"Amerika Ovozi" O'zbek xizmati Vashingtondagi nufuzli siyosatshunoslik markazi bo’lmish “Atlantika Kengashi”ning Yevrosiyo markazi direktori Jon Xyorbst bilan O'zbekistondagi o’zgarishlar va jarayonlar, Prezident Shavkat Mirziyoevning Vashingtonga tashrifi arafasida AQSh-O'zbekiston munosabatlari haqida suhbatlashdi. “Atlantika Kengashi”da ish boshlagunga qadar Jon Xyorbst O'zbekiston va Ukrainada elchi bo’lgan, Davlat departamentida qator mas’ul lavozimlarni egallagan.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Janob elchi, 2000-yillarda O'zbekistonda ishlaganingizda O’zbekiston tashqi ta'sir yoki bosimsiz, ko'cha namoyishlarisiz, rangli yoki zo’ravon inqiloblarsiz o'zgara olishiga ishonganmisiz?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Ha. O'zbekistonda uyushgan, hamfikr siyosiy elita bor. Men buni o’sha yerda ishlagan paytimda his qildim, ko'rdim, ish yuzasidan shu holat bilan to’qnashdim. “O’zbekistonda qudratli yoki salkam qudratli oliy rahbar bor” degan afsonaga G’arbda ishonishardi. Biroq aslida shu payt siyosiy elita orasida murosa shakllanayotgan, siyosiy kuchlar qandaydir bir kelishuvga erishayotgan edi. Agar elita mamlakatdagi qiyinchiliklarni yengish uchun yangicha siyosat talab etilishini tushunsa, mamlakat ana shu yo'nalishda harakatlanadi. Men o’shanda shunday bo’lishini bashorat qilgan edim demoqchi emasman.
So’nggi salkam ikki yilda biz guvoh bo’layotgan ochilishlar davom etadi. Hokimiyat tinch yo'l bilan almashishiga ishonchim komil edi. O'zbek jamiyati qanday ishlashini bilganim uchun ham jarayonlar meni hayron qildi deb aytolmayman. Shubhasiz, tashqi bosim orqali bu ishni amalga oshirish mumkin emas edi.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Markaziy Osiyoda Qirg'iziston demokratiya modeli hisoblanar edi. O'zbekiston hokimiyatni tinch yo'l bilan o’zgartirish bobida namuna bo'la oladimi?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Bunga guvoh bo’ldik. Hokimiyatning tinch yo’l bilan almashganini ko'rdik. To'g'ri, Qirg'izistonni Markaziy Osiyoda salkam demokratik mamlakat deb bilardik. Ammo Qirg'izistonda hokimiyat g’alayonli almashdi. O’ta izdan chiqmadi, lekin g’alayonli bo’ldi. O'zbekistonda esa nima bo’lishini oldindan ko’rsa bo’lardi, jarayon og'riqsiz kechdi. Hokimiyat almashinuvining natijalari, tadbiq etilayotgan siyosatning ijobiy ekanini ko’ryapmiz.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Ammo hukumatdagi, mamlakatdagi ikkinchi raqamli arbobning 15 va undan ortiq yil sadoqat bilan xizmat qilgan sobiq rahbar siyosatini tubdan o’zgartirayotganiga nima deysiz? Axir Mirziyoyevning o’zi 13 yillik bosh vazirligi davrida Karimov siyosatini qattiq targ’ib qilmadimi, jon kuydirib amalga oshirmadimi?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Men siyosatdagi o'zgarishlarga ortiqcha baho bermayman. Bugun O'zbekiston haqida ochiq yoki demokratik jamiyat sifatida gapira olmaymiz. Albatta, muayyan bir ochilishni, ba'zi bir qattiq siyosatning, ayniqsa, inson huquqlari va qamoqxonalar tizimida sezilarli darajada yengilliklarni ko’ryapmiz. Markaziy Osiyo doirasida tashqi siyosatda ham muhim o'zgarishlarni ko'rmoqdamiz. Biroq tashqi siyosatda o'zgarish qilish oson.
