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Uzbekistan - GOVERNMENT
The movement toward economic reform in Uzbekistan has not been matched by movement toward democratic reform. The government of Uzbekistan has instead tightened its grip since independence, cracking down increasingly on opposition groups, curbing basic human rights, and making little attempt to develop democratic political norms and practices. Although the names have changed, the institutions of government remain similar to those that existed before the breakup of the Soviet Union. The government has justified its restraint of personal liberty and freedom of speech by emphasizing the need for stability and a gradual approach to change during the transitional period, citing the conflict and chaos in the other former republics (most convincingly, neighboring Tajikistan). This approach has found credence among a large share of Uzbekistan's population, although such a position may not be sustainable in the long run.
Despite the trappings of institutional change, the first years of independence saw more resistance than acceptance of the institutional changes required for democratic reform to take hold. Whatever initial movement toward democracy existed in Uzbekistan in the early days of independence seems to have been overcome by the inertia of the remaining Soviet-style strong centralized leadership.
In the Soviet era, Uzbekistan organized its government and its local communist party in conformity with the structure prescribed for all the republics. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) occupied the central position in ruling the country. The party provided both the guidance and the personnel for the government structure. The system was strictly bureaucratic: every level of government and every governmental body found its mirror image in the party. The tool used by the CPSU to control the bureaucracy was the system of nomenklatura , a list of sensitive jobs in the government and other important organizations that could be filled only with party approval. The nomenklatura defined the Soviet elite, and the people on the list invariably were members of the CPSU.
Following the failure of the coup against the Gorbachev government in Moscow in August 1991, Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet declared the independence of the republic, henceforth to be known as the Republic of Uzbekistan. At the same time, the Communist Party of Uzbekistan voted to cut its ties with the CPSU; three months later, it changed its name to the People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (PDPU), but the party leadership, under President Islam Karimov, remained in place. Independence brought a series of institutional changes, but the substance of governance in Uzbekistan changed much less dramatically.
On December 21, 1991, together with the leaders of ten other Soviet republics, Karimov agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union and form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary), of which Uzbekistan became a charter member according to the Alma-Ata Declaration. Shortly thereafter, Karimov was elected president of independent Uzbekistan in the new country's first contested election. Karimov drew 86 percent of the vote against opposition candidate Mohammed Salikh, whose showing experts praised in view of charges that the election had been rigged. The major opposition party, Birlik, had been refused registration as an official party in time for the election.
In 1992 the PDPU retained the dominant position in the executive and legislative branches of government that the Communist Party of Uzbekistan had enjoyed. All true opposition groups were repressed and physically discouraged. Birlik, the original opposition party formed by intellectuals in 1989, was banned for allegedly subversive activities, establishing the Karimov regime's dominant rationalization for increased authoritarianism: Islamic fundamentalism threatened to overthrow the secular state and establish an Islamic regime similar to that in Iran. The constitution ratified in December 1992 reaffirmed that Uzbekistan is a secular state. Although the constitution prescribed a new form of legislature, the PDPU-dominated Supreme Soviet remained in office for nearly two years until the first parliamentary election, which took place in December 1994 and January 1995.
In 1993 Karimov's concern about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism spurred Uzbekistan's participation in the multinational CIS peacekeeping force sent to quell the civil war in nearby Tajikistan--a force that remained in place three years later because of continuing hostilities. Meanwhile, in 1993 and 1994 continued repression by the Karimov regime brought strong criticism from international human rights organizations. In March 1995, Karimov took another step in the same direction by securing a 99 percent majority in a referendum on extending his term as president from the prescribed next election in 1997 to 2000. In early 1995, Karimov announced a new policy of toleration for opposition parties and coalitions, apparently in response to the need to improve Uzbekistan's international commercial position. A few new parties were registered in 1995, although the degree of their opposition to the government was doubtful, and some imprisonments of opposition political figures continued.
The parliamentary election, the first held under the new constitution's guarantee of universal suffrage to all citizens eighteen years of age or older, excluded all parties except the PDPU and the progovernment Progress of the Fatherland Party, despite earlier promises that all parties would be free to participate. The new, 250-seat parliament, called the Oly Majlis or Supreme Soviet, included only sixty-nine candidates running for the PDPU, but an estimated 120 more deputies were PDPU members technically nominated to represent local councils rather than the PDPU. The result was that Karimov's solid majority continued after the new parliament went into office.
