September 19-September 26, 1998
 
 
  1. President Karimov meets World Bank Vice-President

  2. OSCE Secretary General in Tashkent

  3. Deputy Prime Minister for oil and gas released

  4. U.S. academic programs for 1999-2000

  5. The Swiss to help Uzbeks overcome hepatitis

  6. Chirchik to host military exercises

  7. Tashkent to host symphonic music festival

  8. 122-year-old Uzbek woman wants to live more

  9. President meets with new ambassadors

  10. New information agency founded in Tashkent

  11. Uzbek cotton culture to continue for now

  12. Uzbekistan loses to Australia in Davis Cup

  13. Uzbek and Russian Airlines companies to cooperate

 
  President Karimov meets World Bank Vice-President
  President Islam Karimov met with Vice President of the World Bank Johannes Lynn on Monday. He thanked Mr. Lynn for the Bank's support for the accomplishment of economic and ecological projects. Uzbekistan joined the World Bank in 1992. Eversince Uzbekistan has received credits worth of 322 million dollars and hopes to receive 313 million dollars more within the next three years. The World Bank on Wednesday said it approved a $30 million loan to Uzbekistan to finance health projects in rural regions. The loan will be accompanied by state funds of $39.7 million, taking the total cost of the project to nearly $70 million. Three pilot schemes will be established in the Fergana, Navoi and Syrdarya regions. More than 60 percent of the Uzbek population of 24 million live in rural areas. The bulk of the total project finance will go towards building new medical centres and improving existing facilities. The World Bank said its loan was for 20 years with a five year grace period.
 
  OSCE Secretary General in Tashkent
  An OSCE seminar entitled "Regional Environmental Problems and Co-operative Approaches to Solving Them" was held this week in Tashkent. The OSCE Secretary General Giancarlo Aragon's participation in the conference gave it a high importance. Mr. Aragon met with President Karimov on Tuesday. The President said that he hoped that Giancarlo Aragon's visit would accelerate the resolution of ecological problems and in particular the Aral crisis. This was Mr. Aragon's second visit to Uzbekistan. Solving problems caused by the drying and dying Aral Sea was the main topic of the conference. "If no measures to save the Aral Sea are taken, its area will decrease greatly and it may disappear by the year 2015", conference participants raised a concern in their speeches. The shrinking of the sea may also lead to large-scale migration involving around 10 million people both from Uzbekistan and Kazakstan who share the Aral Sea. The roots of the region's worst ecological disaster lie in the 60s, when the Soviet leadership decided to boost cotton output in its Central Asian republics and ordered vast amounts of water to be drawn from the mighty Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers to irrigate the crops. The rivers feed the Aral Sea.
 
  Deputy Prime Minister for oil and gas released
  President Islam Karimov released Kayum Hakkulov from his position of Deputy Prime-Minister and Chairman of the National Oil and Gas Corporation due to his health problems. He had an open heart surgery. Ibrat Zaynutdinov has been appointed a new chairman.
 
  U.S. academic programs for 1999-2000
  The U.S. Information Service in Tashkent held a news conference announcing new educational programs for 1999-2000 academic year. This year seven programs were announced five of them will be administered by ACCELS and are intended for high-school students, teachers of English, under-graduates, graduates and scholars from Uzbekistan to study in the U.S. universities and conduct researches. One program, Freedom Support Act Fellowships in Contemporary Issues, will be administered by IREX for scholars, journalists, politicians, government officers, judges and others and will give them a chance to conduct researches in the United States. The Fullbright scholarship will be administered by the United States Information Service and is intended for scholars in various fields to deepen their knowledge and do their own research in America. All the programs are sponsored by the United States Information Agency.
 
  The Swiss to help Uzbeks overcome hepatitis
  An agreement signed between the Uzbek Ministry of Health and the Swiss Ministry for Extraordinary Situations in early September showed the determination of Switzerland to help Uzbekistan overcome epidemy of hepatitis. The Swiss Ministry has allocated 300 million dollars for a two-year project. Seminars to train Uzbek doctors are the beginning of the project and have already begun in Tashkent. Swiss experts will teach the Swiss model and methods of fighting hepatitis. Next week such a seminar will be held in Andijan. Hepatitis A and B are the most common types of the disease for Uzbekistan.
 
