Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan: Signs of Real Rapprochement

By Dmitry Slavin

Today the foreground of international relations includes the issues of arrangement and holding of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Tashkent this June. The Heads of SCO member-states are constantly substantially exchanging views on the situation within Central Asian region. A significant defining factor is the relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which gain the tendency to rapprochement.

The held visit on March 16th-17th of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to Tashkent at the invitation of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has become an event of gradual character. And not only for the interrelations of these two states, considering their special importance within the issues of regional integration of Central Asia states and within the assurance of international security.

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for each other have always been not only natural strategic partners in the region, but for the most part – rivals within a struggle for regional leadership. In various periods of two last decades of history the climate of interrelations between these independent states changed. However, relations between their Heads have always been confidential and respectful.

The visit of N. Nazarbayev in March to Tashkent was called for I. Karimov not only to suggest, but also to find joint compromises of the accumulated problems of different spheres within the region. The kind of approach was understood by the President of Uzbekistan. Evidently, there was no other choice. At the background of numerous modern challenges and threats of national and international security this visit of N. Nazarbayev became an evident sign to a real rapprochement of the interests of the two states.

The rapprochement tendencies of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are proven in particular by the fact that I. Karimov supported the initiative of N. Nazarbayev on the arrangement of the Summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe during the period of Kazakhstan Chairmanship in OSCE. In this respect N. Nazarbayev underlined: “Our peoples have common routes, we are connected with the history of brotherhood, good neighborhood. We thank the authorities of Uzbekistan for the support of our presidency in OSCE and the arrangement of the OSCE Summit in Astana”. And the President of Uzbekistan noted that his country welcomes active foreign policy of Kazakhstan and its OSCE Chairmanship.

The Parties also confirmed the mutual involvement in sooner development of mutually acceptable mechanism of joint use of water-energy resources of Central Asian region and intensification of the activity of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. Thus, Nursultan Nazarbayev noted the necessity of international expertise of Rogun HPP in Tajikistan, and also of Kambartinsk units in Kirgizstan for ecologic and technogenic security, and for the issues of the water-flow regulation.

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It’s known that these issues were discussed by the leader of Kazakhstan with the President of Tajikistan who gave his principle consent. Despite the change of power in April, Kazakhstan preserves its principle readiness for the kind of expertise. As well as the readiness of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan after the received results to participate within the construction of new units.

In current conditions the necessity to make agreements is simply evident. Everything secondary, “pushed” should be put off, forgotten and left in past.

Special concern is drawn to the situation in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan as well as Kazakhstan lay a prior focus on this issue. Uzbekistan experienced in its complicated practice the threats of neighborhood with unstable state leading unpredictable internal and foreign policy.

In 1999 and 2000 governmental troops of Uzbekistan together with neighboring Kirgizstan struggled against troops of “Taliban” that have lost the feelings of geopolitical reality. Current instability in Kirgizstan, where the new power is only on its way to legitimization, incites anxiety.

And it’s not excluded that in the near future there will be aggravation of the crisis over Iran, which will affect stability of the whole Central Asia. Within the frameworks of international peacekeeping initiatives there should be also joint constructive efforts of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

We should remind, that during the meeting of Presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan they signed a Joint Declaration of Presidents specifying “principle approaches of the Parties on current issues of Kazakh-Uzbekistani cooperation” and a number of intergovernmental documents.

Following the results of talks the Heads of the both states held a joint press-conference. Uzbekistani President I. Karimov noted that current official visit of the delegation of the Republic of Kazakhstan is observed by Uzbekistan as a significant event within the development of Kazakh-Uzbekistani mutually beneficial cooperation, as a definite confirmation of mutual involvement in further strengthening of a comprehensive relations between these two states.

In the result of the meeting in Tashkent of Nursultan Nazarbayev and Islam Karimov there was a feeling (as experts and politicians note) that the node of acute problems, accumulated in Central Asia, gradually starts to vanish. For this they have chosen a correct way of mutual agreements, search of mutually acceptable compromise decisions. During the oncoming Summit of SCO, naturally, they will evaluate the situation within this region, but they also should enumerate the instruments of influencing it.