, 2005.
I witnessed as President Karimov and Uzbekistan law enforcement authorities arrested extremists whom some mass media described as mutineers.
Karimov left for Andijan at 7:30 a.m. to personally run the operation and meet with community activists. Thanks to his personal efforts, the extremists were taken care of within a day.
On May 14, Karimov held a press conference on the Andijan events for foreign journalists. Prosecutor-General R. Kadyrov, who has worked on the criminal case and investigation since the beginning, gave a detailed interview on these events on May 17.
I have no doubt that the events in Andijan had only one aim _ to overturn a legitimate power in order to create an Islamic state _ as criminals demanded the release of the leaders of Islamic extremists and Hizb-ut-Tahrir, who committed a number of terror acts in Uzbekistan in previous years.
Regarding the threat of the fanatical organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir, I would like to quote the article ?Barrier Against Islamic Evil? by Israeli expert Rjuvena Deniela in the ?Haaretz? daily: ?Hizb-ut-Tahrir has chosen Uzbekistan as a testing ground to achieve its goals. If it manages to take control of this country, the door to grab all of Central Asia will be opened.?
?Only after 11 September 2001, did the United States learn the true nature of the Taliban and has since overthrown its regime in Afghanistan. But the Taliban still actively operates in Afghanistan and stretches its tentacles to neighboring countries, including Uzbekistan. A feeling of deja vu grows stronger when we see that the leaders of Hizb-ut-Tahrir find shelter and political asylum in London and Paris.?
?As a man who is against terrorism and Islamic extremism, I would like to commend the authorities in London for taking finally measures to close down the centre of this extremist organization, which propagates religious fundamentalism and fanaticism.?
Since Britain is part of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I believe it should deal with these ideologists of religious extremism as soon as possible to block Hizb-ut-Tahrir?s financing and subversive activities in Uzbekistan.
It is time to understand that Uzbekistan is probably the last barrier stemming the spread of terrorism and religious fundamentalism. I suppose there is truth in words of Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov, who recently at the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council and during the visit of Islam Karimov to Russia, declared ?purposeful and systematic preparation of terrorists for export? is continuing in Afghanistan. I doubt whether such a high-ranking official well-versed in security issues begins to scatter words and dissemble while declaring that the Andijan events were inspired from the territory of Afghanistan.
The pragmatic and far-sighted politician Karimov did not casually draw our attention to the situation in Central Asia, and to Afghanistan in particular. As he has noted at the SCO summit in Astana on 6 July 2005, ?Only individual developments of a strategic and far-reaching nature, aimed at turning ultimately political and economic strength and domination in the region to someone?s own advantage, came to the surface in the events that took place in the region.?
?When there is a process of coalescence of these forces with various extremist and separative structures, as well as exploitation of radical religious organizations which in different situation are referred as terrorist, all these facts cannot but cause serious alarm.?
?Illegal drug trading in Afghanistan has grown immeasurably, and the international coalition?s activity has not had been able to curtail it.? In my view we should consider these warnings seriously.
I would also like to dwell on question about necessity of independent international investigations into the events in Andijan, on which some western countries and organizations insist.
This question itself, as they say they do not believe that Uzbekistan objectively can investigate the events, is offensive. It gives the impression that initiators of this proposal have forgotten that they deal with a sovereign and independent state, and a member of the United Nations.
I think that we must support President Karimov, who has rejected these demands as interference into the internal affairs of Uzbekistan.
?The Uzbek people will never depend on anyone,? Islam Karimov said. These words contain deep sense and while coming from the heart they express the will and aspirations of all the people of Uzbekistan.
I make no doubt that independent parliamentary commission, as well as the working group on monitoring investigations and measures of the government of Uzbekistan to stabilize situation in Andijan and the Andijan region from among representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Uzbekistan, can examine the events objectively.
I have been working in Uzbekistan for 15 years and since 1991 I lead the Uzbekistan-Korea Friendship Association. From my personal experience I can see how Islam Karimov realizes reforms and democratization in the country.
I am deeply impressed with the substantive meetings the presidents of Uzbekistan and Korea had with businessmen during which Karimov has urged us, Korean businessmen, to do business in Uzbekistan where all conditions for successful business were created, and the law on foreign investments has no analogy.
A business forum in Tashkent removed all our doubts since Islam Karimov is a guarantor of foreign investments and stability in Uzbekistan. For the short period, Uzbekistan has achieved great successes in democratization and carrying out economic reforms.
Favorable conditions to improving business environment, protecting rights and interests of entrepreneurs, strengthening ties with foreign partners, are created in this country.
During the last couple of months, a number of important Presidential Decrees were adopted in Uzbekistan, including one on the liberalization of financial responsibility of entrepreneurial entities for economic delinquencies; one on additional measures to stimulate the development of micro firms and small enterprises; one on measures to improve the system of legal protection of entrepreneurial entities; and one on the improvement of the system of reporting by entrepreneurs, and strengthening of responsibility for its illegal request.
The IMF at the meeting of its board of directors in May 2005, while evaluating economic reforms in Uzbekistan has emphasized that the high rates of GDP growth of 7.7% were achieved in Uzbekistan in 2004, the foreign trade balance has improved and progress in the tax and budget sphere has been secured.
These figures show not spasmodic, but the evolutionary character and the enormous scale of transformations made in Uzbekistan under Karimov.
Certainly, on the background of these positive transformations in Uzbekistan attempts of extremists to destabilize situation in the country, to shatter the life of citizens should generate indignations.
Andijan is a toiler city where many industrial enterprises are located, hospitable and hardworking people are lived and worked. However, achievements made for over the years of independence in the field of economy, small business and private entrepreneurship, may develop only in stable and safe environments.
Uzbekistan has established and maintains strategic partnership with leading countries ? the US, Russia, Japan, India. Nowadays, it has nearly agreed upon establishing a strategic cooperation with the Republic of Korea.
I accompanied the president of Korea to many countries, but the visit to Tashkent was especially well-organized. The people of Uzbekistan received President Roh with the great honor and warm hospitality.
I believe that his visit to Uzbekistan and understandings achieved will give a powerful impetus to further successful development of relations between two countries.
I am convinced that the people of Uzbekistan and Korea will cooperate and interact actively irrespective of the atrocities committed by terrorists and religious extremists as took place in Andijan since the Korean diaspora living in Uzbekistan during 70 years closely bridges our peoples.
During the most difficult years, the people of Uzbekistan shared even their last crust of bread with Koreans. Today as Uzbekistan is in transition, the Republic of Korea, the 10th largest economy, should render it overall assistance.
In this cause, we, Korean businessmen, should take an active part and thus prove that we are reliable cooperative partners.
By Kim Yun-seek Kim Yun-seek served as a member of the 16th National Assembly.