  Chirchik to host military exercises
  Uzbek Army troops participated in military exercises conducted in the spirit of NATO's Partnership for Peace program in Chirchik, 80-kilometers to the east of Uzbek capital city Tashkent and in the Kyrgyz town of Osh. Centrazbat exercises were first held in 1997 in the territories of Uzbekistan and neighboring Kazakstan and involved troops from the United States, Russia, Turkey, Georgia, the Baltics states and the Centrazbat. Centrazbat is the abbreviation for the Central Asian battalion formed by Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan in December of 1995 as a peace-keeping unit under the U.N. aegis to provide peace and stability in Central Asia. The creation of the battalion also secures the three founder-states from the deployment of other U.N. peace-keeping forces in their territories in case of military operations. This year the same countries delegated their troops with the only exception that Azerbaijan replaced the Baltic states. In Chirchik 700 soldiers practiced their skills in rendering peace-keeping and humanitarian aid and in Osh they put those skills to the test in a field training exercise. 250 U.S. soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain division under the direction of the U.S. Atlantic Command took part in the exercises that were conducted to foster regional cooperation, to demonstrate the United States's growing cooperative relationship with the Central Asian republics and to introduce partner participants to NATO doctrine. Total expenses for the exercises were five million dollars mostly covered by NATO. Uzbekistan's military relations with the United States and particularly with NATO are becoming stronger and stronger. Centrazbat is not the only NATO-sponsored program Uzbek military personnel has participated. There have been a number of exchange programs in the past with Uzbek officers visiting the United States for training and NATO officers giving lectures at Uzbek military institutions. NATO Secretary General Javier Solana's visit to Uzbekistan in the end of October will show NATO's further support of Uzbekistan's participation in the Partnership for Peace program.
 
  Tashkent hosted symphonic music festival
  The International Festival of Symphonic Music was for the first time held in Tashkent. Music of the world's best composers sounded at the Tashkent Conservatory's Hall by musicians from 26 countries, namely from the United States, France, Japan, South Korea and others. Uzbek team of classics was represented by the State Symphonic Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of the Uzbek TV and Radio Company, the Chamber Orchestra of the Uzbek Folk Instruments and a couple of more. The audience had a chance to enjoy various works played by winners of international music festivals as well as young musicians. One of the main purpose of the festival was the propaganda and introduction of Uzbek Symphonic Music to the world.
 
  122-year-old Uzbek woman wants to live more
  There are some people in Uzbekistan who can also claim a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records. A 122-years-old woman from Jizak is one of them. Lutfiya Shodieva is the mother of six children. She also has 15 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren. She is the oldest resident of Uzbekistan. According to the statistics from the Ministry of Social Security, there are 677 100-years-old people in our country and 413 more people who are over this age. Despite her old age, Lutfiya Shodieva feels great and is determined to live more.
 
  President meets with new ambassadors
  Yesterday President Karimov met with United Nation's new permanent representative to Uzbekistan Pavel Kral. Both sides spoke about propects of the relationship between Uzbekistan and the United Nations and the ongoing session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The first U.N. Ambassador to Uzbekistan was Haleed Malik who served in the country a little more than five years. President Karimov also met with three Ambassadors-Designate who handed in their credentials to President Karimov. These are Muhsin Ali Khan of People's Republic of Bangladesh, Birger Dan Nilsen of the Kingdom of Denmark and Platon Kiriakidis of the Republic of Cyprus.
 
  New information agency founded in Tashkent
  Yesterday a first non-government news agency came to existence. The Media Democratization Fund, the National Bank, the Uzbek Tourism Company, Uzbek National Television, two independent TV stations and a dozens of newspapers founded "Turkistan-Press" Non-Government Information Agency.
 