From the beginning of his presidency, Karimov remained committed in words to instituting democratic reforms. A new constitution was adopted by the legislature in December 1992. Officially it creates a separation of powers among a strong presidency, the Oly Majlis, and a judiciary. In practice, however, these changes have been largely cosmetic. Uzbekistan remains among the most authoritarian states in Central Asia. Although the language of the new constitution includes many democratic features, it can be superseded by executive decrees and legislation, and often constitutional law simply is ignored.
The president, who is directly elected to a five-year term that can be repeated once, is the head of state and is granted supreme executive power by the constitution. As commander in chief of the armed forces, the president also may declare a state of emergency or of war. The president is empowered to appoint the prime minister and full cabinet of ministers and the judges of the three national courts, subject to the approval of the Oly Majlis, and to appoint all members of lower courts. The president also has the power to dissolve the parliament, in effect negating the Oly Majlis's veto power over presidential nominations in a power struggle situation.
Deputies to the unicameral Oly Majlis, the highest legislative body, are elected to five-year terms. The body may be dismissed by the president with the concurrence of the Constitutional Court; because that court is subject to presidential appointment, the dismissal clause weights the balance of power heavily toward the executive branch. The Oly Majlis enacts legislation, which may be initiated by the president, within the parliament, by the high courts, by the procurator general (highest law enforcement official in the country), or by the government of the Autonomous Province of Karakalpakstan. Besides legislation, international treaties, presidential decrees, and states of emergency also must be ratified by the Oly Majlis.
The national judiciary includes the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, and the High Economic Court. Lower court systems exist at the regional, district, and town levels. Judges at all levels are appointed by the president and approved by the Oly Majlis. Nominally independent of the other branches of government, the courts remain under complete control of the executive branch. As in the system of the Soviet era, the procurator general and his regional and local equivalents are both the state's chief prosecuting officials and the chief investigators of criminal cases, a configuration that limits the pretrial rights of defendants.
The country is divided into twelve provinces (wiloyatlar ; sing., wiloyat ), one autonomous republic (the Karakalpakstan Republic), 156 regions, and 123 cities. In Uzbekistan's system of strong central government, local government has little independence. The chief executive of each province and of Tashkent is the hakim , who is appointed by the president. Although these appointments must be confirmed by local legislative bodies that are elected by popular vote, the power of the president is dominant. The Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan also officially elects its own legislature; the chairman of the legislature serves as the republic's head of state and as a deputy chairman of the national parliament. But in the autonomous republic, too, government officials are generally powerless against Tashkent. Indeed, Karakalpak officials often are not included even in meetings of heads of state to discuss the fate of the Aral Sea, which is located within Karakalpakstan.
Through the early 1990s, the government's stated goal of creating a multiparty democracy in Uzbekistan went unrealized. When independence was gained, the Communist Party of Uzbekistan was officially banned, but its successor, the PDPU, assumed the personnel, structure, and political domination of its predecessor. Since forcing out a small number of deputies from opposition parties, PDP members have complete control of the Supreme Soviet, and most members of other government bodies also are PDP members. The only other legal party in Uzbekistan, the Progress of the Fatherland Party, was created by a key adviser to President Karimov, ostensibly to give the country a semblance of a multiparty system; but it differs little in substance from the PDP.
Of the several legitimate opposition parties that emerged in Uzbekistan before the collapse of the Soviet Union, none has been able to meet the official registration requirements that the government created to maintain control and exclude them from the public arena. The first opposition party, Birlik, was created in 1989, primarily by intellectuals and writers under the leadership of the writer Abdurakhim Pulatov (see The 1980s, this ch.). The movement attempted to draw attention to problems ranging from environmental and social concerns to economic challenges, and to participate in their solution. The main weakness of Birlik was that it never was able to present a united front to the government. Soon after the party's establishment, a group of Birlik leaders left to set up a political party, Erk (Freedom), under the leadership of Mohammed Salikh. The Uzbek government was able to exploit the disunity of the opposition and eventually to undermine their position. Following the establishment of independent Uzbekistan, the Karimov regime was able to suppress both Birlik and Erk. Both parties were banned officially; Erk was reinstated in 1994.
