Addressing a gathering of foreign diplomats and journalists accredited to Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov urged western European countries to pay greater attention to Uzbekistan and Central Asia in general. Karimov described Germany, "the country on the rise," as the key to Uzbekistan’s efforts to establish cooperation with western Europe and expressed the hope that German diplomacy and business would view relations with Uzbekistan in terms of long-term partnership. At the same time, Karimov advised Russia not to view Central Asia’s economic development as running counter to Russian interests. He commented that the CIS was being harmed by "attempts to give it a political flavor or military-political goals, or to use it for restoring the old type of economic relations." (15)
Germany has trailed behind the USA in terms of investment and political engagement in Uzbekistan, but German business commitments have been growing since Karimov’s 1995 official visit to that country. On the last day of 1995, Uzbek officials confirmed the go-ahead to a DM 200 million project by the Siemens company to modernize Uzbekistan’s television and radio network. (16) Karimov’s admonitions to Russia parallel those issued days earlier by Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev (see Monitor, December 29) and testify to these leaders’ growing willingness to pursue national interests outside the Russian orbit.