On 28 May 2019, the Moscow office of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute hosted the ‘Multiple vectors of Central Asia: Uzbekistan’s case’ roundtable. The meeting was the fourth in a series devoted to analysis of the foreign policy of Central Asian states. The subject of discussion was the current condition and future scenarios of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy. The keynote speech was made by Uzbek political scientist Rustam Makhmudov.
Makhmudov began with the thesis that the presidential elections of December 2016 were a watershed moment in the foreign and domestic policy of Uzbekistan. Prior to this, there had been an increasing policy of securitisation, which had partly been caused by the activities of extremist organisations. Since the entry of the new president into office, attention has primarily been paid to economic development, which has led to an intensification and greater openness in foreign policy activities.
A strengthening of ties with the West has become the highest priority. Uzbekistan’s leadership has a clear understanding that without Western resources and institutions it will be impossible to launch and implement most of its necessary reforms. Activities of Western NGOs, international institutions, and media are increasingly visible in Uzbekistan. As part of a policy of greater openness, tourist visas have been abolished for 45 (mostly European) states. As a result of these and other measures, Uzbekistan’s positions in international ratings have considerably improved.
Relations with Asian countries, primarily South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, are intensifying.
Fostering cooperation with the Russian Federation is a constant focus as well because