O’zbekistonni 2003-yilda elchi sifatida tark etganimdan beri bu mamlakatga faqat bir marta, o'tgan yil noyabrida bordim. Men juda ko'p odamlar bilan suhbatlashib shuni tushundimki, Prezident Mirziyoyev nomi bilan bog’liq o’zgarishlarga ehtiyojni nafaqat uning o’zi, balki jamiyatning yuqori qismidagilar ham tushungan. Demak, bu g'oyalar Prezident Karimov hokimiyatda bo'lgan paytdayoq shakllanayotgan edi.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Siz janob Mirziyoyev bilan uchrashganmisiz?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Men u bilan ancha oldin uchrashganimni eslayman. Ammo Prezident Mirziyoyev bilan uchrashmadim.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Demak, o’tgan yili ko’rishmagansiz?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Yo'q. Men Toshkentda ishlagan davrimda Samarqandda hokim bo'lganida uchratganman deb o’ylayman.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Ayrim odamlar Mirziyoyevning islohotlarga jiddiy kirishganiga ishonmaydi. Haqiqiy islohotlar alomatlari qanday bo’ladi deb o’ylaysiz?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Ba’zi muhim o'zgarishlarni ko’ryapmiz. Hozircha nisbatan kichik hajmda. So’mning erkin konvertatsiyasini ta’minlash haqida gaplar bor. Hayot biroz osonlashgani aniq. Xavfsizlik idoralari tomonidan O'zbekistonda siyosiy, qonuniy siyosiy jamiyatning bir qismi hisoblanmaydigan odamlarga o'tkazilayotgan bosimning pasayishini ko'rdik. Nisbatan kamtarona, ammo haqiqiy o'zgarishlarga guvohmiz. Bu o'zgarishlardan ortga chekinish bo’lmasligi, yana olg’a qadamlar tashlash kerak deb o’ylayman. Masalan, agar so'mning haqiqiy konvertatsiyasi ta’minlansa, bu, menimcha, katta ijobiy o'zgarish bo'ladi. Biroq bunday o’zgarishlarni bir kechada qilib bo’lmaydi, chunki unga qarshi ba’zi kuchlar borligini tan olamiz.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Janob elchi, siz AQShning Markaziy Osiyoga, xususan, O'zbekistonga nisbatan hozirgi siyosatidan mamnunmisiz? Aytganday, hozirgi siyosat nimadan iborat o’zi?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Umuman olganda, Amerika siyosati so’nggi 25 yilda o’zgargani yo’q deb o’ylayman. Birinchidan, biz Markaziy Osiyodagi barcha davlatlar mustaqilligi, suvereniteti va hududiy yaxlitligini qo'llab-quvvatlaymiz. Buni mintaqa barqarorligi uchun muhim deb hisoblaymiz. Agar Markaziy Osiyo beqarorlikka yuz tutsa, oqibatlari juda yomon bo’lishi mumkin, chunki mintaqa Xitoy, Rossiya va Hindiston kabi yirik davlatlar hamda Pokiston va Eron kabi o’rta qudratga ega mamlakatlar bilan chegaradosh. Agar region davlatlari ham siyosiy tomondan, ham iqtisodiy tomondan ochiq bo’lsa, bu shu davlatlar uchun ham yaxshi bo’ladi, bizning mintaqadagi manfaatlarimiz uchun ham. Bizning siyosat mana shundan iborat va eng boshidan shunday bo’lgan.
Albatta, har bir tarixiy davrning o’ziga xos xususiyatlari bor. Men O’zbekistonda elchi bo’lganimda Afg’onistondagi mojaro O’zbekiston va mintaqadagi davlatlar bilan xavfsizlik munosabatlariga katta urg’u berishimizni taqozo etdi va bu juda muhim edi.
O'ylaymanki, bu to'g'ri siyosat. Ba’zan Markaziy Osiyoga yetarlicha e'tibor bermagan paytlar ham bo’lgan va hozir ana shunday davr bo’lishi mumkin. Ammo shuni aytishim kerakki, hozir O'zbekistonga yaxshi e'tibor qaratyapmiz. Shuning uchun bo’lsa kerak, Prezident Mirziyoev shu oyda Vashingtonga kelishi kutilmoqda.
Oq uy ma'muriyati O'zbekiston bilan Afg'oniston bo'yicha hamkorlikdan mamnun. Hukumatimizda Markaziy Osiyo bilan shug’ullanuvchi rasmiylar Toshkentda yuz berayotgan o'zgarishlarni ijobiy baholaydi. Ular Markaziy Osiyoda mintaqaviy hamkorlik uchun haqiqiy o'zgarishga imkon tug’ilganini tan olishadi. Prezident Karimov paytida bu oson bo'lmagan edi.
