Thirty years of Uzbekistan’s international relations: Quo Vadis?

What has changed in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy outlook and what are the biggest challenges in its international relations? Dr Farkhod Tolipov discusses these and related questions in the policy brief. The paper is available to download in English and Russian


Uzbekistan became independent at a time when the Cold War era was over, and the “new world order” was in the making. The international community, great powers re-discovered Central Asia with its unique peculiarities and a centre of erstwhile Great Silk Road. Much has changed, however, in the past thirty years, and much has been written on the dynamics of great power rivalry in the region. Less is known about how things evolved within the countries of Central Asia.

This paper aims to contribute to understanding Uzbekistan’s international relations by looking at thirty years of its engagement with the world and paying particular attention to the changes that we have seen in the past several years. In particular, the paper looks at departures in conceptual as well as practical levels between international relations of the former president, Islam Karimov, and the new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Karimov’s period can be described as “Uzbekistan-1.0” and Mirziyoev’s as “Uzbekistan-2.0”.

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Farkhod Tolipov, PhD, is a director at Bilim Karvoni (“Caravan of Knowledge”), a non-governmental research institution in Tashkent. Dr Tolipov graduated from Tashkent State University. In 1994-2005 he had taught at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent, and in 2005-2010 – at the National University of Uzbekistan. Dr Tolipov served as a chief consultant for the office of the President of Uzbekistan in 1998-2002. He holds a PhD degree in Political Science the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent. Dr Tolipov’s research interests lie in geopolitics, regional security and regional integration in Central Asia, nationalism and democratization in Central Asian countries.

The policy paper is produced as part of a project “Debating International Relations in Central Asia: Regional Developments and Extra-Regional Actors”. The project is led by Shairbek Dzhuraev and Eric McGlinchey with support of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Crossroads Central Asia and/or the Hollings Center for International Dialogue.

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