Distinguished Heads of State!
Let me greet you and express my gratitude to the Russian side, President Dmitriy Medvedev, for the warm welcome and traditional hospitality.
The critical issue on the agenda of today’s summit meeting is to further improve the system of collective security within Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
Reasonable and timely, in our view, are the initiatives aimed at ensuring effectiveness and efficiency in decision-making within CSTO, at consolidating the Organization’s capacities in responding effectively to crisis situations.
In the meantime, I would like to reiterate Uzbekistan’s firm belief and position that CSTO is designed, first and foremost, to protect the Organization’s member nations from external threats, and not address conflicts and various clashes between CSTO countries and within the space of Commonwealth of Independent States.
We believe it is essential that interference or influence by CSTO be ruled out in cases of so-called violent actions taking place inside any CSTO member state. This is our fundamental position and the reason why we refused to sign the Agreement on Collective Rapid Reaction Forces back then.
In this regard, it is necessary to bear in mind that the so-called violent actions within one or another country proceed in various scenarios and may be brought about by a direct participation and funding from external forces.
It is imperative to carefully examine the facts as to who the organizers of so-called violent actions are, and only after that is accomplished should one make any decision.
The events in southern Kyrgyzstan this June 10-14, rich in lessons to be learned, demonstrated once again that the involvement of the Organization in the resolution of intra-state conflicts and crisis situations is absolutely unacceptable, unless one carefully analyzes the genuine causes of those events and thinks over all possible consequences of involvement or interference in these processes.
On June 11-12, more than a hundred thousand people, primarily ethnic Uzbek women, children and helpless elderly, crossed the border of Uzbekistan in the Ferghana Valley, fleeing an interethnic slaughter in Kyrgyzstan’s Osh and Jalal-Abad regions.
I deem it needless to expound here on tremendous challenges, including those concerning the extent of resources and means that had to be mobilized in order to house, feed and provide conveniences for those refugees, to maintain order in the border areas, and provide them with a plain feeling of safety.
Those people crossed the border not because they sought a better life; nor is it the case that they did not like to live in southern Kyrgyzstan. They have lived there for ages and will live there side by side with the Kyrgyz. We are confident in this; so is Kyrgyzstan’s President Roza Otunbayeva. I am certain that this is the way out of the ongoing tension in southern Kyrgyzstan.
I have no intention here to talk about what would have happened in the territory of Ferghana Valley of Uzbekistan with approximately 300,000 ethnic Kyrgyz living there, had we not been able to maintain calmness among our population and allowed for unlawful actions toward them [our ethnic Kyrgyz citizens].
Early in the morning of June 11, I had a lengthy conversation with Rosa Otunbayeva over the phone, at her initiative. I reassured her that no one would cross the border of Kyrgyzstan from our side under any circumstances. And I have kept my word.
The city of Osh is located in just 40 kilometers from the city of Andijan, at a maximum, while from the border it is as close as 15 kilometers away. I am convinced that had we not maintained the situation under control at that critical period of time, the inter-ethnic confrontation in southern Kyrgyzstan could have turned into an interstate conflict between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
In other words, the bloodshed in the south of Kyrgyzstan could have transformed into a gigantic ‘fire’, the consequences of which would have been tough to predict.
The causes, the organizers and the executives of those tragic events – that is a separate topic.
I would like to draw your attention time and again to the fact that if one military serviceperson, be he/she from Uzbek, Kazakh or Russian armed forces, had crossed Kyrgyzstan’s frontier, it would have given rise to a conflict rather difficult to stop.
We have enough similar cases in CIS countries. For instance, for more than twenty years, Armenia and Azerbaijan have barely been able to reach a mutually suitable deal. In those distant years, had the crisis been prevented from escalation, it could have already led both parties to address the situation and reach a compromise.
I cite these examples as a testimony to the need in every given situation to critically identify the underlying causes of events that we have dubbed violent actions.
This is the very reason why Uzbekistan refrains from signing the Regulations on Procedure of Reaction to Crisis Situations of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Nor are we signing the Statement on CSTO Peacekeeping Forces. The essence of our decision is the fact that participation in the so-called peacekeeping forces is always a voluntary act, and Uzbekistan does not intend to take part in peacekeeping operations outside its territory.
Thank you for your attention.