Bunday hamkorlik Markaziy Osiyo barqarorligi va farovonligi uchun juda yaxshi. So'nggi 25 yildan beri barchani qiynab kelayotgan suv muammolariga balki endi yechim topilar. Tramp ma’muriyati Prezident Mirziyoevning jonli va yangi lider ekanini yaxshi tushunadi va u bilan yaqin aloqa o’rnatishni istaydi, shuning uchun ham Tramp Mirziyoyevni qabul qiladi deb o’ylayman va men buni olqishlayman.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: AQSh Mirziyoyevga islohotlarni tadbiq etishda qanday yordam berishi mumkin?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Birinchidan, AQSh O’zbekiston bilan faolroq hamkorlik qilishi kerak. Qo’shma Shtatlar mintaqada faolroq harakat qilishini O'zbekiston, Qozog'iston va Markaziy Osiyodagi boshqa davlatlardan tashqari qolganlar ham bilishi lozim. Biz O'zbekistondagi islohotlarni rag'batlantirishimiz, lekin qattiq bosim qo’ymasligimiz kerak. O'zbekiston rahbariyati qanday yo’l tutishini o’zi bilishini qabul qilishimiz lozim. O'zbekistonga ochiq bo’lishimiz, u bilan savdoni kuchaytirishga, kattaroq sarmoyalarni olib kirishga boshqalarni rag’batlantirishimiz kerak, biroq buning uchun O’zbekistondagi o'zgarishlar sarmoyadorlar foydasini hisobga olishi zarur. Xorijiy investitsiyalarni o’zboshimcha musodara qilish yoki poraxo’r sudlar yordamida kompaniyalarni olib qo’yish yaramaydi. Shu sabab O'zbekiston ma'lum kafolatlarni o’z bo’yniga olishi kerak. Bu nafaqat O’zbekistonda ishlashni xohlovchi G'arb yoki Amerika kompaniyalari, balki O’zbekistonning o’zi uchun ham foydali bo'ladi. Biz mintaqada, shu jumladan, O'zbekistonda katta va jiddiy manfaatlarga ega ekanligimizni aniq bildirishimiz kerak.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Ma’lumki, Rossiyaning O'zbekistonga ta'siri hali ham katta - odamlar rus tilida so’zlashadi, rus tilidagi veb-saytlarni kuzatishadi, Rossiya telekanallarini tomosha qilishadi. Rossiya hukumati va matbuoti nazarida, AQSh Iroq, Afg'oniston, Suriya va boshqa mamlakatlardagi urushlari ketidan demokratiyani targ’ib qilish huquqini yo’qotdi. Demokratiya qurish tuzumni o'zgartirish, tartibsizlik, iqtisodiy inqiroz degan ma’noni anglatadigan bo’lib qoldi ko’plar uchun va o’zbeklar buni aslo qabul qilmaydi. Sizning fikringizcha, Qo'shma Shtatlar bunday qarashlarni o'zgartirish uchun nima qilishi mumkin?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Bu juda jiddiy muammo. Kreml Rossiyadagi ommaviy axborot vositalari ustidan to'liq nazoratni o’rnatib, bu nazoratdan hamda puxta ishlangan televizion dasturlardan tashviqot va hatto yolg'onlarni tarqatishda foydalanmoqda. Men Markaziy Osiyodagi axborot maydonlarida va butun dunyoda bu borada faolroq bo'lishimizni istardim. Qo'shma Shtatlar, Yevropa va boshqa joylardagi ittifoqchilarimiz Kreml propagandasiga qarshi kurashda ancha faol bo’lishi kerak. Bu borada “Atlantika Kengashi”, men rahbarlik qilayotgan Yevrosiyo markazi ko'p ishlarni amalga oshirmoqda.
