Nearly two months after the European Union ruled that sanctions against Uzbekistan would remain suspended for six months, there are signs that Western governments continue to seek rapprochement with Tashkent. The trend is happening even while human rights bodies caution that lifting sanctions altogether will leave the West with no leverage to seek improvements in the country’s dismal human rights record. (via Eurasianet.org)
I think this could be the right direction, as long as it's part of a longer-term strategy. The current warming of relations between Uzbekistan and the West seems to be more tactical than strategic, the focus being on the GWoT and the war in Afghanistan. Hopefully, the suspension of sanctions indicates that the US and the EU aim to make themselves more appealing allies and competitive with the no-strings-attached China and long-time ally Russia. With a diplomatic and economic foot in the door, the US and EU will have more leverage to encourage democratic and human rights reform. But this will only work as part of comprehensive Central Asia strategy, which is something that has been sorely lacking US foreign policy for the past nearly twenty years.
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9 months ago