Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Sixth Report

Regional conflicts

23. The United Kingdom has an interest in the resolution of the conflicts which already exist in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and as great an interest in helping to prevent further conflicts from arising. We cannot dismiss conflicts in this area as being too distant to be of concern. Where conflicts occur, there is a direct financial cost in terms of increasing aid and decreasing trade; wider commercial interests (such as the transshipment of gas and oil) are adversely affected, and there are major humanitarian and human rights concerns. As the European Commission put it:[45]

    "Borders and communications remain closed. 1½ million refugees continue to live in conditions of extreme poverty and squalor. Businesses operate under particularly difficult constraints, and are not able to access regional markets. Organised crime flourishes due to shortages and interruptions of supply."

Furthermore, as the Commission went on to point out, greater international assistance is required, but the assistance is less effective than it would be in more favourable circumstances.

24. Dr Herzig told us that "conflict resolution remains the central problem for the region and should be given the highest priority in British policy, since it overlaps the categories of normative, broad Western and British commercial interests."[46] He suggested that the Government could make a substantial contribution to conflict resolution efforts through promoting NGO and academic initiatives in confidence-building work and public education projects on the reconciliation of principles of territorial integrity and self-determination. There are a number of actual and potential points of conflict in the region which pose, to a greater or lesser extent, immediate threats to regional security and stability, and we deal with the major existing conflicts in turn before turning to examine some other potential causes of instability.


25. A principal source of instability in the South Caucasus is the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.[47] Nagorno-Karabakh was an Armenian-populated autonomous enclave in Soviet Azerbaijan. From the Armenian viewpoint, it was arbitrarily and illegally given to Azerbaijan by Stalin—a decision which was contested by the Armenian authorities with all subsequent Soviet governments. The present phase of the conflict began when the Regional Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh adopted a resolution in 1988 on incorporation into Armenia. This resolution was rejected by the USSR, and Soviet troops were deployed in the area to suppress nationalist ambitions. When Armenia declared itself independent in September 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh did likewise. A bitter and bloody conflict between the Karabakhis, aided by Armenia, and the authorities in Baku ensued. After initial Azeri successes, Armenian and Karabakhi forces in 1993 took full control of Nagorno-Karabakh and a whole swath of Azerbaijani territory. This amounts to around 20 per cent of Azerbaijan's total territory and is an area about which there is no dispute as to sovereignty.[48] A ceasefire came into operation in mid-1994. This has since held, despite persistent violations, with perhaps 300 persons killed annually.[49] During our visit to Azerbaijan, there were further skirmishes, with deaths on both sides. In total, the FCO estimates that over 15,000 deaths have occurred, with large displacements of population—around 900,000 Azeris from territory now controlled by Armenia/Nagorno-Karabakh and 300,000 Armenians from Azerbaijani territory.[50] Many of these refugees are housed in very poor conditions, especially in refugee camps.

26. In 1992, the then CSCE established a peace process aimed at resolving the conflict. This is known as the Minsk Group, and is largely driven by the Group's three co-chairs—France, Russia and the USA.[51] Protracted negotiations involving the Group helped achieve the 1994 ceasefire, but subsequent work to achieve a political solution has been less successful. At the OSCE Summit in Lisbon in December 1996, a statement of the principles which would form the basis of a settlement was made by the Chairman-in-office. The elements of this statement were:

    —    territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan
    • legal status for Nagorno-Karabakh based on "self-determination which confers on Nagorno-Karabakh the highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan"

    —    guaranteed security for Nagorno-Karabakh and its whole population.[52]

Armenia did not agree to this statement, which it regarded as a reversion to the status quo before 1991. It claims that Azerbaijan, in effect, held the Lisbon Summit hostage by insisting on the statement before allowing agreement on any other matter.

