Thaw in Uzbekistan. Reforms by President Mirziyoyev

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Series Details No.278, 16.07.2018
Publication Date 06/07/2018
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It has been almost two years since the death of the long-serving leader of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, and since Shavkat Mirziyoyev took up power (September 2016).

The change has had spectacular results, including signs of liberalisation of the previous, extremely authoritarian system of rule, and economic reform, for instance with regard to stimulating growth of small-scale business, and in fact activation of Uzbekistan on the international stage and normalisation of relations with neighbours.

Meanwhile, certainly the most important process under way in Uzbekistan is that of consolidation of power by the new president, and a key element of this is dismantling the might enjoyed to date by the National Security Service.

The curbing of the position of the National Security Service, which has been successful so far, entails internal restructuring of the state apparatus. The limited liberalisation and opening up to the world are mainly a result of this process.

Mirziyoyev has created a new dynamic both internally and in the region. The effects will only become clear in the long term. The outcome of this new situation is uncertain; consolidation of the new president’s power and the ensuing reforms are accompanied by constantly recurring crises which were frozen during Karimov’s rule. There are also external threats – a possibility of return to custodianship of Russia, a country which is fortifying its position, China’s increasing economic dominance, and growing strength of radicals among the Uzbek minority in northern Afghanistan.

The emerging processes are therefore proceeding fast, and thus it is hard to determine whether the new Uzbekistan under President Mirziyoyev will prove to be a stable country in which the liberal reforms will continue.

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