Uzbek soldiers and military hardware on the streets of Andijon after a crackdown in which at least 187 people were killed (epa)
PRAGUE, August 22, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- NATO's special representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia today said the alliance hopes to improve its cooperation with the states of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan.
Robert Simmons told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that the military crackdown in Andijon in May 2005 obviously put a chill on Uzbek-NATO ties, but he said he hoped relations could soon improve and that Uzbek President Islam Karimov would soften its criticism of the alliance.
"Our hope would be that after a period of time we can begin to improve relations and I think his own rhetoric towards NATO and the West in general has improved a little bit," Simmons said.
Simmons added that Uzbekistan's recent readmission into the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) should not affect its future collaboration with NATO.
Uzbekistan was readmitted into the CSTO on the sidelines of an informal summit of CIS leaders on August 17 in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan had left the organization in 1999.
President Karimov (left) with Russian President Putin in July 2005 (epa)
BETWEEN EAST AND WEST: One of the ramifications of the May 2005 bloodshed in Andijon has been a souring of relations between Tashkent and the West, accompanied by a raproachment between Uzbekistan and Russia. Following sharp U.S. and European criticism of the Andijon crackdown, Uzbekistan kicked the United States out of the Karshi-Khanabad air base and began actively courting Moscow.
"Today, we are reaching an unprecedented level in our relationship," Uzbek President Islam Karimov said during a November 2005 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at which the leaders signed a strategic-partnership agreement. "I understand and we all understand in Uzbekistan that it is unprecedented that Russia signs such a partnership agreement with Uzbekistan."
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THE COMPLETE STORY: A dedicated webpage bringing together all of RFE/RL's coverage of the events in Andijon, Uzbekistan, in May 2005 and their continuing repercussions.
For an annotated timeline of the Andijon events and their repercussions, click here.