  Uzbek cotton culture to continue for now
  Uzbekistan's plans to move away from the Soviet-era cotton economy will take years to succeed, analysts said. For the state, cotton remains a vital hard currency earner and powerful forces are keen to maintain the status quo. The Central Asian state's unhealthy reliance on the raw material is recognised by the government of strongman President Islam Karimov, and the official statistics explain why. Cotton last year accounted for 36 percent of export earnings, and agriculture, dominated by the cotton industry, was by far the largest sector of the economy, making up over one quarter of gross domestic product. Around 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and 40 percent of the workforce makes its living off the land. Wages are pitifully low, with the monthly nominal wage in the agricultural sector just 2,062 sums in the second quarter of 1998. At the official exchange rate, this is worth $20. At the more realistic black market rate, it is worth $10. The secretive state of 24 million people has already started to replace land sown to cotton with grain crops as part of its economic self-sufficiency programme, which aims to reduce and eventually eradicate expensive grains imports. "The share of cotton in exports will certainly diminish as there are no plans to increase cotton output significantly," Jarmo Eronen, resident analyst for the Tacis programme's Uzbek Economic Trends (UET) project told Reuters. UET data for the first half of 1998 show cotton fibre exports accounted for only 21.1 percent of total export revenues, well down on normal levels. But economists are not reading too much into the drop, attributing it to the timing of deliveries. Uzbekistan has set a state production target of 4.0 million tonnes in recent years. It nearly matched the level in 1994 and 1995, fell well short during the disastrous 1996 campaign and recovered to produce 3.7 million tonnes last year. The Agriculture Ministry has forecast a bumper 4.2 million tonnes harvest this year, although independent analysts based in the capital Tashkent are sceptical. "This year the plan is 4.0 million tonnes, but we are not expecting Uzbekistan to reach this," said one. Independent estimates pivot around 3.75 million tonnes of raw cotton, although weather during the harvest this month and next will have a major impact on the final outcome. The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture cotton report dated August pegged Uzbek 1998/99 cotton fibre production at 1.089 million tonnes, down on its 1997/98 estimate of 1.154 million. It pegged 1998/99 exports at 893,000 tonnes, seven percent below the previous season but still making Uzbekistan the world's second largest exporter after the United States. The government, which has a monopoly on cotton sales abroad, raised $1.58 billion for state coffers from last year's exports, and the favourable terms at which it buys and sells the vital commodity means it will not want to lose its grip soon. "The government is unlikely to give up its monopoly on the cotton industry for at least another three to four years," the analyst said. Domestic cotton prices are based on the official exchange rate, currently 105 to the U.S. dollar. The bazaar rate, which dictates prices in the shops, is more than double at 230. Because cotton is sold on for hard currency, the state enjoys a huge mark-up in the process. A second factor dictating exports in the long term will be domestic consumption, currently under 200,000 tonnes of cotton fibre. The local textile industry is growing, but again any change will be slow. "This figure (Uzbek consumption) will alter as the local textile industry develops, but we are talking about five years," said a specialist.
 
  Uzbekistan loses to Australia in Davis Cup
  Australia whitewashed Uzbekistan 5-0 in the Davis Cup World Group tennis qualifier in Townsville, Australia, on Sunday after Patrick Rafter and Jason Stoltenberg won their reverse singles. Australia, with their victory already secured on Saturday by leading 3-0, let Rafter crush Dmitri Tomashevich 6-2, 6-4 and Stoltenberg sweep past Oleg Ogorodov, 6-3, 6-3 in the meaningless reverse singles. In Friday's opening singles rubbers, Rafter beat Ogorodov 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 and Stoltenberg overcame Vadim Kutsenko 7-5, 6-1, 6-0. On Saturday, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde anchored Australia's triumph with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4) win over Ogorodov and Tomashevich. The victory means that Australia has kept their berth in next year's elite World Group competition.
 
  Uzbek and Russian airlines to cooperate
  Director-General of "Aeroflot-Russian International Airlines" Valery Okulov and General Manager of the "Uzbek Airways" Arslan Ruzmetov confirmed at a news conference preparedness for cooperation no matter what. The news conference was devoted to the signing by two air companies of agreements on cooperation, which considerably expand possibilities of both carriers during the flights to Europe and Asia. Ruzmetov told reporters: "We have much common with Aeroflot, all of us came from Aeroflot." The agreements envisage routes of common use during the flights from Moscow to Tashkent, Samarkand, Urgench and Bukhara, as well as cargo airlifting along the route New Delhi-Tashkent-Moscow.

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