Europe and Central Asia

Uzbekistan: EBRD Should Require Human Rights Progress
Reactions, Responses, and Media Coverage
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Media Coverage

The following is a non-exhaustive list of articles that have appeared in the press regarding the EBRD annual meeting in Tashkent

  • Freedom for a day - Uzbekistan politics
    The Economist, 10 May 2003

  • Uzbek Govt Repressed Opponents During EBRD Mtg-Rights Grp
    Dow Jones International News, 7 May 2003

  • EBRD should defend Uzbek activists after showcase meeting: US rights group
    Agence France-Presse, 7 May 2003

  • The EBRD's Uzbek Burden
    By Geoffrey T. Smith, The Wall Street Journal Europe, 7 May 2003

  • Uzbekistan - EBRD President Threatens Uzbek Leader with Funding Cuts
    By Dario Thuburn, WMRC Daily Analysis, 6 May 2003

  • EBRD Meeting in Tashkent Proves to be PR Nightmare for Karimov
    By Esmer Islamov, Eurasia Net, 6 May 2003

  • EBRD hits trouble as Uzbek human rights hopes wane
    By David Chance, Reuters News, 6 May 2003

  • Uzbek president snubs EBRD human rights plea
    By Mark Milner, The Guardian, 5 May 2003

  • EBRD To Dangle Carrot At Recalcitrant Uzbeks
    By Geoffrey T. Smith, Dow Jones International News, 5 May 2003

  • Tortured words - The EBRD is learning some important lessons in Uzbekistan
    Financial Times, 5 May 2003

  • European bank criticizes lack of freedoms and poor investment climate in Central Asia
    By Bagila Bukharbayeva, Associated Press Newswires, 5 May 2003

  • EBRD demands reform from Uzbek president
    By David Stern and Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times, 5 May 2003

  • EBRD Meeting No Showcase for Uzbekistan
    By Alec Appelbaum, Transitions Online, 5 May 2003

  • Uzbek President silent on torture, disappoints EBRD
    By Alexei Kalmykov, Reuters News, 4 May 2003

  • Uzbek leader skirts rights issue as EBRD opens annual session
    By Sylvie Lanteaume, Agence France-Presse, 4 May 2003

  • Uzbek leader ends EBRD opening speech without condemning torture
    BBC Monitoring Newsfile, 4 May 2003

  • UK development secretary urges Uzbek leader to tackle torture at EBRD forum
    BBC Monitoring Newsfile, 4 May 2003

  • Slow reforms better, Uzbeks say before EBRD meet.
    By Shamil Baigin, Reuters News, 3 May 2003

  • European bank annual meeting opens with strong criticism of Uzbekistan's repressive policies
    By Bagila Bukharbayeva, Associated Press Newswires, 3 May 2003

  • Uzbek president under pressure as EBRD banks on rights reform
    By David Stern and Stefan Wagstyl, Financial Times, 2 May 2003

  • Leading rights watchdog says Uzbek authorities failed to provide free environment for EBRD meeting
    By Bagila Bukharbayeva, Associated Press Newswires, 2 May 2003

  • EBRD heads to Uzbekistan for annual meeting shrouded in controversy
    By Sylvie Lanteaume, Agence France-Presse, 2 May 2003

  • People of Tashkent sceptical at Uzbek makeover for showcase meeting
    By Galima Bukharbayeva, Agence France-Presse, 2 May 2003

  • EBRD gathering in Tashkent: incentive for progress or endorsement of repression?
    By Veronika Leila Szente Goldston, Vihreä Lanka, May 2, 2003, and CEE Bankwatch Mail, 30 April, 2003

  • Leading rights watchdog urges Uzbekistan to make progress on human rights ahead of EBRD summit
    By: Bagila Bukharbayeva, Associated Press Newswires 19 March, 2003

  • EBRD issues Uzbekistan with reform ultimatum
    By Mark Milner, The Guardian 17 March, 2003

  • Uzbek TV to Broadcast Critical Speeches at EBRD Meeting
    Dow Jones International News 16 March, 2003

  • Investment in Uzbekistan tied to human rights progress, says EBRD
    Agence France-Presse 16 March, 2003

  • EBRD sets deadline for improved Uzbek rights, economy
    Reuters News 16 March, 2003

  • Rights activists write open letter against planned EBRD summit in Uzbekistan
    Associated Press Newswires 14 March, 2003

  • Clare Short Helps Out a Tyrant
    New Statesman,  HRW Editorial, February 24, 2003

  • Bumping along Silk Road
    As the European Union expands eastward, its financial outrider finds itself in ever more alien lands
    The Guardian, February 7, 2003

  • Using International Levers for Change in Central Asia
    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty "(Un)Civil Societies", December 18, 2002

  • EBRD May Pull Out of Uzbekistan Meeting over Human Rights Concerns
    WMRC Daily Analysis, December 18, 2002

  • EBRD Pres: Uzbek Meeting May Yet Be Relocated To London
    Dow Jones International News, December 17, 2002

  • EBRD's Uzbek Meeting Under Review
    The Financial Times, December 17, 2002

  • Trouble in Tashkent: The West - and particularly the US - seems blind to Uzbekistan's cruel government
    The Observer, December 15, 2002

  • Tashkent venue prompts concern
    Financial Times, November 27, 2002

  • EBRD Chief To Meet Karimov Amid Criticism Over Board Meeting in Tashkent
    RFE/Ron Synovitz, November 26, 2002

