The concept of transition of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the market economy consists of five principles formulated by its President Islam Karimov:
1. Economy should have priority over politics. Economic reforms should not follow the lead of political processes.
2. The State is the main reformer. The representatives of legally elected authorities have to determine priorities and pursue balanced policy of no social shocks.
3. Along with economic reforms it is necessary to create a system of social protection of the Republic population especially of most vulnerable groups.
4. Superiority of Law and Constitution.
5. Stage by stage movement to the market economy. The transition to next stage only after the current stage targets have been met..
I. Political and Economic Background
To understand the politics of Uzbekistan it is important to delve into its most recent history. The leader from 1959-1983 was Sharaf Rashidov, who ruled in a quasi-feudal fashion, much like the newly elected leader. Rashidov kept the USSR content through a combination of patronage, corruption, and repressive behavior. Once Mikhail Gorbachev was elected, Rashidov was the prime target for his drive to eliminate corruption. Although there was an upsurge of national identity among the Uzbeks and a feeling of victimization by the thousands of corrupt officials who where soon imprisoned, incredibly through more repression the elections for new leaders would go unopposed. The Republic of Uzbekistan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union on August 31, 1991. Although it was not recognized by the United States until December 25, 1992. Uzbekistan is a member of the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Although Glasnost led to many open media discussions of the environment and ethnic issues, the elections held in 1990 were one-sided. The main opposition party was not allowed to stand, therefore leaving many communist candidates to be elected. Islam Karimov was first elected President in 1990 by the Supreme Soviet and later was reelected by a popular vote in 1991.
In 1995 Karimov held a national referendum which would extend his term into the year 2000. He had 99% of the electorates support. Karimov proclaims he is a supporter of Eastern Democracy. He stresses the importance of stability of eastern democracy over its western counterpart. The stability that Karimov suggests many believe is just a ploy for Karimov to use his dictatorship power to cling to the old world status. Karimov is one of the strongest supporters of continued cooperation among the Soviet Republics. Karimov supported the new Union Treaty in spring of 1991 and did not oppose the August 1991 coup in Moscow. Once the coup collapsed Uzbekistan declared independence. Karimov proclaims Uzbekistan is a multiparty system, yet the Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party, the Birlik (Unity) Peoples Movement (BPM) and the Islamic rebirth Party (IRP) have been banned.
Policy makers still remain suspicious of unregulated market mechanisms, although Karimov officially commits to a market-oriented reform. Prices were slowly liberalized and the new trade policies are less harmful toward exports. The import tariffs proposed in 1993 are preferential toward CIS communities and extra low tariffs toward Central Asian countries. It is going to be very difficult for him to explain why many of the neighboring Central Asian countries are becoming richer through liberalization and privatization while Uzbekistan continues to stay stable, but poorer then the other nations. Karimov stresses stability as a reason why Uzbekistan has not seen the high inflation rates characteristic to other CIS communities in transition.
2Karimov gives little mention to human rights. He believes that economic stability is necessary for socio-political stability. In his new book, Along the Road of Deepening Economic Reform, Karimov states, preparation, discussion and adoption of fundamental laws regulating and providing guarantees of human rights and freedoms, rights and freedoms of public organizations and freedom of conscience and religion have been something principally new in practical law making in this country. He also briefly mentions the womens rights and acknowledges their special role as women-mothers and presses for better child care provisions.