Other parties include the Movement for Democratic Reforms, the Islamic Rebirth Party (banned by the government in 1992), the Humaneness and Charity group, and the Uzbekistan Movement. A former prime minister (1990-91) and vice president (1991) of Uzbekistan, Shukrullo Mirsaidov, created a new party, Adolat (Justice) in December 1994. Like Birlik and Erk, the new party calls for liberal economic reforms, political pluralism, and a secular society, but experts describe its opposition to the government as quite moderate. Nevertheless, Adolat has not been able to operate freely.
In 1995 opposition parties continued to be divided among themselves, further diluting their potential effectiveness, and many of the leaders have been either imprisoned or exiled. In mid-1995, Mohammed Salikh was in Germany; Abdurakhim Pulatov was in exile in Turkey; and his brother Abdumannob Pulatov, also active in the opposition and a victim of brutal government oppression, took refuge in the United States.
Despite the fact that the constitution explicitly bans censorship, press censorship is routine. In 1992 twelve daily newspapers, with a total circulation of 452,000, were published. In 1993 the government required all periodicals to register, and the applications of all independent titles were denied. In early 1996, no independent press had emerged, and all forms of information dissemination were monitored closely. The largest daily newspapers were Khalk Suzi (People's World), the organ of the Oly Majlis; Narodnoye Slovo , a Russian-language government daily; Pravda Vostoka , an organ of the Oly Majlis and the cabinet, in Russian; and Uzbekiston Adabiyoti va San'ati (Uzbekistan Literature and Art), the organ of the Union of Writers of Uzbekistan. The only news agency was the government-controlled Uzbekistan Telegraph Agency (UzTAG).
Despite extensive constitutional protections, the Karimov government has actively suppressed the rights of political movements, continues to ban unsanctioned public meetings and demonstrations, and continues to arrest opposition figures on fabricated charges. The atmosphere of repression reduces constructive opposition and freedom of expression, and continues to distort the political process, even when institutional changes have been made. In the mid-1990s, legislation established significant rights for independent trade unions, separate from the government, and enhanced individual rights; but enforcement is uneven, and the role of the state security services remains central (see Internal Security, this ch.).
Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, and the United States Department of State consistently have identified the human rights record of Uzbekistan as among the worst in the former Soviet Union. With the exception of sporadic liberalization, all opposition movements and independent media are essentially banned in Uzbekistan. The early 1990s were characterized by arrests and beatings of opposition figures on fabricated charges. For example, one prominent Uzbek, Ibrahim Bureyev, was arrested in 1994 after announcing plans to form a new opposition party. After reportedly being freed just before the March referendum, Bureyev shortly thereafter was arrested again on a charge of possessing illegal firearms and drugs. In April 1995, fewer than two weeks after the referendum extending President Karimov's term, six dissidents were sentenced to prison for distributing the party newspaper of Erk and inciting the overthrow of Karimov. Members of opposition groups have been harassed by Uzbekistan's secret police as far away as Moscow.
Uzbekistan's location, bordering the volatile Middle East, as well as its rich natural resources and commercial potential, thrust it into the international arena almost immediately upon gaining independence. During the early 1990s, wariness of renewed Russian control led Uzbekistan increasingly to seek ties with other countries. Indeed, little over a year after independence, Uzbekistan had been recognized by 120 countries and had opened or planned to open thirty-nine foreign embassies. Experts believed that in this situation Uzbekistan would turn first to neighboring countries such as Iran and Turkey. Although the cultural kinship and proximity of those countries has encouraged closer relations, Uzbekistan also has shown eagerness to work with a range of partners to create a complex web of interrelationships that includes its immediate Central Asian neighbors, Russia and other nations of the CIS, and the immediate Middle Eastern world, with the goal of becoming an integral part of the international community on its own terms.
Relations with ...
