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06TASHKENT605 2006-03-28 13:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tashkent
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1. (C) Summary: When the Ambassador, at the invitation of
the MFA, decided to attend a provincial investment roundtable
in Andijon, the GOU quickly canceled the event. A Deputy
Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, several other
government officials and a handful of diplomats were already
participating in the first of three such roundtables
scheduled to take place in the Ferghana Valley. Diplomats
who attended the Ferghana City event believed something was
going on in Andijon that the government did not want them to
see. It is incredible to see just how far the GOU is willing
to go to keep the Ambassador from engaging with Uzbeks in the
regions. The irony of the whole episode, however, is that
canceling the roundtable provided the Ambassador with more
opportunity to engage directly with ordinary Uzbeks. End




2. (C) As part of a larger public strategy to promote
investment, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Trade
and Investment (MFERTI) together with the Uzbek Chamber of
Commerce and Industry has organized a series of roundtables
in all provincial capitals with the aim of attracting foreign
capital. According to MFERTI, the purpose of the seminars is
to showcase successful joint-ventures and potential
investments. The first of the roundtables were to be held
in Ferghana City, Andijon and Namangan March 15 through 17.
Given the GOU's recent attempt to cancel nearly the entire
schedule of the Ambassador during a visit to Bukhara (ref A),
Post decided that the MFA's open invitation to all diplomatic
missions was an opportunity not to be missed. The March 16
discussion provided an officially sanctioned possibility to
interact with regional officials, deputy ministers, and local
businessmen in Andijon. When Post informed the Uzbek Chamber
of Commerce and MFERTI of the Ambassador's interest, both
organizations responded positively, even welcoming his
remarks, if the schedule would allow. However, just before
emboffs departed for the Ferghana Valley, the MFA requested a
dipnote to officially confirm the Ambassador's attendance.



3. (C) By the time emboffs reached Ferghana, the MFA had
sent a new dipnote to many missions postponing the remaining
events in the Valley. According to the dipnote, the GOU
decided to cancel Andijon and Namangan because of the Navruz
holiday and a visit by Kazakhistani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev. Clearly this was a last minute decision, as the
March 15 Ferghana City event, led by a Deputy Minister of
MFERTI had already begun. The handful of diplomats who
participated in Ferghana City, including the Chinese DCM and
diplomats from Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Pakistan, had intended
to visit all three Valley cities. According to the Kyrgyz
Commercial Attache, the MFERTI representative announced that
the afternoon session of the Ferghana roundtable and the two
following day sessions in Andijon and Namangan must be
canceled, as he was called back to Tashkent for an emergency.
However, another government representative said that Andijon
was not prepared for the event, and therefore it had to be
postponed. According to the Kyrgyz representative, the
diplomats were all sure that something must be happening in
Andijon that the government did not want them to see. A
local journalist who attended a dinner discussion with the
Ambassador said she attended the investment seminar as well
and was quite optimistic regarding the effort.



4. (C) Despite the cancellation, the Ambassador traveled on
to Andijon the morning of March 16. At the provincial
governor's office (Hokimiyat), the scheduled venue for the
discussion, a clearly flustered official feigned ignorance at
first, but when presented with a copy of the dipnote

TASHKENT 00000605 002 OF 002

invitation, ran inside to "check" on things. During this
time, the Ambassador was not even allowed inside the
Hokimiyat's front gate, much less in the building itself.
When the government representative returned, he confirmed
that the event was canceled. Clearly the cancellation was a
last minute decision. Even the string of MVD officers lining
the street to the Hokimiyat, likely to escort the VIPs from
Tashkent into town, had not been informed.



5. (C) In a March 24 meeting in Tashkent, Deputy Minister of
Foreign Economic Relations Khasanov, who had himself led the
government delegation in Ferghana City, asked to meet with PE
Chief on a different topic. When she told him that she and
the Ambassador were in Ferghana on the day of the roundtable
and planning to participate in Andijon, he seemed quite
happy. When PE Chief asked why the event had been canceled,
he said that he received a phone call from Tashkent around
lunch time and was ordered to return to the capital. He
stressed, however, that the Andijon event had not been
canceled, merely postponed, and that MFERTI would welcome
Post's participation. He said that the other roundtables
would continue as planned, and hoped we would be able to




6. (C) Comment: It is remarkable that the GOU would go
this far to keep the Ambassador from attending an event in
the regions. In Bukhara, the forced cancellations only
affected the U.S. In this case, however, postponing the
event really hurt no one but the Uzbeks themselves. The very
idea of holding a roundtable to attract foreigners, but then
canceling it when they agree to attend is ludicrous. While
we cannot say with 100 percent certainty that the
Ambassador's planned attendance is what led to the official
postponement of the Andijon and Namangan events, the timing,
multiple "official" excuses, and general nervousness of all
involved spoke volumes. The irony of this whole episode,
however, is that in canceling the official roundtable, the
Ambassador and Embassy delegation had far more time and
opportunities to interact directly with ordinary Uzbeks (ref
B.) Post intends to take Khasanov up on his offer, and
attend other provincial roundtables. We will see how the GOU