Espace euro-asiatique


In the current troubled international arena, good news go unnoticed.

Since the media focus on the nuclear proliferation tendencies with the Iran and Northern Korean questions, little attention has been paid to the finalization of the new Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone in Central Asia. 

 On May 6, 2014 at the United Nations headquarters in New York,  the representatives of the «five» nuclear states, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia have unanimously signed  the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone in Central Asia.  Opened for signature at Semipalatinsk the 8th of September 2006, it entered into force the 21th of March 2009[1] before to get full legitimacy with the nuclear States in 2014.

This new nuclear free trade zone is the last one of the former nuclear free zone similar treaties[2].

This event come after years of negotiations since the initiative was put forward by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov at the UN General Assembly in 1993. The final recognition of this nuclear free zone is undoubtely a great success for the Uzbek diplomacy as Uzbekistan has an ultimate interest in stabilizing its geopolitical environment to make succeed its ambitious long term program of  modernization to reach world economic standards (the Uzbek model of modernization). This strategy is a unique mixture of national sovereign policies and inspiration from foreign modernization successes. Uzbekistan also position itself as a model of inspiration for countries aiming at modernization. Careful and wise strategy with the State as the central reformer to achieve World standards in the shortest possible laps of time is particularly adapted as the fluid geopolitical evolutions and demographic challenges on the Eurasian continent require bold and resolved political action.    

This new Nuclear Weapon Free Zone is of particular importance for the stabilization of this strategic region of Eurasian and of world importance as Central Asian States have been until today subjected to geopolitical centrifugal tendencies because of the rivalry of the great world powers for access to minerals and political influence but also between the Central Asian States themselves whose relationship have been subjected to tensions after the dissolution of USSR and their new independent status.

Uzbekistan is surrounded by nuclear states in its geographical proximity like China, Russia, India, Pakistan and the Iranian nuclear dispute. Nuclear proliferation in Central Asia would only add to more security problems and reinforce centrifugal geopolitical tendencies endangering Central Asian, but also Eurasian and de facto World stability.  

With a common border between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, this agreement is welcomed as the priority for Uzbekistan and other Central Asian States is the stability in their Southern flank. With the nuclear proliferation thematic in Central Asia finally resolved, its allows Uzbekistan to focus on the terrorist threats coming from the South but also gives them political credibility to propose solutions for the stabilization of the whole Eurasian continent, as the Uzbek government has always done in the past since its accession to independence. This is of particular importance as the Arab revolutions and its domino effect might affect the stability of Central Asia. Uzbekistan as the pivot of the region is in need of long term visibility and step by step modernization as a key for success instead of violent confrontations leading to civil wars and emergence of violent islamist ideologies like in Libya, Syria and Iraq threatening the religious and ethnic delicate balance.

This treaty is also very important as it is the first treaty involving all Central Asian States and could be a positive start to improve relations between themselves on very sensitive issues like the potential ethnic rivalries in the region, the proliferation of terrorism, and the environmental issue like the water shortages leading to the disappearance of the Aral sea aggravated by the controversial dam projects on the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers in neighbouring countries as the groundwater for Aral Sea originates in the Pamirs and Tian Shan Mountains. This positive development might also contribute to the negotiation of regional cooperative projects supported by the European Union to build new regional cooperation schemes on security and environmental projects.

At world level, the signature of the Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone in Central Asia by the «five» nuclear states, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia, underline that cooperation can overcome distrust between Russia and Western countries and show that a positive agenda based on common interests could replace the negative effects of the Ukrainian crisis. 

This success for Uzbek diplomacy and its Central Asian neighbours should help the European Union Member States to pay more attention to this strategic region affecting European stability as its was acknowledged by the first European Union Strategy for Central Asia formulated in 2007 under the initiative of Germany.

The internal euro crisis within European Union and  the destabilization of  its Southern and Eastern flank make this positive development even more valuable. A renewal of the diplomatic focus in this area would be highly welcomed to contain the security worsening situation in the geographical proximity of the European Union. 

[1] Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan


[2]Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ) (2009).

Treaty of Tlatelolco — Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (1967-1995)

Treaty of Rarotonga — South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty

Treaty of Bangkok — Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (1986).

Treaty of Pelindaba — African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (2009).

-Mongolia's international security and nuclear weapon free status (2001).

-Other areas are also covered by the Seabed treaty, outer space treaty, Moon agreement.




« The development of democracy and multi-party politics in Europe (France, Germany, European Union ) and the historical lessons to be learned for the  Uzbek political system ».

Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, Director of research in Geopolitics, European Institute of International Relations, IERI Brussels, Belgium.

Presentation made as OSCE expert and under request from Legislative Chamber of Uzbekistan Parliament at the International seminar “Strengthening multi-party system and interparty competition is the vital condition for the development of parliamentarism: experience of Uzbekistan”, on 29 April, 2014, Tashkent Uzbekistan.

The different models of democracy in the European Union

First of all democracy developed itself in Europe during a very long historical period and presents today very different political models.

The political regime is a set of rules organizing the political power struggle in a society and must satisfy the aspiration for security, stability and prosperity. Then democracy or any political regime is not an end in itself, but should achieve these objectives.

If we compare models of democracy in Europe, lets focus on France, Germany and the European Union model which is mainly a result of the interaction of the two former ones.  

The French model was influenced by the French Revolution in 1789, and we should never forget that the so called « Restauration » (the revival of the monarchy regime after the fall of Napoleon whose empire made the synthesis between the inheritance between Monarchy and the Republic) marked an important stage in the long development of democracy. In France, the regime calls itself a Republican system based on multipartism but also combined with a strong State and a centralised system. Today, the executive power is in the hand of a strong president. The French president has more power than the Parliament according  to the letter and the spirit of the 5th French Republic constitution (1958) proposed by the general de Gaulle. the election of the president directly from the citizens is followed by the elections of the Parliament in order to have the country ruled by a president, its government and a majority of deputies in the Parliament coming from the same political party in order to be efficient and reflecting a real power change. Multi-party politics during the elections prepares the ruling of a president who is supposed to be above the political parties after the elections, combined with a strong political party dominating the Parliament. Representatives of the losing political parties form the new opposition. The politicians from different political parties stays however usually united in France for international politics, especially defence matters and external operations.

The German political system is very different. Within the federal system, the building of political coalitions at the federal but also the Länder level is the rule. Multi-party politics are much more vivid than in France as even after the elections, different political parties share power within political coalitions. Unlike in France,  German political parties from the ruling coalitions and the opposition parties share usually more or less similar economic goals as there is a strong  convergence on the German economic model, but there is much more controversy for defence and security matters.

These differences come from history and geography, as France developed itself since the middle-age as a centralized Nation–State in expansion acquiring quite early relative stable borders (ideology of natural borders, French Revolution), when Germany developed itself later as a Nation-State, and experienced successive changing political regimes after great territorial restructuration of the emerging German nation experiencing a smaller territory through unification. The Bismarck unification in 1871 was based on the model of « Klein Deutschland (small Germany) » after the disappearance of the Holy Roman Empire (dissolved by Napoleon) and the war with Austria in 1866. Then democracy  developed itself during the Weimar Republic (1920s) after the defeat of First World War but could not survive as people didn’t identified themselves with a new regime which came in power after a military defeat and a loss of territory. German democracy had developed itself during the Cold War before a new unification in 1990, as a result of a long stable historical period. A period of stability was then needed to develop German democracy and this factor is more important than a so-called earlier (or “inferior” from the ideological point of view) historical stage of German history compared to Western World in XIXth century. This theory was developed by Dieter LANGEWIESCHE[1] and contradicts the theory of the German « Sonderweg » (particular historical path of Germany), based on the ideological paradigma classifying deviant political systems compared to a Universal Western model exemplified by the USA, UK and France as inappropriate and inferior.    

France is a territorial Nation and for its survival, unity prevailed on diversity. Then, executive power was made stronger than multi-party politics. Germany is a cultural Nation and diversity didn’t put in danger the German Nation, then multi-party politics is more central to the German democracy.

 The influence on the European model of democracy

The evolving institutional model of the European Union reflects these two different national models : the French governments are in favour of a stronger executive power based on the European Council with the European Commission as a secretariat, when German governments were in favour of a stronger European Parliament choosing the president of the European  Commission supposed to be a  proto-European government and  reflecting the result of the European elections based on national elections followed by the formation of European wide political parties.  We are here faced with two different models: Parliament democracy versus executive/presidential democracy. These features are a result of the different historical models  but also  different political interests : German government would have more power with a strong  European Parliament (they have more MEPs than France as a result of Demography) and French government would have more power at the European Council where the intergovernmental negotiations gives more power to executive powers.  The French favour also efficiency when the Germans favour debate for political decisions.

Then others factors are very important for the nomination of European Union political positions after the European elections (European Commission president, European Parliament president, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission). The electoral results based on multi-party politics are not the only factors taken into account for the distribution of power: territorial and national representation (balance between Southern, Northern, Western and Eastern European political personnel), gender balance. 