Biz Toshkent yoki Samarqandda ushbu mavzuga bag'ishlangan tadbir o'tkazishni istardik. Ammo tan olish kerak, Rossiya matbuoti Markaziy Osiyoda faol ishlaydi, bizdan bu borada ancha ustun ular va shu maqsadda katta pul sarflashga tayyor, biz esa ayni damda bunga tayyor emasmiz. Buning aksi bo’lishini istardim, albatta.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: Siningcha, O’zbekiston ahli kimga ko'proq ishonadi - AQShgami yoki Rossiyaga?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Men O'zbekistonni 15 yil muqaddam tamomila tark etdim. O'tgan yili olti kunga borib keldim. Savolingizga ishonch bilan javob berish uchun yetarli ma'lumotga egaman deb o'ylamayman, ammo Rossiya ommaviy axborot vositalarining O'zbekistondagi faolligini hisobga olib, o’zbekistonliklar AQShga qaraganda Rossiyaga sal ko’proq ishonadi deb o’ylayman. Ammo bunga Rossiya matbuoti tomonidan o’zbekistonliklarga yog’dirilayotgan yolg’on ma’lumotlar sababdir, chunki o’zbekistonliklar ishonchga sazovor jiddiy ma’lumot olish imkoniga ega emas.
Bir muhim narsani alohida ta’kidlab o’tmoqchiman. AQSh xato qilishiga shubha yo’q. Afg’onistonga kirib to’g’ri qilganmiz, ammo ishni yaxshi yo’lga qo’ya olmadik. Iroqqa qarshi urushni o’sha paytda yoqlagan bo’lsam ham unga zarurat yo’q edi, bu katta xato edi. Amerika Qo'shma Shtatlari o'z xatosini tan olishga qodir. Biz O'zbekiston yoki boshqa mamlakatlardagi odamlarga “aybsiz, xatosiz bo’lganimiz uchun bizga ergashing” demaymiz. Bizga ergashing demaymiz ham hatto. Biz ularga “biz bilan ishlang, chunki bizning siyosiy tizimimiz, iqtisodiy hayot tarzimiz sizning hayotingizni yaxshilashda yordam beradi” deymiz. Va shunday bo’lishiga shubha yo'q deb o'ylayman.
Rossiya ommaviy axborot vositalari Amerikadagi muvaffaqiyatsizliklar haqida gapirganda Estoniya, Latviya yoki Litvadagi hayot darajasi haqida gapirmaydi. Bu mamlakatlarda neft bo’lmasa-da, aholisining jon boshiga daromadi ancha yuqoridir. Rossiyaniki esa neft va gazga bog’liq. Ruslar Polsha yoki Bolgariyadagi hayot darajasi haqida gapirmaydi. 30 yil muqaddam O'zbekiston kabi kambag'al bo'lgan bu mamlakatlar endi boy hayot kechirmoqda.
Odil Ruzaliev, “Amerika Ovozi”: O'zbekiston Boltiqbo'yi davlatlariga o'xshashi uchun nima qilishi kerak?
Jon Xyorbst, “Atlantika Kengashi”: Men O'zbekistonning bu yo'nalishda ulkan yutuqlarga erishishiga shubha qilmayman. O’zbekistonda hayot balki Boltiqbo'yi davlatlarichalik farovon bo’lmas, chunki Boltiq davlatlari O’zbekiston kabi dengizga chiqish yo’lidan mahrum emas, ammo bu ham farovonlik yo’lida jiddiy muammo emas. O'zbekistonda olgan tajribam, bu yurt haqidagi bilimlarimga asoslanib shuni aytishim mumkinki, agar hukumat hozirgi islohotlarni izchil, keng va chuqur amalga oshirishda davom etsa, O’zbekistonning farovonlik sari qadam tashlashiga hech shubha qilmayman. Ammo hozirgi islohotlar yetarli emas. Ularni chuqurlashtirish kerak. Agar shu ishlar qilinsa, mamlakat ochilsa, iste’dodli, ortida tarixiy yutuqlari bor xalq farovon bo’ladi.
Buning uchun suhbat boshida men tilga olgan o’zbek elitasi ba’zi qisqa muddatli tuzatishlarni qabul qilishi, ayrim manfaatlardan voz kechishi lozim. Vaqt o'tishi bilan shunday bo’lishiga aminman. Umidim shuki, bu kelasi 20 yilda emas, balki 5-6 yilda bo’lsa. Hozirgi siyosat bu ishlarni 5-6 yilda uddalash imkonini beradi. Ammo fol ochishdan yiroqman.
