Uzbekistan

OSCE Secretary General visits Tashkent, calls for stronger ties with Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT, 29 July 2005 - OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut stressed the need to strengthen the relationship between the Organization and Uzbekistan in talks here with President Islam Karimov and Foreign Minister Elyer Ganiyev on Thursday.

Concluding his first visit to a participating State in the Central Asian region, the Secretary General said: "The OSCE's primary concern is to maximize the impact of its assistance on Uzbekistan's capacity to uphold its OSCE commitments and to improve the lives of its citizens". He added it was essential for the OSCE to assist Uzbekistan in its reform process, taking the country's priorities into account.

During the meetings, the Uzbek authorities expressed their expectations towards the OSCE. The Secretary General and the OSCE team indicated their willingness to increase and balance the co-operation between the Organization and Uzbekistan in all three dimensions of the OSCE concept of security. Close contacts and concrete activities will continue between the OSCE Centre in Tashkent and the Uzbek authorities in order to follow up on this exchange.

The recent events in Andijan of 12 and 13 May were also discussed during the meetings. The Uzbek side noted that the ongoing Parliamentary investigation, whose main task is to establish the causes and criminal acts at the origin of these events, would also include an assessment of the actions of both the government and the law enforcement agencies.

In response to a detailed presentation on the progress of the ongoing national inquiries and of the activities of the diplomatic monitoring group on the Andijan events, the Secretary General raised with the Uzbek authorities the call by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office - echoed by numerous participating States - for a fact-finding mission by a group of international experts. The Uzbek leadership pledged to share all the findings of the national investigations, once these have been concluded.

Secretary General de Brichambaut welcomed the statement by President Karimov that trials resulting from the investigations' conclusions would be open to interested parties and that the OSCE Centre in Tashkent would have the opportunity of observing such trials.

The two sides agreed on the requirement to press ahead with discussions on reforming the 55-nation security Organization to ensure it remains relevant to the needs of all participating States. Both parties agreed on the need to make the Organization more effective in addressing current threats and more responsive to the needs of participating States.

Both sides also agreed that regional integration was crucial for stability and prosperity in Central Asia. The Uzbek side confirmed its readiness to host a conference on economic integration in Central Asia, to be organized by the OSCE later this year.

Other issues discussed included the prospects for increased OSCE assistance in counter-terrorism. Economic and ecological co-operation were also high on the agenda. Senior experts from the OSCE Secretariat on both economic affairs and counter-terrorism held separate working meetings with their Uzbek counterparts. A briefing session was organized for members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Tashkent. A meeting was also held with representatives of Uzbek civil society.

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Keith Jinks
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