The lessons to be learned:

– It is a necessity for each country to develop its own model – The process can takes several centuries 

-Legitimation is important and therefore a political system must reflect the historical roots and the geographical factors of the country.  Traditional factors are of different importance around the world and more important in non-Western countries.  

-A good balance between multi-party politics for the political debate and an executive power above party-politics to achieve efficiency is important: each country has to find the right balance needed according to its national challenges, historical roots and geographical features.


The specific interests of Uzbekistan and its strategy in the process of globalization

The development of multi-party politics for the emergence of parliamentary democracy is important for the sustainability of the modernization of Uzbek democracy 

It is however a necessity that the construction of a stable democracy integrating the different ethnic, territorial and religious components of the new Nation-State must be elaborated by the Uzbek citizens and governments themselves. It is also a slow process and the « step by step » approach is a necessity in order to legitimize the Uzbek model of democracy towards its citizens.  A Western model of democracy cannot be imported without adaptation.

Each country has its own right to develop its own model. The Western political regimes usually consider themselves as universal models, but are very different when we compare them. Uzbek democracy will never be completely similar for example to the German democracy as it is itself very different from French or British democracy.

The choice to build a strong Nation-State rooted on strong national identity is an asset in the context of globalization and the rapid change. Globalisation is also a competition between different rival models of political regimes, and importing theoretical models from other countries and civilizations can weaken a young country and deligitimize the whole process.

The need for a strong Uzbek State

The need for stability in a multipolar world characterized by intensified geopolitical rivalry is the main factor to taken into account when elaborating a political regime. Uzbekistan is in a delicate phase of  Nation State building and confronted with a dangerous geopolitical environment. Stability and security are the main objectives for the country and a precondition for prosperity.

The necessity for a strong State and the preservation of its strategic role are fundamental to master the political system adapted to the specific national needs.   

As a very young sovereign country, Uzbekistan has a special interest in developing a legitimate political system for future national wealth and internal resilience. A strong education system is complementary to a democracy based on multi-party politics as imbalanced level of education on the national territory is problematic for the development of democratic society and an even development of the Country.  

Uzbek political actors are also wise to apply a “step by step” approach, compare different models, and propose their own democratic model in the context of rapid change. Globalization creates many opportunities, but also imbalances resulting in changing the former balance of power. Democratization policy is not independent from global geopolitical processes and the “step by step” approach could help to develop an Uzbek model of political, educational and economic policies, instead of choosing, like some countries did in a detrimental way, the simple import of foreign models. A policy of “wait and see” and comparison of successes and failures in the World is a strategic approach for the Uzbek authorities.  Because of its geographical location and historical background, an Uzbek model for democratization would be adapted to its special needs.   


The focus of the Uzbek government on building its multi-party political system is complementary to its Uzbek model. By building its own democratic model,   this objective becomes a strategic policy to transform the country and demonstrate a resolute political will to find a right place for Uzbekistan among Nations in a multipolar world.

The Uzbek policy of multi-party development, in coherence with the “Uzbek model of modernization”, shows the willingness of the government to find its own way of reforming. Inspired by different political models in the World and importing the best practices suited to the country needs, it is building its specific model. The State is therefore a central actor to build and implement its strategy of democratization.

There is a very important process to modernize the country and prepare a new generation of well educated citizens in a more and more competitive world for the following reasons:

-the difficult geopolitical environment the Uzbek government is faced with an obligation  the to put stability and security as a priority for the formation of its political regime.

-The Uzbek demography is the most important asset for the future of the country and its citizens should master their own future

-Its central geographical position in Central Asia, at the intersection of many influences, requires reinforcing the cohesion of the Nation, but it is also an opportunity to cooperate with other countries on democratization policies 

-The democratization process should be in symbiosis with the goal of reinforcing the new Nation-State, promoting its independence and prepares its resilience.  Humanity values, patriotism, and national traditions are in Uzbekistan an integral part of the objectives of a specific political system    

-The objective to reach world class levels is a historic legacy of the very ancient  scientific traditions of the country.  

 -Competitiveness in a globalized world requires the development of a stable and legitimate political system.

 We wish then every success to the ambitious reforms of the Uzbek political system.

Then hopefully, the way Uzbekistan masters its own modernization could also be a model of inspiration for the world.

                                                           Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, 29 April 2014.      


[1] Dieter LANGEWIESCHE, Reich, Nation, Föderation, Deutschland und Europa, Verlag, C.H.Beck, 2008, 332 p.