<"51.htm">Central Asian States
<"52.htm">Russia and the CIS
<"53.htm">The Middle East and Pakistan
<"55.htm">Western Europe and Japan
<"56.htm">The United States
Chief among Uzbekistan's foreign policy challenges is establishing relations with the other Central Asian states, which at the beginning of the 1990s still were simply neighboring administrative units in the same country. The ties that emerged between Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian states in the first years of independence are a combination of competition and cooperation.
Because they have similar economic structures defined by a focus on raw material extraction and cotton and by the need to divide scarce resources such as water among them, the inherent competition among them contains the potential for enormous strife. This condition was emphasized, for example, in May 1993, when Uzbekistan halted the flow of natural gas to Kyrgyzstan in response to that country's introduction of a new currency.
The potential for strife is exacerbated by the perception of the other Central Asian states that Uzbekistan seeks to play a dominant role in the region. As the only Central Asian state bordering on all the others, Uzbekistan is well placed geographically to become the dominant power in the region. And Uzbekistan has done little to contradict the notion that it has historically based claims on the other Central Asian states: as the historical center of the Quqon and Bukhoro khanates, for example, Uzbekistan believes that it can claim parts of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakstan. Uzbekistan's large and relatively homogeneous population provides it a distinct advantage in exerting control over other republics. Uzbeks also constitute a significant percentage of the populations of the other Central Asian states. For example, roughly one-fourth of Tajikistan's population is Uzbek, and large numbers of Uzbeks populate southern Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakstan. And Uzbekistan's active role in aiding the communist government of Imomali Rahmonov to defeat its opposition in the long-standing civil war in Tajikistan has demonstrated that it is well prepared to use its own armed forces--which are the best armed in Central Asia--to promote its own strategic interests (see The Armed Forces, this ch.). The government of Uzbekistan already has declared its right to intervene to protect Uzbeks living outside its borders.
At the same time, however, economic and political exigencies have also required close cooperation between Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian states. The near collapse of their respective economies and the need to reduce their economic dependence on Russia have also encouraged ties among the Central Asian republics, including Uzbekistan. Isolated from Moscow in some ways and manipulated by Moscow in others, Uzbekistan has found it especially advantageous to enhance relations with Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan. In January 1994, following their formal departure from the ruble zone in November 1993, Kazakstan and Uzbekistan agreed to create their own economic zone to allow for free circulation of goods, services, and capital within the two republics and to coordinate policies on credit and finance, budgets, taxes, customs duties, and currency until the year 2000. Although many other former republics had made similar statements of intent, this marked the first firm economic agreement between two former republics within the CIS.
Since its signing, this agreement has expanded its coverage for the two charter nations and by the addition of a third signatory, Kyrgyzstan. In April 1994, the agreement was extended among all three former republics to abolish all customs controls; and in July 1994, the leaders of the three states met in Almaty to agree to a program of greater economic integration in what they have identified as their "Unified Economic Space." This agreement produced the first steps toward a modicum of institutional change, such as the creation of a Central Asian Bank and an interstate council to formalize bilateral ties. It also marked a commitment for further expansion of direct ties.
Renewed cooperation between Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian states also has been evidenced in areas such as joint efforts to address the Aral Sea problem. For some time even before the breakup of the Soviet Union, conferences and declarations by leaders in Central Asia had called for more cooperation among the five Central Asian republics to resolve the problem of the Aral Sea and regional use of water resources. In December 1992, with World Bank (see Glossary) support, President Karimov took the lead in proposing the creation of a strong, unified interstate organization to resolve the problems of the Aral Sea. The heads of state of all of the Central Asian republics have met several times to coordinate activities, and all members pledged roughly 1 percent of their respective GDPs toward an Aral Sea fund. Although compliance has varied, this type of constructive and unified approach to a mutual problem remained theoretical in the early 1990s.
Equally unclear is the long-term direction of Uzbekistan's relations with Russia. Having had independence thrust upon them by events in Moscow in 1991, the new Central Asian states, Uzbekistan among them, pressed to become "founding members" of the CIS on December 21, 1991. It was clear that none of the countries in that group could soon disentangle the complex of economic and military links that connected them with the Slavic members of the new CIS, and especially with Russia. In Uzbekistan's case, this limitation was characterized mainly by the significant Russian population in Uzbekistan (at that time, nearly 2 million people in a population of 22 million), by certain common interests in the region, and by the close entanglement of the Uzbek economy with the Russian, with the former more dependent on the latter.
