As an Uzbek national I often encounter questions regarding the current situation, and regional and international significance of Uzbekistan. Precious little information and knowledge is readily available, and many people seem to confuse other regional conflicts, for example in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan or Pakistan with the current state of affairs in Uzbekistan. However, understanding the regional and international role of Uzbekistan may be interesting and significant for those seeking to advance their regional (Central Asian) political geography. This brief commentary aims to orientate readers to the growing regional and international significance of Uzbekistan and answers why Uzbekistan increasingly attracts the attention of many international actors. To fulfil this aim, it is necessary to reflect on the historical imperatives of the Uzbek state, which provides important clues for explaining the current political regime and the larger socio-economic context.
Uzbekistan is a multinational and multiethnic political entity. It contains more significant and diverse numbers of minority populations than any other Central Asian state. This sociological diversity is the result of a history defined by a combination of mass population exoduses and the geographic location of Uzbekistan which is situated inland, bordering four other Central Asian Former Soviet Republics, (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan) and Afghanistan. This location has been both a curse and a blessing for the post-Cold War development of Uzbekistan. With a population approaching 27 million, wedged in the centre of Central Asia adds clout to Uzbekistan. Changes to the political and economic structure or focus of Uzbekistan have the potential to widely affect the entire region.
A current trend in international relations is to focus on the political and economic stability and potential of developing states. As such a developing state, Uzbekistan attracts wide interest. This focus is based on several factors including, history and geography which are broken into some sub-themes such as ethno-territoriality, geo-culture and linguistic and independence movements.