, Volume 93, Number 2

Bernardo Teles Fazendeiro
President Islam Karimov’s death provides an opportunity to gauge the origins and consequences of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy. This article is aimed at contributing to that on-going conversation. To do so, it assesses the nature of Uzbekistani foreign policy, which the author categorizes as a type of defensive self-reliance, and to what extent the latter conditioned the government of Uzbekistan’s international engagement. The author describes the main features of self-reliance and argues that the pursuit thereof led to five key trends: the relentless concern with international equality; a focus on bilateral relations; an aggressive defence of Uzbekistan’s image; a drive for self-sufficiency; and a reluctance to embrace expansionist ideological agendas. To make his argument, the author begins by conceptualizing and distinguishing between ‘defensive’ and ‘offensive’ manifestations of self-reliance. He then traces the patterns of Uzbekistani self-reliance and concludes with a brief assessment of potential consequences were the foreign policy to change in the near future. The conclusion suggests that a shift from defensive to offensive self-reliance may constitute a problematic change to Uzbekistani foreign policy, but that relaxing any other of those trends may help open up the republic and the region of post-Soviet central Asia as a whole.

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