2004 04 23
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
April 23, 2004
Uzbekistan Rescinds Open Society Registration
The United States is disappointed that the Government of Uzbekistan decided last week not to renew the registration of the Open Society Institute (OSI), a non-governmental organization active in democratization programs, to continue U.S.-funded and other work in Uzbekistan. The Open Society Institute receives funding from the United States and has spent close to $22 million in Uzbekistan in order to help build a vibrant civil society.
This jeopardizes valuable assistance programs a $16.7 million Drug Demand Reduction Program and a $12 million Basic Education program.
In the 2002 Strategic Partnership Framework, the Governments of Uzbekistan and the United States pledged to work together to strengthen democratic institutions in Uzbekistan. The work of OSI in Uzbekistan supports these goals.
That’s a start, but if it stays talk it doesn’t count for much. Regimes like Uzbekistan’s know that foreign donors have to squawk a bit when they do something awful. The only thing they care about is what the foreign donors actually do. The fact that the regime felt comfortable enough to kick out the OSI suggests that they are gambling on the U.S. doing little more than squawk. The fact the U.S. is putting out a statement rather than taking firmer measures suggests that it had either failed to issue a timely warning about consequences, or had already decided that it would hold the line at squawking.