‘Mirziyoyev Model’: Break from the Past in Uzbekistan
Experts who speculated on the future of Uzbekistan believed that after Islam Karimov died the country would fall into a type of civil war because “pressure groups” would be too greedy to share power. Uzbekistan went through the transition period smoothly and the new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has initiated changes in domestic and foreign policy.
Mirziyoyev has initiated comprehensive reforms that have become known as the “Mirziyoyev Model,” which involve initiatives like fighting corruption, streamlining government, economic liberalization and a PR campaign to promote Uzbekistan’s image.
His reforms reflect present needs. Central to the initiatives is the search for Uzbeks who will work for the interests of Uzbekistan. “Deeds, not words” says Mirziyoyev, denouncing the inaction of veteran government employees. “You should put up with this only two years and you will be replaced with a younger generation. I need someone fresh and alive…not some tired retread. Even if they are 25 years-old, I will appoint them as ministers; I will mentor them on my own. It does not make any sense to teach you, since you will not change.”
The anti-corruption campaign is not just on paper, but it has achieved practical results. For instance, Mirziyoyev on February 2 approved the 2017-2018 State Anti-Corruption Program.
As for eliminating dysfunction within government, Mirziyoyev follows the position that if it works, let’s try it, if not, get rid of it, try another approach. Uzbekistan’s president imposed concrete conditions and specific time frames for government employees. If they cope with the task, they are rewarded, if not, they are fired. After the visit to Olmazor region, Mirziyoyev dismissed the governor of the region, the heads of Tax Inspection and Regional Department of Internal Affairs and Regional Prosecutor. After denouncing bankers and financiers, Mirziyoyev fired Rustam Azimov, the minister of finance.
Economic liberalization is one of his top priorities. For some time, Uzbekistan has dealt in black market currency. After Mirziyoyev assumed power, he embarked on the liberalization of currency markets, signing the decree on “Priority directions of currency policy.”
Foreign policy is another area where the president wishes to make progress. Specifically, he intends to strengthen ties with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and reduce tension in relations with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan that have caused strain. From the time Mirziyoyev assumed the presidency, he has sought the easing of tension between neighboring countries, appointing Nematov Ilhomjon as Ambassador-at-Large, who is in charge of deliniating and demarcation of the state border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Besides promoting economic products and using neighboring states for transit, the logic behind close cooperation of Uzbekistan with its neighbors so as to withstand the Russian military threat and Chinese economic hegemonic expansion.
Uzbekistan, apart from Russia and China, Mirziyoyev has an aspirations to develop good relations with the Western world. Uzbekistan has already complied with human rights conditions set by Brussels, and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development agreed to resume investments to Uzbekistan. Human Rights Watch expelled in 2011 will resume its work in Uzbekistan. Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s speech in the General Assembly of UN, was dedicated to democratization, stressing human rights and eliminating child labor and to be a balancing power against Russia and China on the one hand, and to extend the geography of cooperation of Uzbekistan on the other.
Mirziyoyev model also promotes the image of Uzbekistan. It is no secret that Uzbekistan is frequently confused with Afghanistan or Pakistan by foreigners and Shavkat Mirziyoyev has started a number of PR campaigns. Moreover, embassies of Uzbekistan have started promoting Uzbek culture and tourism.
Relying on his “model” that comprises fighting corruption, streamlining the government, liberalizing the economy, easing the strain between neighboring countries and creating conditions for foreign investments and promoting a national image, it is possible that Mirziyoyev will propel Uzbekistan into one of the economic centers of Eurasia, should he continue to follow the course he has initiated.