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Uzbekistan: EBRD Opens Annual Meeting Amid Criticism

Tashkent, 3 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) begins its annual meetings later today in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. The EBRD has been criticized for holding the three-day meeting in Uzbekistan, regularly criticized for its poor human rights record.

Human Rights Watch said yesterday that Uzbekistan had failed to ensure an open and free environment for the EBRD meeting. The New York-based rights group sent a letter to Uzbek President Islam Karimov calling for progress on human rights.

Karimov will open today's proceedings along with the EBRD President Jean Lemierre. Yesterday, Lemierre urged Uzbekistan to open up more to its Central Asian neighbors if it wants more help from the bank.