  • EBRD President to Probe Uzbek Reforms Ahead of Tashkent Board Meeting
    RFE/Synovitz, November 26, 2002

  • Former Soviet states fail to reform
    The Guardian, November 25, 2002

  • The European Bank for Repression and Dictatorship?
    The Economist, October 5, 2002

Reactions and Responses

    "Although the Government of Uzbekistan has made some reform gestures in recent months, these measures are painfully inadequate. Uzbek authorities must be pressed to take measures that foster genuine democratic evolution and respect for the rights of the individual, as they pledged in the Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework Between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the United States of America."
      Source: letter to the Honorable John B. Taylor, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, Department of the Treasury from the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Washington D.C., April 16, 2003. Download 117K PDF

    "The EU noted that the EBRD meeting in Tashkent in May 2003 would focus international attention on the country. The EU expressed the hope that, by the time of the meeting, Uzbekistan would demonstrate to the international community further political and economic changes."

    "The Committee notes that Article 1 of the Agreement Establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) states that the Bank's purpose is to foster transition toward market economies in countries that are committed to and applying the principles of multiparty democracy and pluralism. The Committee, therefore, is troubled by the EBRD's decision to hold its annual meeting next year in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and expects the Treasury Department and the EBRD to use this opportunity to urge the Government of Uzbekistan to meet its commitments under the `Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework Between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the United States of America', by ensuring respect for human rights and freedoms, building a multiparty democracy, and implementing judicial and legal reforms."
      Source: United States Senate report 107-219, accompanying S. 2779).

    "Dear Representatives of NGOs, Thank you for your letter of 16 May. We had the opportunity to discuss many of the matters you raise when I met some of you at the EBRD Annual Meeting in Bucharest. [...] As I have said publicly, the EBRD does not consider the location of its 2003 Meeting in Tashkent to be an endorsement of current government policy. [...] We will continue to stress over the coming months of preparations that this will be Uzbekistan'a opportunity to impress through progress."

    "Really, it is quite unacceptable that the EBRD is even considering going to Uzbekistan in 2003 without a change in its internal system which is repressive and undemocratic."
      Lord Russell-Johnston, former president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and currently the chair of the board of the International Institute for Democracy, writing to EBRD President Lemierre on May 21, 2002. Click here for a press statement issued by Lord Russell-Johnston on the subject that same day.

    "The Assembly [...] hopes that the Bank’s decision to hold its next annual meeting in Uzbekistan in 2003 will provide an opportunity to improve the situation in that country as regards democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the functioning of civil society.”
      The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly resolution on the activities of the EBRD, adopted on June 25, 2002. The full text of the resolution is available here.

    "Back in 1999 the Bank had decided to hold its forthcoming conference in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. [...] However, holding a conference in a particular region was no an endorsement of the policies being pursued in that region, it was an incentive to further progress."
      EBRD President Jean Lemierre, in his address to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on June 25, 2002.

    "Next year our meeting will be in Tashkent. [...] This was decided long before [...] I was President of the Ba nk [...]. An annual meeting is an incentive to make progress, and not an endorsement."
      (EBRD President Jean Lemierre, speaking before the press at the conclusion of the 2002 annual meetin g in Bucharest, on May 20, 2002.


    On January 27, foreign ministers of the fifteen E.U. member states and their Uzbek counterpart gathered in Brussels for the E.U.-Uzbekistan Cooperation Council, the single most important bilateral meeting of the year between the E.U. and Uzbekistan. Conclusions of past E.U. Cooperation Councils with Uzbekistan, and E.U. action to promote human rights in Central Asia overall, have been disappointingly weak, but recent months have seen a significant change as the E.U. increasingly uses its leverage in the region to press for progress in human rights.

    The conclusions issued following the meeting were unprecedented in their frankness and detail in identifying the numerous shortcomings that continue to mar the Uzbek government’s human rights record. The conclusions also called for specific measures to address these shortcomings. They made clear that "any possible development of closer political relations between the E.U. and Uzbekistan would depend upon respect for shared values"; "affirm[ed] the vital necessity of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms (including freedom of speech) in the fight against terrorism"; and "expressed... strong concerns about cases of torture in detention centers, and asked for impartial investigation of deaths of prisoners or other people in custody." Noting the forthcoming annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) scheduled to take place in Tashkent in May, the E.U. made clear that it expected the Uzbek authorities to "demonstrate to the international community further political and economic changes" in advance of the meeting.

    The E.U. in the conclusions gave credit where due for progress but made sure to note that more progress was needed. For example, while welcoming the visit of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture to Uzbekistan last fall, the E.U. "requested that Uzbekistan implement his recommendations and those of the U.N. Committee against Torture." In a similar vein, it "expressed appreciation" for the agreement signed between the Uzbek government and the ICRC in 2001, but also "urge[d]" the Uzbek authorities "to promote full implementation" of it so as to sustain the conditions necessary for ICRC visits to places of detention to continue. The E.U. also welcomed the registration of the first ever independent national human rights organization, the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan, in early 2002, but called on the Uzbek leadership "to take further steps towards development of civil society in Uzbekistan based upon the rule of law, including registration of other NGOs and political parties."

    In a letter sent to E.U. foreign ministers in November 2002, and in follow-up meetings in Brussels, London, Paris, and Tashkent, Human Rights Watch called on the E.U. to use the January meeting to extract concrete human rights concessions from the Uzbek government and encouraged the E.U. to link these improvements to the annual meeting of the EBRD.

    Read the November letter at

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