October 17-October 24, 1998
  1. Turkmen and Uzbek Presidents urge stability in Afghanistan

  2. New Ambassador to Ukraine appointed

  3. New Ambassador to Russia appointed

  4. Uzbekistan cotton harvest 2.7 mln. tons

  5. First Deputy Chairman of Tax Committee fired

  6. Egypt eyes virgin markets in Central Asia

  7. Crimean Tatars to swap Uzbek for Ukraine passports

  Turkmen and Uzbek Presidents urge stability in Afghanistan
  The presidents of the central Asian republics of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have expressed their concern over the situation in neighboring Afghanistan. In a communique issued at the end of their talks that stretched till midnight Friday, Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said peace and stability in Afghanistan should be restored as soon as possible in the interests of the Afghan people and regional security. The two presidents expressed their support for United Nations General-Secretary Kofi Annan's efforts in search of a peaceful settlement to the Afghan conflict. Karimov, before leaving Ashgabat for Tashkent early Saturday, said he and Niyazov had agreed on all the issues of the agenda for their summit, held in Niyazov's residence outside Ashgabat, the Interfax news agency reported. The agenda of the talks was not disclosed, but Interfax said Niyazov and Karimov agreed to step up bilateral cooperation in the struggle against drug trafficking, international terrorism, extremism and illegal shipments of arms. The two presidents said that they had given the necessary instructions to their governments for implementation of the cooperation.
  New Ambassador to Ukraine appointed
  Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Russia Shomansur Shohalilov has been released from his position and been appointed Ambassador to Ukraine.
  New Ambassador to Russia appointed
  President Karimov gave Shoqosim Shoislomov a diplomatic rank and appointed him Uzbekistan's Ambassador to Russia.
  Uzbekistan cotton harvest 2.7 mln. tons
  Uzbekistan has so far harvested 2.69 million tonnes of raw cotton, or 67.4 percent of the official plan of four million tonnes, a government official told Reuters on Wednesday. The official from the macro-economics and statistics ministry said the ex-Soviet republic had gathered 3.22 million tonnes in the same period last year. He said the harvest was lagging due to a wet and cold spring this year and heavy rains in early October. Cotton was sown on 1.53 million hectares this year, compared with 1.50 hectares in 1997. But bad weather meant that 200,000 hectares had to be resown in early summer. The government set a target of four million tonnes of raw cotton this year, but many analysts see this as unrealistic. The largely agricultural Central Asian state of 24 million people gathered 3.70 million tonnes last year. The most successful season was in 1995, when Uzbekistan harvested 3.93 million tonnes of cotton. The harvesting campaign, which started in late August, is expected to be over by November. Exports of cotton fibre remain vital for Uzbekistan. Last year the country produced 1.08 million tonnes of cotton fibre and exported 978,900 tonnes worth $1.58 billion, or 36 percent of national export revenues.
  First Vice-Chairman of Tax Committee fired
  President Islam Karimov with his decree from October 21 fired First Deputy Chairman of the Tax Committee of Uzbekistan Murodulla Kurolov for immodesty and vanity, extravagance and pomposity when having a family wedding, disregard to national traditions and for disreputing and misusing his government position and tasked the Procurator's office to investigate his case.
  Egypt eyes virgin markets in Central Asia
  Egypt, keen to generate more export revenue, is aiming to build on its historic ties with Central Asian countries to access their promising markets. Government officials and private sector executives from Egypt and six Central Asian countries gathered on Wednesday to discuss ways to build trade balance between the two regions. "Your region has become one of the most important regions which Egypt follows closely," Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said at the opening of the first such conference held in Cairo. Egypt's reasons for enhancing relation with the six states were "really topped by economic and trade interests, but also built on a firm base of common culture and values," Moussa told the delegates. "On the way towards strengthening our bilateral relations, this conference is an important and positive step to...overcome difficulties and obstacles and go beyond all limits for a bounce in trade exchange and economic cooperation," Moussa said. The six countries, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, which won independence from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, are predominantly Moslem. They were part of the Islamic empire in the Middle Ages and produced many scholars renowned in Islamic history. Trade exchange figures between Egypt and each of them were not available but officials indicated they were very low. Uzbek diplomat Muzaffar Ahmadganov said trade exchange between his country and Egypt was hardly existing. "It does not exceed $1 million and may be much less than that," he told Reuters. He added that several agreements aimed at facilitating trade and investment between Egypt and each of the six countries would be signed during a visit by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to these states in the next three months. An Egyptian businessman said potentials for cooperation with the Central Asian states were slim due to the financial crisis in Russia, but added that Egypt should benefit from what he saw as their recent stability. In his speech, Moussa suggested joint ventures in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, oil, food stuffs and ready-made clothes, which "will act as an incentive for other sectors in the future."
  Crimean Tatars to swap Uzbek for Ukraine passports
  Officials in Ukraine's autonomous Crimea region said on Tuesday they had launched a programme to ease naturalisation of thousands of Tatar World War Two deportees who have returned. But only about 800 of the almost 62,000 Tatars living on the Crimean peninsula who are citizens of Uzbekistan turned up to collect the forms required to change their citizenship under the simpler rules, officials said. "On October 19, we accepted the first documents from citizens who arrived from Uzbekistan," Nadezhda Poyarkova, head of Crimea's department of visas and registration, told a news conference. "We expected greater activity," she said. Violent Tatar protests rocked the region in the run-up to parliamentary elections in March, in which many repatriated Tatars were not allowed to vote. About one third of Crimea's Tatar population are technically foreigners, testimony to the political and demographic upheavals caused by the Soviet regime and its collapse in 1991. The Tatars ruled the Crimea before Russian occupation in the 18th century. But they were accused of collaboration with German troops in World War Two and deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. About 250,000 have now returned to Crimea, but as citizens of former Soviet states which declared sovereignty in 1991 or without any citizenship at all. March's violence provided added impetus to talks between Ukraine and Uzbekistan, formerly home to the largest number of deported Tatars, on simplifying the process of changing citizenship. A deal was clinched in August and hailed by Tatar leaders, who nevertheless say the new programme took too long to work out. They say many people may not complete the process by the deadline at the end of next year. Tatar leaders have called for similar simplified processes to be worked out with other countries where Tatars went to live.

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