On the eve of and during his visit to Turkmenistan, Karimov expressed strong disagreement with the decision to grant basing rights to Russian forces in Tajikistan (see the Monitor, April 8). “Why are Russian military bases needed in Tajikistan? The pacification process is in full swing in Tajikistan. The war in Afghanistan has ebbed, as the warring parties realize that a military solution has no future. Tajikistan’s neighbors may well ask: Against whom are those bases really aimed?… What countries are being targeted? The militarization of the region is being increased, instead of being decreased. New military bases could worsen the situation in Central Asia.”
Karimov went on to compare the Russian military deployments in Tajikistan and in Armenia, noting the destabilizing effects of such deployments on the neighboring countries in both regions (Itar-Tass, April 9). Tashkent has for some time highlighted that analogy, citing it as one of the reasons for its decision to quit the CIS Collective Security Treaty (see the Monitor, February 5). Uzbekistan’s assessment supports that of Azerbaijan and reflects Tashkent’s stake in the independence of South Caucasus countries, which provide Uzbekistan’s lifeline to Europe in circumventing Russia.
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