(intervyuning inglizcha, asl matni)
Interview with former US Ambassador to Uzbekistan John Herbst
“Voice of America” Uzbek Service’s Odil Ruzaliev interviewed John Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center about the developments in Uzbekistan and US-Uzbek relations on the eve of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to Washington. John Herbst also worked in Uzbekistan and Ukraine as ambassador.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: Mr Ambassador, When you worked in Uzbekistan back in 2000s could you imagine that Uzbekistan could transform itself without outside interference or pressure, without street protests, without any color or violent revolutions?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: Yes. There is in Uzbekistan - I felt it, I saw it, I worked with it – a cohesive political elite. And the myth in the West was that you had a supreme leader who was all or nearly all powerful when in fact the politics of Uzbekistan was reaching a kind of consensus or at least a kind of agreement within that elite. So if the elite understands that the challenges in the country require a new course then the country will head in that course. I am not going to say I predicted. We are going to see this opening that we have witnessed now for almost 2 years. But I was confident that there was going to be a peaceful transfer of power. And knowing how Uzbek society works, I can’t say this departure surprised me. Certainly outside pressure was not going to do it.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: In Central Asia Kyrgyzstan used to be a model of democracy. Can Uzbekistan become a model for a peaceful transition of power?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: I think we have already seen it, we’ve seen a peaceful transition of power. It is true that you had to say that in Central Asia the only quasi-democratic country is Kyrgyzstan. But the changes of power in Kyrgyzstan have been unruly. Not awful but unruly. In Uzbekistan it was rather clear and it was without pain and the results in terms of the policies we are seeing are positive.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: But what do you make of the situation in which a number two man in the government, in the country reverses the policies of the previous leader whom he was loyal to 15 plus years and most of the policies he aggressively pursued and promoted and implemented while he was a prime minister for 13 years.
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: Well, I would not overestimate the changes in policy. We can’t talk about Uzbekistan today, for example, as a truly open society or as a democracy. What we are seeing is a certain opening, a certain easing of some hardline policies, especially, in the area of human rights and prisons system. And of course we are seeing important changes in at least foreign policy within Central Asia. Foreign policy changes are easy to do.
But my understanding is – now I have only been to Uzbekistan once since I left as ambassador in 2003 but I was there last November. I had a chance to chat with good many people. And the impression I came away with was that it was not just President Mirziyoyev who understood the need for the openings that are now associated with his name. Others in the top of Uzbek society also understood this. That means that these ideas were fermenting while President Karimov was still in power.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: Have you met Mr Mirziyoyev?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: I remember meeting him a long time ago. I did not meet President Mirziyoyev.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: So you did not meet him last year?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: No. I think I met him when he was a governor in Samarkand during my time in Tashkent.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: Some people still don’t believe that Mirziyoyev is committed to reform. What are the signs, what are the indications of real reform, real commitment?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: Well, we’ve already seen some important changes. But relatively small domestically. There’s talk again about having a freely convertible soum. It is clear that life is getting a little bit easier. We’ve seen an easing of the pressure that the police was putting on the folks who are not considered to be part of political, legitimate political society in Uzbekistan. We’ve seen relatively modest changes, but real. I think we need to see no pullback from the changes that are in place and some steps forward.
I mean, for example, if the soum is truly made freely convertible that will be a major, major, from my standpoint, positive change. But one that cannot be expected over night because there are vested interests that will find that problematic.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: Mr Ambassador, are you satisfied with the current US policy towards Central Asia and in particular towards Uzbekistan. And by the way, what is the policy?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: By and large, I think American policy has been consistent for 25 years. One, we support strongly the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the Central Asian states. We think that is important for stability in the region. And if there is an instability in Central Asia there can be very serious consequences because it is bordered with major powers, like China, Russia, India and some active middle powers like Pakistan and Iran. And then, of course, we also believe the countries are better off and that our interests are served if countries move toward an open society both in terms of political life and economic life. I think that is our policy, I think that’s been consistent throughout.
There are specifics relating to each historic period. So of course when I was there with the war in Afghanistan it was very important for us to have much closer security relationship with Uzbekistan and also with some of the countries in the region and we developed that.
That’s again on balance our policy. I think that’s the right policy. I believe that there are times however - and this may be one of those times - when we don’t pay enough attention to Central Asia. Having said that I am now at least partly qualified, I think we are paying good attention to Uzbekistan. And that’s why it looks like we are going to see President Mirziyoyev here in Washington later this month.
I know that the administration is very pleased with our cooperation with Uzbekistan on Afghanistan. I know that Central Asia watchers in our government appreciate the changes that are taking place in Tashkent. They recognize that there is now a true change for regional cooperation in Central Asia which was not easy to do under President Karimov.