Since achieving independence, Uzbekistan's foreign policy toward Russia has fluctuated widely between cooperation and public condemnation of Russia for exacerbating Uzbekistan's internal problems. Serious irritants in the relationship have been Russia's demand that Uzbekistan deposit a large portion of its gold reserves in the Russian Central Bank in order to remain in the ruble zone (which became a primary rationale for Uzbekistan's introduction of its own national currency in 1993) and Russia's strong pressure to provide Russians in Uzbekistan with dual citizenship. In 1994 and 1995, a trend within Russia toward reasserting more control over the regions that Russian foreign policy makers characterize as the "near abroad," boosted by the seeming dominance of conservative forces in this area in Moscow, has only compounded Uzbekistan's wariness of relations with Russia.
In its period of post-Soviet transformation, Uzbekistan also has found it advantageous to preserve existing links with Russia and the other former Soviet republics. For that pragmatic reason, since the beginning of 1994 Uzbekistan has made particular efforts to improve relations with the other CIS countries. Between 1993 and early 1996, regional cooperation was most visible in Tajikistan, where Uzbekistani troops fought alongside Russian troops, largely because of the two countries' shared emphasis on Islamic fundamentalism as an ostensible threat to Central Asia and to Russia's southern border. And 1994 and 1995 saw increased efforts to widen economic ties with Russia and the other CIS states. Economic and trade treaties have been signed with Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan, and collective security and/or military agreements have been signed with Russia, Armenia, and other Central Asian states. Largely because of its important role in Uzbekistan's national security, Russia has retained the role of preferred partner in nonmilitary treaties as well).
Because of Uzbekistan's long historical and cultural ties to the Persian, Turkish, and Arab worlds, its immediate neighbors to the south--Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey--were the natural direction for expanded foreign relations. Although cultural relations with formerly dominant Iran and Turkey ended with the Soviet Revolution in 1917, Uzbekistan's relations with its southern neighbors increased dramatically after independence. Iran and Turkey have been especially active in pursuing economic projects and social, cultural, and diplomatic initiatives in Uzbekistan. Turkey was the first country to recognize Uzbekistan and among the first to open an embassy in Tashkent. The Turks made early commitments for expansion of trade and cooperation, including the promise to fund 2,000 scholarships for Uzbek students to study in Turkey. Uzbekistan also has been the recipient of most of the US$700 million in credits that Turkey has given the new Central Asian states.
Although initially apprehensive about the spread of an Iranian-style Islamic fundamentalist movement in Central Asia, Uzbekistan also has found mutual economic interests with Iran, and the two have pursued overland links and other joint ventures. Relations with Pakistan have followed suit, with particular commercial interest in hydroelectric power, gas pipelines, and other projects. And a meeting of the heads of state of Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey in Turkmenistan in early 1995 underscored the continuing interest of those countries in the Central Asian region as a whole.
One forum that has emerged as a potentially important structure for cooperation among these countries has been the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO--see Glossary), a loose regional economic organization to foster trade and cooperation among its members in the Middle East and South Asia. Although during its almost two decades of existence ECO has achieved little concrete economic cooperation, in November 1992 the inclusion of the five new Central Asian states, Afghanistan, and Azerbaijan brought significant efforts to reinvigorate the organization. At a meeting in Quetta, Pakistan, in February 1993, an ambitious plan was announced to create a new regional economic bloc among ECO's members by the year 2000. The plan calls for expanding ties in all economic sectors, in training, and in tourism; setting up an effective transportation infrastructure; and ultimately abolishing restrictions limiting the free flow of people and commodities. Energy trade also is to be expanded through the laying of oil and gas pipelines and power transmission lines throughout the region. Given ECO's past performance, however, in 1996 the potential for fulfillment of such plans was quite unclear.
