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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Aral Azizullah
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, April 19, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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QUESTION: First of all, I will thank you, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. I have some questions regarding policy of the United States towards Uzbekistan. My first question is: How does the United States assess the domestic political situation in Uzbekistan? And is it better or worse than, say, one year ago before the parliamentary and presidential elections?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I believe that the domestic political situation here is difficult because Uzbekistan is going through its transitional phase, and President Karimov is working very hard to move it through that phase. But we were unhappy about the way that the last parliamentary elections were carried out -- that the opposition parties were not able to participate. And the OSCE also observed what was happening, and they came to the same conclusions, and we agreed with the OSCE conclusions.

QUESTION: Thank you. How serious does the United States perceive the danger of an Islamic terrorist threat in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states to be? What is the U.S. prepared and able to do to help the states of the region combat the threat?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we do believe that there is an important and serious threat in this region -- a terrorist threat -- and problems with narco-trafficking and generally, difficulties in controlling the borders. The United States has been helping the countries in the region to deal with this problem. And we intend to provide approximately $3 million dollars in assistance for equipment and training to help Uzbekistan combat the terrorism and the illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, and narcotics. And the assistance will be provided through the State Department's antiterrorism assistance program, nonproliferation export control and border security assistance programs, and counter-narcotics and law enforcement training programs. And I just visited something that is called here the Customs College where they are in fact using some of the equipment that has been provided to them by the U.S. and learning methods of how to help control the borders.

QUESTION: Thank you. Next question: How great does the United States consider the likelihood to be that Uzbekistan and the other Central Asian States may conclude that Russia is a more reliable medium and long-term partner in security issues than the United States?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, we are not involved in a zero sum game here with the Russians. The Russians are neighbors, and we have no problem, obviously, with these countries having good neighborly relations with Russia. And we believe that it is important for all the countries to respect each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we consider that a sine qua non for relationships in this region. And the United States will continue to help the countries here in terms of their transitions to democracies and market systems, as well as to help them with the various problems that they have in terrorism, narco-trafficking, and border control.

QUESTION: My last question is: What is your opinion about the situation on Kazakh-Kyrgyz border? As you know, Uzbekistan started demarcation work on the border without any preliminary consultation with the Kazakh side. Do you think such action may relate to what Zbigniew Brzezinski said in one of his books, "Creation of the New Balkans?" Are you going to discuss that issue with Uzbek and Kazakh presidents?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I do think that it is important for the countries here to cooperate in terms of dealing with their mutual questions. Border issues are clearly issues that affect two countries -- and sometimes more. And they need very much to deal with each other in a cooperative and respectful way. I think that this region is potentially one where there can be conflict that should be avoided. I think it is always very hard to compare one region in the world to another because there are very specific issues, but I do think that it is important for these countries to work together to resolve these conflicts and to understand that their borders -- particularly many of which go through mountains and have difficult terrain -- that they be delineated in a way that helps to solve problems and not create new ones.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Albright, for your interesting interview. Thanks.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much.

[End of Document]
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