Closer relations with Uzbekistan
On 16 May, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr James Apparthurai paid a visit to Uzbekistan and met Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and Defence Minister Kabul Berdiev. The meetings focused on NATO’s partnership with Uzbekistan, which includes areas of cooperation such as defence education and the Science for Peace and Security programme. They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, NATO’s commitment to the Central Asian region and ways to deepen the mutually beneficial cooperation.
A NATO Liaison Officer for Central Asia
Building on a solid relationship that dates back to 1992, NATO has recently reinforced its cooperation with Uzbekistan by basing a NATO Liaison Officer for Central Asia in Tashkent. The NATO Liaison Officer is responsible for facilitating NATO’s engagement with all of the countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The officer has been appointed since March 2013 and the office was officially opened during the visit of the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative. There was a joint ribbon-cutting ceremony with a representative of the Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan and a reception co-hosted by the Italian Embassy, which serves as the NATO Contact Point Embassy in Uzbekistan.
During his visit, Mr Appathurai also addressed students of the Academy of State Governance under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on “NATO, Central Asia, and Afghanistan”, with a focus on the post-2014 security environment. He stressed the importance of cooperation – both practical and political – as key to addressing the threats of violent extremism, criminality, weapons- and narco-trafficking, and terrorism.
The first NATO Depository Library
He also used the occasion to open the first NATO Depository Library in Uzbekistan at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED) in Tashkent. While at UWED, he fielded questions from students and faculty about regional security and NATO’s relationship with Uzbekistan and the wider Central Asian region. The Depository Library makes a wide variety of materials and resources in the form of books and periodicals on security issues available to students.