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Michael Lienhardt in Uzbekistan and then in "North Korea...

Michael Lienhardt in Uzbekistan and then in “North Korea…

The new Austrian Foreign Minister discusses opportunities for economic cooperation and stability in Afghanistan.

Tashkent. Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Lienhardt (ÖVP), arrived in Uzbekistan on Sunday during a trip through Central Asia, where he will speak today with Foreign Minister Abdulhamid Camilo as well as experts from the United Nations and the Academy of Islamic Studies. Lynhart has previously been to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the tour ends in Turkmenistan on Tuesday. The main topics are the situation in Afghanistan and economic cooperation.

Under the pragmatic president, Shavkat Mersegogo (since 2016), the country of 35 million has been on the path of liberal reform. The climate of repression that prevailed under his predecessor Islam Karimov has disappeared. However, critics doubt the reforms and whether the people will benefit from them. However, the president recently fired senior officials for preventing them from accessing social networks such as Facebook.

On Saturday, Mirsyoyev, 64, stressed his desire for more democratic reforms. Western diplomats speak of high economic potential. However, human rights activists generally accuse the Uzbek leadership of violating basic rights.

North Korea and Central Asia

Turkmenistan, Leinhart’s final destination, is known as the “North Korea of ​​Central Asia”. The totalitarian leadership of the country of six million people displays some strange traits. The president and amateur musician, Gurbanguly Berdimushamido, who has been in office since 2007, attracted attention with strange music videos and elegiac poems that were published in the state press. The cult of personality around him, but above all around his deceased predecessor Sabarmirat Niyazu (in office 1992-2006), is enormous. Last year, the “wise leader” inaugurated a huge gold-plated monument to Alpay, the “dog of the state” in the capital, Ashgabat. It is a type of German Shepherd. These animals were important to the nomadic peoples of Turkmenistan and other countries of the region. (APA)

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(“Die Presse,” print edition, November 8, 2021)