27. There has subsequently been some movement by Armenia. The former President, Levon Ter-Petrossian, was severely criticised by opposition parties when he said in late 1997 that he discounted independence for Nagorno-Karabakh or its integration with Armenia as possible solutions. He subsequently resigned in February 1998, and was succeeded by President Kocharian, who had been President of Nagorno-Karabakh up until September 1997 and might therefore have been expected to be more hard-line. However, President Kocharian's government now appears to accept Ter-Petrossian's view. The basic principles for which Armenia now stands are that the three parties to the conflict should have equal status in the process of resolution and the final outcome; that Nagorno-Karabakh could not exist as part of Azerbaijan, and that the security of the territory needed to be guaranteed. Armenia also supported a new idea put forward by the Minsk co-chairs, largely at Russia's suggestion, of a status for Nagorno-Karabakh as a "common state" or "common political organism."[53] A common state is a concept of government between independence and self-government. The precedent of the Pacific island of Niue (which is self governing in free association with New Zealand) was mentioned to us by Armenian government representatives. The common state idea has, however, been rejected by Azerbaijan because of the absence of a proper international precedent, and because it appeared to offer de facto independence to Nagorno-Karabakh.[54]

28. In Azerbaijan, members of the Government told us that the international community had ignored the loss to Azerbaijan of a fifth of its territory in the conflict and that what amounted to ethnic cleansing had occurred, resulting in Azerbaijan having nearly a million refugees and internally displaced persons, out of a total population of 7.5 million. Most of the refugees were still in refugee camps all over the country and wished to return to their homes. The Azerbaijan Government held Russia largely responsible for the conflict, both historically and currently, and believed that Russia's co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group conflicted with its geo-political interest in Armenia and its basing of armed forces there. The other co-chairs, France and the USA, are also regarded by Azerbaijan as having reason to favour Armenia because of their substantial Armenian populations. We were told repeatedly in Azerbaijan that the Lisbon Statement had to be the basis for any settlement. The suggestion was made to us by a member of the Azerbaijan Government that intervention from the West might be the only way to compel the parties to come to an agreement. The alternative was the continuation of the uneasy ceasefire for many years to come.

29. There are hopeful signs in the increasing frequency of meetings between Armenian and Azeri leaders. The two Presidents have met on a number of occasions, most recently at the Washington NATO Summit in April 1999. In June 1999 the Presidents of Armenia and Georgia and the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan met in Luxembourg to mark the entry into force of the EU Partnership and Co-operation Agreements. The European Commission described this meeting as "a regional 'Summit'".[55] Other meetings—of Ministers of Defence, parliamentary Speakers and others—have taken place, on occasions mediated by Georgia, which has a strong interest in a peaceful solution. On the other hand, recent military reinforcement of Armenia from Russia has been regarded as a destabilising factor in the region.[56] Turkey is also alleged to be helping Azerbaijan militarily.[57] The serious illness of President Aliev also means that progress has been stalled. Neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan should expect to be able to emerge as the winner from the process. Every party must be able to satisfy its domestic audience. However, there seems to be a broad consensus about the shape of the eventual solution—a form of self-government for Nagorno-Karabakh, a corridor from the territory to Armenia through Lachin and the return of the rest of occupied Azerbaijan to Azeri control. There will, of course, remain many extremely difficult questions of detail—such as the status of the town of Shushi, which is within Nagorno-Karabakh, but which was populated primarily by Azeris.[58]

30. The economic desirability of a solution is obvious. Armenia and Azerbaijan are among the countries whose economies have shrunk most since the break-up of the Soviet Union.[59] The World Bank's Country Assistance Strategies for both Armenia and Azerbaijan make it clear that future economic prosperity is in both cases contingent upon resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[60] As well as the waste of resources in military terms and the vast cost of supporting the refugees from the conflict, the closure of the borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia is costly to both countries—Azerbaijan cannot reach its territory to the south west of Armenia (Nakhichevan) except through Iran, while Armenia cannot use rail and road links through Azerbaijan to its markets in Russia. Armenia is particularly badly affected because its borders to Turkey are also closed—Turkey being a traditional ally of the Azeris. Opening the border with Turkey would not benefit Armenia alone—for example, Turkey could benefit from opening an electricity interconnector between the two countries. Even if the economic blockades are not watertight, as LINKS pointed out, "they create enough suffering particularly among the most vulnerable parts of the population to create animosity and bad feeling."[61] A direct oil pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan in Turkey could also pass through Armenia—and, possibly Nagorno-Karabakh itself. Such a pipeline would promote economic co-operation in the South Caucasus, but cannot be built while the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute continues.[62]