Trade and cooperation agreements have also been signed with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern states. The pragmatic rather than religious background of such endeavors is underscored by Uzbekistan's rapidly expanding ties with Israel, a nation that shares none of the history and culture of Uzbekistan. Following a visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to Uzbekistan in July 1994, Israel and Uzbekistan signed agreements expanding commercial relations, protecting foreign investments and the development of business ties, aviation links, and tourism. In the early 1990s, Israel's long participation in Uzbekistani irrigation projects has been supplemented by aid projects in health care, industry, and the two countries' common battle against radical Islamic groups.
China also has sought to develop relations with Central Asia. This was highlighted in May 1994, by the visit of the Chinese premier, Li Peng, to Tashkent. Since 1991 China has become the second largest trading partner in Central Asia after Russia. During Li Peng's visit, Uzbekistan and China signed four agreements designed to increase trade, including the granting of a Chinese loan to Uzbekistan, the establishment of air freight transport between the two countries, and the Chinese purchase of Uzbekistani cotton and metals. The two countries also agreed to settle all territorial disputes through negotiation, and they found common territory in their desire to reform their economies without relinquishing strict political control. At the same time, however, policy makers in Uzbekistan also view China as one of Uzbekistan's chief potential threats, requiring the same kind of balanced approach as that adopted toward Russia. Indeed, despite the large volume of trade between China and Central Asia, China is lowest on the list of desired trading partners and international donors among Uzbekistan's population. In a 1993 survey, only about 3 percent of respondents believed that China is a desirable source of foreign financial assistance.
In the first four years of independence, the West occupied an increasing place in Uzbekistan's foreign policy. As relations with its immediate neighbors have been expanding, pragmatic geopolitical and economic considerations have come to dominate ethnic and religious identities as motivations for policy decisions. This approach has increased the interest of the Uzbekistani government in expanding ties with the West and with Japan.
In the early 1990s, Uzbekistan became a member of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF--see Glossary), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE, formerly the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, CSCE--see Glossary), the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and a number of other international organizations. In that context, Uzbekistan is the beneficiary of several aid projects of varying magnitudes. The World Bank has designed missions and projects totaling hundreds of millions of dollars for such programs as the Cotton Sub-Sector Development Program to improve farm productivity, income, and international cotton marketing conditions and a program to address the problems of the Aral Sea. In April 1995, the World Bank allocated US$160 million in credit to Uzbekistan. In February 1995, the IMF approved a loan to support the Uzbekistani government's macroeconomic stabilization and systemic reform program. The first installment of the loan, roughly US$75 million, will be funded over a ten-year period; the second installment is to follow six months later, provided the government's macroeconomic stabilization program is being implemented. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) likewise approved several million dollars for projects in Uzbekistan. These signs of greater involvement by the international community in Uzbekistan are largely stimulated by the political stability that the government has been able to maintain and in disregard of the human rights record, but many investors still are cautious.
The United States recognized Uzbekistan as an independent state in December 1991; diplomatic relations were established in February 1992, following a visit by Secretary of State James Baker to the republic, and the United States opened an embassy in Tashkent the following month. During 1992, a variety of United States aid programs were launched. Operation Provide Hope delivered an estimated US$6 million of food and medical supplies for emergency relief of civilians affected by the Tajik civil war; the Peace Corps sent its first group of about fifty volunteers to Uzbekistan; an agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) began encouraging United States private investment in Uzbekistan by providing direct loans and loan guarantees and helping to match projects with potential investors; and humanitarian and technical assistance began to move to a wide range of recipients. In 1993 the United States granted Uzbekistan most-favored-nation trade status, which went into force in January 1994. In March 1994, a bilateral assistance agreement and an open lands agreement were signed. In 1995 a variety of investment and other treaties were under discussion, and several United States non-governmental organizations were initiating joint projects throughout Uzbekistan.
In the first two years of Uzbekistan's independence, the United States provided roughly US$17 million in humanitarian assistance andUS$13 million in technical assistance. For a time, continued human rights violations in Uzbekistan led to significant restrictions in the bilateral relationship, and Uzbekistan received significantly less United States assistance than many of the other former Soviet republics. Because Uzbekistan was slow to adopt fundamental economic reforms, nonhumanitarian United States assistance was largely restricted to programs that support the building of democratic institutions and market reform. By the end of 1995, however, United States-Uzbekistan relations were improving, and significantly more bilateral economic activity was expected in 1996.
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