|07TASHKENT2012||2007-11-23 08:49:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Tashkent|
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1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador met with the National
Democracy Institute (NDI) Senior Program Director for Eurasia
and Country Director on November 13. The Country Director is
quietly consulting with four opposition parties, two of which
have potential for developing into proper political parties
-- the Ozod Dekhon (Free Farmers) Party and the Agrarian
Movement. NDI proposed working with these groups "to create
brand recognition" and develop strategies to help them
develop "down the road." The Senior Program Director said
that well-known Uzbek opposition parties Birlik and Erk are
"spent forces" which are too prone to infighting and have
lost much of their support base after years in exile. The
Country Director reported that due to years of NDI building
connections and visibility in Uzbekistan, it has not
encountered the same difficulties as NDI has in Tajikistan.
"Not in the Revolution Business"
2. (C) The Ambassador met on November 13 with AmCit NDI
Senior Program Director for Eurasia, and AmCit NDI Country
Director. NDI is one of the few international NGOs still
operating in Uzbekistan, and the Country Director attributed
this to the organization's efforts to demonstrate its
long-term focus on building a democratic process rather than
seeking dramatic political changes that worry the GOU. The
Tashkent NDI office has not encountered any of the problems
reported in Tajikistan. However, the Country Director added
that from his perspective, "sanctions by the U.S. would make
it difficult to accomplish anything with this regime."
Two Budding Parties Have Promise...
3. (C) The NDI Country Director said he is currently quietly
consulting with four opposition political parties, of which
he feels only two have any potential to develop into
meaningful organizations -- Ozod Dekhonlar (Free Farmers)
Party and the Agrarian Movement. NDI would like to expand
its efforts with these parties "to create brand recognition"
among the populace. In particular, the idea is to help these
parties build favor among Uzbek migrant laborers and their
families by offering domestic support services such as
warehouses (to help people store belongings) and establishing
liaison offices. (Note: Ambassador strongly discouraged NDI
representatives from establishing anything that could be
construed as offshore opposition to the regime, to which they
agreed. End note.)
But Not Birlik and Erk
4. (C) The NDI representatives noted that too many western
governments and observers look to well-known leaders of
Birlik and Erk as the sole leaders of the Uzbek opposition.
The NDI Senior Program Director for Eurasia said these two
groups "are spent forces" which have lost a significant
amount of their support base in Uzbekistan as a result of
years of infighting and a perceived disconnect with current
conditions in the country due to their prolonged absence.
The NDI Country Director added that opposition parties "need
to stop the constant infighting to be taken seriously in the
west," which he noted does not seem likely. Rather, the
focus should be on "making a home for reformers with rational
5. (C) NDI enjoys a unique level of access to Uzbek officials
and opposition parties, and its observations offer useful
perspectives. NDI has sometimes been criticized for not
challenging the GOU enough, but it conducts regular civil
society conferences that bring in outside speakers to present
alternate points of view. These are unique platforms in the
Uzbek context and deserve continued support.