31. The United Kingdom is perceived in both Armenia and Azerbaijan as having a role to play in securing a long-term solution. Indeed, Mr Adams of Monument Oil and Gas told us that there was disappointment in the region and a failure to understand why the United Kingdom was not trying to play a more prominent role in facilitating a solution.[63] Members of the Armenian Government told us that they hoped that the British Government would press the Azerbaijani government to be more flexible. They also welcomed what they saw as an acknowledgement by the Foreign Secretary that, post Kosovo, territorial integrity needed to be seen in a fresh light. This, in their view, showed that there might be new means of reconciling the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity. As Razmik Panossian of the LSE put it, the "most fundamental tension" in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict arises from the conflict of these principles.[64] The Armenian side would also welcome direct United Kingdom involvement once the implementation of any peace agreement began. It was also stressed to us that there is an indirect role for the United Kingdom, both in fostering business links because business would thrive best in an economically integrated South Caucasus, and in promoting democracy because democratic states are more predictable to deal with. The use of force to expel an aggressor in Kosovo was also seen as an important precedent by Azerbaijan. Its Ambassador expressed the wish that the United Kingdom might "more actively participate in seeking a solution" by helping to "move the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations forward in a positive direction." He also pointed out the benefit which a solution would have for foreign investors, a considerable proportion of which were British.[65]

32. There has been a perception in Armenia (with some historical justification)[66] that the United Kingdom has favoured Azerbaijan.[67] To some extent this was exacerbated by the decision to open a British Embassy in Baku three years before an Embassy in Yerevan, and by the greater commercial involvement by major British companies in Azerbaijan as opposed to Armenia. This perception appears to have been removed by careful diplomacy. We do not detect any bias towards either side from Her Majesty's Government, and we believe that this is a position from which the Government can best help achieve a lasting solution. The absence of any baggage from involvement with the Minsk Group may also be helpful to the United Kingdom. As LINKS put it, "[The United Kingdom's] absence from the Minsk Group... should be used to its advantage as it may allow it to explore different avenues with the sides which can support and complement the main negotiating process."[68] Ms Quin told us that she believed that the Government "should be devoting more attention to" Nagorno-Karabakh.[69] We welcome this. Given that the British Government believes that it is regarded by both Armenia and Azerbaijan as neutral and friendly, we recommend that it consider how it may best take forward the Minsk Group's work and contribute to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.


33. There are two areas of armed conflict in Georgia—in South Ossetia and in Abkhazia. We deal with these in separate sections below. Coupled with the problems of governing Adjaria, where the writ of the central Georgian Government hardly runs, these conflicts have meant that Georgia faces severe problems in functioning as a state fully in control of its national territory.

South Ossetia

34. The Ossetian people are of Iranian origin. Administration of Ossetia was divided between Russia and Georgia by Stalin, with South Ossetia becoming an autonomous region of Georgia. In 1989 demands increased in South Ossetia for reunification with North Ossetia and therefore integration with Russia. Following violent clashes between Ossetians and Georgians, South Ossetia declared independence in 1990. A series of ceasefires interspersed by resumed hostilities followed until, in 1992, Presidents Shevardnadze and Yeltsin agreed a ceasefire which has more or less held since.[70] Around 1,500 deaths occurred in the conflict. The Georgian side has refused to recognise any secession by South Ossetia, and does not accept the legitimacy of the election of Ludvig Chiribov as President of South Ossetia in November 1997. South Ossetia is, however, recognised as an Autonomous Region of Georgia. There are also around 50,000 refugees—these are both Ossetians who had lived in Georgia and have now been displaced to Russia or North or South Ossetia, and Georgians who lived in South Ossetia. The population of South Ossetia is currently estimated by the OSCE to be around 45,000 to 50,000.

35. The OSCE has been involved in seeking a peaceful solution since 1995, mediating a quadripartite process involving Georgia, Russia, North Ossetia and South Ossetia. A complex structure of working groups on military and security issues, economic issues and refugees reporting to a Joint Control Commission, and buttressed by weekly local administrative meetings as well as high level meetings has been established. All involve the OSCE, and some the UNHCR. We were told by the OSCE in Tbilisi that no progress had been made in 1998, but that the mechanism had begun to function again in March 1999. In their view, no solution was imminent, but the situation was stable. There appears to have been an end to the ethnic aspects of this conflict, which were fanned by the nationalist policies of the former Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Georgian, Russian and Ossetian peace-keeping troops patrol together. There may, however, be incentives on both sides to delay a solution: an important transit route to Russia passes through South Ossetia, and this can be exploited by the South Ossetian authorities for revenue. For the Georgian Government, any concessions made on South Ossetia might be used as a precedent in their much more troubling dispute in Abkhazia. In this atmosphere of stalemate, and with no impending violence, there is little more that the United Kingdom can do except to encourage meetings and rapprochement between the two sides.


