High Level Roundtable Discussion: “Uzbekistan opening? Warming to Democratic Reform and Neighbours”

“Uzbekistan opening? Warming to Democratic Reform and Neighbours”

On 14 June 2018 the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with the Europe-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) programme of the Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) and with the support of  the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) organized a high level roundtable discussion entitled “Uzbekistan opening? Warming to Democratic Reform and Neighbours”

The roundtable discussion focused on future EU-Uzbekistan relations and identified the priorities of democratic reform within the country. It featured views from EU officials on the scope for deepening bilateral relations and analysis by experts from Central Asia of the depth of current political transformations and the spheres that offer the most potential for international and regional reengagement.

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Opening remarks underlining the importance of the discussion were delivered by Iskra Kirova – Senior Policy Analyst at OSEPI, Samuel Doveri Vesterbye – ENC Managing Director, and Jos Boonstra – EUCAM Coordinator (CESS). The keynote speeches were given by Amb. Peter Burian – European Union Special Representative for Central Asia and Alisher Ilkhamov – Programme Officer, Open Society Foundations (OSF). These focused on the future prospects for EU-Uzbekistan relations in the light of the country’s new open stance towards reform. The speeches also included insights on the EU’s future role in the country.

The first panel featured contributions from Alisher Siddique – Director of RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service; Zaynab M. Dost – Head Deal Reporter / Relationship Manager for CEE and FSU; and Sevara Khamidova – EUCAM Fellow. The discussion was moderated by Jos Boonstra – EUCAM Coordinator (CESS) and included viewpoints regarding the status of the media within the country, the developments in the field of education, and the role of civil society.

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The second panel considered Uzbekistan’s domestic and foreign policy in relation to its neighboring countries and new possibilities for regional cooperation. In particular, inputs regarding the country’s current and future relations with Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan were presented by Diana Mamatova – former Central Asia Program (CAP) fellow; Sergey Marinin – EUCAM Fellow; and Nushofarin Noziri – EUCAM Fellow. The conversation was moderated by Andreas Marazis, ENC Head Researcher for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.