NATO's relations with Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is actively developing relations with NATO and has identified a broad range of areas for dialogue and practical cooperation through its Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP). This IPCP forms the basis of its cooperation with NATO and includes, for instance, the development of armed forces and countering modern security threats.
Left to right: President Islam Karimov shaking hands with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Defence-related fields of cooperation are being carried out primarily through the Planning and Review Process (PARP), which Uzbekistan joined in 2002. Other areas of practical cooperation include education, training of personnel, civil emergency planning and science.
Uzbekistan first engaged in relations with NATO in 1992, when it joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997). It has since joined a series of other programmes to reinforce its foreign policy strategy of promoting peace and stability in Central Asia as one of its key priorities is to prevent wars and armed conflicts.
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.
Dialogue takes place within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). The NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, conducts high-level political dialogue with Uzbek authorities through regular visits to the country. The NATO Liaison Officer in Central Asia is based in Tashkent and is responsible for regularly engaging with the government on cooperation.
Under the PfP programme, NATO and Uzbekistan are developing practical cooperation in a number of areas through the country’s IPCP, PARP and the DEEP.
NATO-Uzbekistan relations began in 1992, when Uzbekistan joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (later replaced by the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997). Relations further developed in 1994, when Uzbekistan signed up to the PfP programme, and in 2002, when the country acceded to the PARP.
The process of supporting Uzbekistan’s domestic reforms intensified, and the country’s role in PfP activities continued to increase. While Uzbekistan-NATO relations declined to some extent following the events in Andijan in 2005, currently NATO and Uzbekistan engage in regular dialogue through the EAPC and are actively redeveloping cooperation in a number of specific fields.
Uzbekistan joins the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, renamed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.
Uzbekistan joins the Partnership for Peace (PfP).
Uzbekistan signs a security agreement with NATO.
Uzbekistan and NATO agree on the country's first Individual Partnership Programme (IPP).
Uzbekistan signs the PfP Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the Allies.
Uzbekistan is connected to the Virtual Silk Highway.
Uzbekistan joins the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP).
NATO and partner countries complete a major disaster response exercise in Uzbekistan.
NATO’s Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, calls for an independent investigation into the events at Andijan in May; the NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopts a declaration also recommending an independent investigation into these events.
Uzbekistan signs an agreement to carry out a Science for Peace and Security project aimed to destroy the country’s stocks of mélange, a very toxic substance.
Conversion of the country’s stock of the toxic mélange into a harmless chemical begins near Samarkand.
NATO completes arrangements with several countries, including Uzbekistan, for the transit of non-lethal ISAF cargo to Afghanistan by rail.
Mélange conversion project successfully completed.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, visits NATO Headquarters and meets with the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in January.
Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Defence Minister Kabul Berdiev attend the 25th NATO Summit in Chicago.
In April, Uzbekistan agrees its first Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme with NATO.
Office of the NATO Liaison Officer opens in Tashkent.
A Defence Education and Enhancement Programme (DEEP) is established with Uzbekistan.
NATO Depository Library is opened at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.