By Tim Receveur, Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - Uzbekistan owes its citizens and the international community an independent, transparent and credible investigation into the May 13 violence by Uzbek security forces against civilians in and around the city of Andijan, a State Department official told participants during a June 8 Internet chat.
"There are events that we believe the U.S. government -- and the international community -- must speak out about. Andijan is one of those events," said Kent Logsdon, deputy director of the Office of Caucasus and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. State Department.
Logsdon said the United States has declined an invitation from the government of Uzbekistan to monitor its internal investigation into the events in Andijan. He said the United States has doubts about the independence of the Uzbek parliament's investigation without "outside experts or guarantees of access to places and witnesses."
"However, we have told the Uzbek government that we stand ready to participate in an independent, credible and transparent investigation in cooperation with international partners," said Logsdon during the Internet chat, which was sponsored by the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs.
Asked whether there is any consideration given to suspending investment in Uzbekistan, Logsdon said the United States is looking hard at its "assistance programs and cooperation in all areas of the bilateral relationship" but is not encouraging U.S. companies to stop investing in Uzbekistan.
"Congress requires the Secretary of State to certify Uzbekistan every year for making sufficient progress on political and economic reform before we can provide any assistance to the Uzbek Government. The Secretary did not certify Uzbekistan last year. The Secretary has not yet made that determination this year," said Logsdon.
Following the 2004 decision not to certify Uzbekistan, the United States cut assistance to the Uzbek central government but was still able to provide support for nongovernmental programs that benefited the people of Uzbekistan.
On the decision by the Peace Corps to withdraw from Uzbekistan after that government failed to renew the visas of the 52 volunteers and country director, Logsdon said the United States was "disappointed that the government of Uzbekistan took this step. Because the Peace Corps could not ensure that their volunteers were properly documented, we were forced to suspend this program."
Asked about the status of the Karshi-Kanabad Air Basein southern Uzbekistan, he said the base plays an important role in supporting U.S. operations in Afghanistan. U.S. and Uzbek officials have met several times, most recently in early May, to discuss the agreement governing access to this facility, Logsdon said.
On the status of the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, he said that because of security concerns, family members and nonessential employees have the opportunity to depart the embassy. Logsdon advised those seeking visas and other consular services to check the embassy's Web site to see what services are being offered on any given day.
Logsdon also commented on Kazakhstan's upcoming presidential elections in December and the country's aspirations to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2009.
He said the U.S. government is committed to supporting elections that are up to international standards around the world and it is working in Kazakhstan with the government and civil society to enhance the prospects for good elections.
On the OSCE, Logsdon stated that any country wanting to lead the OSCE must "embody the principles and live up to all the commitments freely taken on by OSCE members."
Logsdon joined the Foreign Service in June 1987 and has been posted to Bangkok, Thailand; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Islamabad, Pakistan; and Stuttgart, Germany. Most recently he served as the special assistant to the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. Logsdon also has worked in the State Department's Office of European Political-Military Affairs and the Operations Center.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)