>>Ahead of a busy period pulling equipment out of Afghanistan, NATO opens an office in Tashkent
JUNE 3, 2013 — Over the past couple of years, NATO has slowly been building relations with Uzbekistan. The Western military alliance needs Uzbekistan’s help to pull kit and equipment out of neighbouring Afghanistan.
Deals have been made ahead of the military pull-out, scheduled for 2013 and 2014, and promises of friendships pledged.
Now NATO plans to open an office in Tashkent, media reported (May 28). NATO said the move was planned as part of a rotational policy and the office was simply moving from Astana to Tashkent.
Maybe, but the timing is also good for NATO. They have to coordinate pulling out hundreds of military vehicles across Uzbekistan to Russia over the next couple of years. They also have to work out what kit to leave behind in Uzbekistan.
Dealing with Uzbekistan is tricky. It was only a few years ago, when the West didn’t need its support for their war in Afghanistan, that Uzbekistan was considered a pariah state with a distasteful human rights record.
Eurasianet quoted a NATO spokesperson as saying that the office in Tashkent would open up in either June or July and that it would have diplomatic status.
This story was first published in issue 137 of the Conway Bulletin newssheet. To sign up go to www.conway.starbit.co.uk