Uzbekistan Will Come Back Soon, CSTO Insists
Uzbekistan will come crawling back into the arms of Russia as soon as the security situation in Afghanistan worsens, says the head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Nikolay Bordyuzha. Bordyuzha, speaking at a Moscow event commemorating the 20th anniversary of the organization, emphasized that for the CSTO, Uzbekistan's departure from the Russia-dominated security bloc was no big deal, and even had some positives, he insisted: "For several months we have agreed on many projects and decisions, acceptance of which Uzbekistan was blocking." But its departure from the CSTO will be a big deal for Uzbekistan, he says: "As soon as things get difficult, the situation will change. I don't think this will take long."
It seems that the CSTO doth protest too much. At the organization's security council meeting next month in Moscow, members will "make the final decision" regarding Uzbekistan's membership (apparently without Uzbekistan's input). The frequency with which CSTO officials talk about Uzbekistan reminds one of a guy whose girlfriend dumps him, who then proceeds to constantly talk about how much better off he is without her -- adding that she will probably come back to him anyway when she understands the mistake she's made.
Uzbekistan's government and media have been pretty silent on this issue, but this most recent statement was apparently enough to elicit a response from Fakhriddin Nizamov, writing on Polit.uz.
Apparently, Mr. Bordyuzha rubs his hands with pleasure that the situation in Central Asia will worsen after the announced withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan and events will develop according to a scenario of those whose interests he represents...
Civilized relations are out of the question as long as politicians like Mr. Bordyuzha who are at the head of such regional structures like CSTO have not yet learned to treat their partners on an equal footing. All integration efforts will make no progress and run against a quiet sabotage of all decisions by the partners.
A piece on Bordyuzha's comments in Novaya Gazeta reports that among the results of Uzbekistan's departure is that some in Dushanbe are asking whether the CSTO will intervene on the side of Tajikistan in the event of a war between them and Uzbekistan. And indeed, the hope that Uzbekistan will come back to the CSTO is somewhat at odds with the reports -- if they're in fact true -- that Russia is planning a huge military aid package for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as a counterweight to what Moscow sees as a worryingly close relationship between Uzbekistan and the U.S. Though, these could be two sides of a good-cop-bad-cop routine, too -- who knows. Whatever the case, Russia seems a lot more concerned about Uzbekistan's departure from the CSTO than Uzbekistan does.
Joshua Kucera, a senior correspondent, is Eurasianet's former Turkey/Caucasus editor and has written for the site since 2007.