And this cooperation is very good for stability of and prosperity of Central Asia. May be now there can be some progress on water issues which have been very, very difficult for the last 25 years. And I believe that President Mirziyoyev will be seeing President Trump because Washington understands that this is a dynamic and new leader and they want to have a close relationship with him and of course I welcome that.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: How can the United States help Mirziyoyev in his endeavors?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: First, greater engagement. Let just not Uzbekistan, not Kazakhstan and other countries of Central Asia see that the United States is going to be active there. I believe we should encourage reform in Uzbekistan but not with too heavy hand recognizing that the Uzbek leadership will make up its own mind. I think we should be open and encourage greater trade and greater investment as long as with the changes in Uzbekistan that investments can be successful. Foreign investments cannot be arbitrarily expropriated or change hands because of corrupt courts. So there needs to be certain types of guarantees on the Uzbek side which would be good for Uzbekistan, not just Western firms, American firms wanting to invest there. And I think we should make it clear that we do have major, major interests in the region, including Uzbekistan and I believe we do.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: You know Russia still has a large influence on Uzbekistan – people speak Russian, people follow Russian-language websites, people watch Russian television so the Russian government and media narrative is that the United States has lost its credibility to preach or promote democracy after the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, now Syria and elsewhere; democracy building came to mean regime change, chaos, economic collapse which Uzbeks don’t accept. What do you think the United States can do to reverse such a view, such a perspective for Uzbeks?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: This is a very serious problem. The Kremlin has near total control over the Russian media and they use that to spread propaganda and even lies along with some very sophisticated television program. I would like us to be more active in the information space in Central Asia and for that matter around the world, I think the United States should be much more active and our allies in Europe should be much more active, allies elsewhere, in combating Kremlin propaganda. And in fact, we at the Atlantic Council, my center, the Eurasia Center is doing a lot of work in this area.
We’d love to do an event in Tashkent or maybe Samarkand on precisely this subject. So these are the sorts of things that we can do, but ultimately the Russians have an advantage because their media is just present in Central Asia and they're willing to spend the money, which at this point we're not quite willing to spend. Although I'd like to change that.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: Who do you Uzbeks trust more - the United States or Russia?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: I left Uzbekistan full time 15 years ago. I was there for about six days last year. I don't think I have enough information to answer your question with confidence, but given the ubiquity of the Russian media in Uzbekistan I suspect on balance the average Uzbek might have a little bit more trust towards Russia than towards the United States. But that's simply because they are bombarded with all this bad information and they don't have serious information of a more reliable kind.
But there's one point I think it's important to make. There's no question the United States makes mistakes. Our interventions, I would say our intervention in Afghanistan was necessary, but we were not skillful in that intervention. Our intervention in Iraq was unnecessary even though I supported it at the time and it was a great mistake. But the United States is able to admit its errors and we don't say to people in Uzbekistan or people anywhere around the world, follow us because we are infallible. We don't even say follow us, we say work with us because we believe that our style of government, our style of economic life will create a better life for you. And I don't think there's any doubt about that.
I mean the Russian media, when it talks about American failures, does not talk about the standards of living in Estonia or Latvia or Lithuania. These countries have no oil, but they have a far higher per capita income than Russia whose per capita income is only as high as it is because of oil and gas, right? The Russians don't talk about the standards of living in Poland or Bulgaria. These countries which were every bit as poor as Uzbekistan 30 years ago are now wealthy countries.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: So what can Uzbekistan do to become like the countries in the Baltics?
John Herbst, Atlantic Council: I don't have any doubt that Uzbekistan can make extraordinary progress in that direction. I hesitate to say to be as prosperous as the Baltic states for the very simple reason that the Baltic states are not double landlocked and that is a problem, but not in a super bowl problem. I have no doubt based upon my experience in Uzbekistan and what I know about the country that given the talent of the people, the historic achievement of the people, that if the government pursues its current reforms consistently, broadly and deeply…in other words, the reforms right now are relatively modest. They have to become much deeper. If they do that and the country opens up, I don't have any doubt that you'll find yourselves on the way to being a prosperous country.
I don't have any doubt about that, but these things will require some short-term adjustments that cohesive Uzbek elites that I talked about will have to recognize, some of the advantages they have need to be changed. Over time I'm confident that will happen. I just wish it would happen in the next five or six years, not in the next 20. But we're on the path now that it possibly could happen in five or six years, although I'd hesitate to make that prediction.
Odil Ruzaliev, VOA: Thank you for your time, Mr Ambassador.