From 2002 onwards, Uzbekistan played an important role in supporting Allied operations in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan permitted Germany the use of its airfield at Termez. It also allowed over-flight and transit permission for Allied forces and supplies. Uzbekistan continues to be a main transit route for humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan, the majority of which is delivered via the Hairaton Bridge. Specialists from Uzbekistan also assisted in implementing tangible infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, including the reconstruction of ten bridges connecting the northern part of the country with Kabul.
In 2009, Uzbekistan, along with Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, completed an agreement with NATO allowing the transportation of non-lethal ISAF cargo to Afghanistan by rail.
Defence and security sector reform
NATO supports the democratic and institutional reform processes in Uzbekistan. Specifically in the area of defence and security sector reform, NATO and individual Allies have considerable expertise that Uzbekistan can draw upon.
Uzbekistan’s participation in the PARP since 2002 aims to attain interoperability between elements of its armed forces and those of NATO Allies. While there was a pause in PARP cooperation following the events in Andijan in 2005, Uzbekistan reaffirmed its participation in the programme in 2010.
Along with several other countries in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has received counter-terrorism training through NATO-funded courses. In May 2010, officials from Uzbekistan attended an Advanced Training Course, funded through NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme, to learn the latest counter-terrorism methods and strategies. Uzbekistan has also benefited from counter-narcotics training, which has resulted in improved capabilities to interdict narcotics trafficking.
Uzbekistan continues to participate in seminars and workshops on defence policy and strategy within the PfP framework, as well as military education of Uzbek officers, with an emphasis on English language training. Since 2013, Uzbekistan has engaged in a Defence Education and Enhancement Programme (DEEP) with NATO. This programme provides expertise on how to build, develop and reform educational institutions in the security, defence and military domain. Over the next three years, NATO-led multinational teams of academics will provide assistance in developing four courses in the fields of NATO familiarisation, NATO staff planning procedures, counter-terrorism, and civil emergency planning. Work has also begun on the establishment of a Partnership for Peace Training Centre in Uzbekistan.
Civil emergency planning
Civil emergency planning and disaster-relief coordination are significant areas of cooperation. Uzbekistan hosted the first EAPC exercise held in Central Asia in April 2003. Exercise Ferghana 2003 simulated an international response to a major earthquake in the region.
NATO and Uzbekistan are continuing cooperation in this area today. Uzbekistan is developing its civil response capacity for natural and man-made emergency situations in consultation with the Allies. This includes updating planning procedures and organisation methods for rescue operations.
Science and environment
Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Uzbekistan has received grant awards for over 50 projects for scientific and environmental collaboration, while scientists and experts from Uzbekistan have had leading roles in 164 activities, including in various cooperative activities as participants and key speakers.
Uzbekistan has participated in a number of scientific projects with NATO Allies, including the Virtual Silk Highway project, which aims to improve internet access for academic and research communities in countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia through a satellite-based network.
In May 2013, a workshop held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan addressed the prevention of potential crises and conflicts through disaster forecasting, modeling, and sustainable development. Also ongoing is a multi-year research project to assess and monitor trans-boundary water pollution – an area of crucial importance to the social and economic well-being of populations in the region. The project includes experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Uzbekistan is the embassy of Italy.
Cooperation in the area of public diplomacy with Uzbekistan aims to raise awareness of the Alliance and the benefits of partnership with NATO as well as engaging with key opinion formers and civil society. In 2014, NATO opened a Depository Library in Uzbekistan’s University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent. Academics, government officials and opinion formers from Uzbekistan are also regularly invited to visit NATO Headquarters for briefings about the Alliance.