36. A more intractable problem is that of Abkhazia. Abkhazia had achieved virtual autonomy within Georgia in the 1920s. In 1930, however, large numbers of Georgians were settled in Abkhazia with the result that, by 1989, autochthonous Abkhazians formed only 18 per cent of the population, and ethnic Georgians 44 per cent.[71] In the early 1990s there was intense ethnic conflict within Abkhazia. The ethnic Abkhazians, aided allegedly by conservative elements within the Russian leadership and senior military, succeeded in gaining control of the whole territory. Perhaps 10,000 people were killed. Over 200,000 ethnic Georgians (possibly as many as 300,000) fled—many are still housed in hotels in Tbilisi. Many Georgians whom we met likened what had happened in Abkhazia to the events which had prompted NATO to intervene in Kosovo. In November 1994, Abkhazia declared itself to be an independent republic, and elected the separatist leader Vladislav Ardzinba as its President. Russia and the UN Security Council are amongst those who have condemned this declaration of independence and who have re-affirmed Georgia's territorial integrity.[72] President Shevardnadze has said that his Government is willing to give Abkhazia the "highest autonomy within the territorial borders of Georgia,"[73] though the Abkhaz administration has so far appeared resolute in its determination to be an independent state.

37. A ceasefire was agreed between the Abkhazian authorities and Georgia in May 1994, with a de facto border established. This ceasefire has been punctuated by a number of outbreaks of violence, with, for example, a flare-up of fighting in the Gali region in May 1998 resulting in around 100 deaths and the displacement of around 30,000 refugees (mainly ethnic Georgians who had returned to the area). The ceasefire is monitored by a CIS peace-keeping force, of around 2,500 troops, principally from Russia. There is a separate UN Observer Mission (UNOMIG) to which the United Kingdom contributes seven personnel. We encountered some criticism of UNOMIG. For example, LINKS told us that it "has a flawed mandate; lacks the trust of the parties; lacks clear political leadership; is too large to be a simple observer mission and too small to be an effective force of deterrence, and is obsessed with its own safety."[74] We were also told in Georgia that UNOMIG was very security conscious, had failed to develop good informal links and was an expensive operation to run. We did not take evidence from the UN on this matter, but we trust that the British Government will examine carefully any criticism of the efficiency of the UNOMIG operation to see whether it has any basis.

38. The UN, supported by Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany who have formed a group known as Friends of the Secretary General, have attempted to broker a comprehensive political settlement. This is known as the Geneva Process. At the time of their March 1999 Memorandum, the FCO told us that there had been little progress.[75] However, a meeting held in Istanbul in early June appears to have achieved more than was expected, with agreements on prisoner exchanges, the establishment of working groups on refugees and a series of joint economic projects. A further round of talks will be held in Yalta, but no date has yet been fixed. One fundamental problem is the unwillingness of the Abkhaz authorities to agree to the return of ethnic Georgians in such a way that they would form a majority in Abkhazia. Although a solution of this dilemma may still be a long way off, the Geneva Process seems now to be establishing a practical dialogue on the humanitarian and economic issues which will provide the positive background necessary for a political solution. There is, however, at the very least some ambiguity about the role of Russia, which maintains military bases in Abkhazia— there are many in Georgia who believe that the troubles in Abkhazia are used by Russia as a means of leverage to keep Georgia in the Russian zone of influence.

39. There are indeed important economic and humanitarian reasons which should encourage all parties to seek a solution. From the point of view of the Georgian Government, significant transport links to Russia have been severed, while the acute refugee problem is a major drain on national resources. In Abkhazia itself, there is a blockade against cross-boundary trade. This means, as Jonathan Cohen of Conciliation Resources put it, that there is a "most severe economic challenge.... there is little productive industry.... and much of the agricultural bounty of what was a supremely fertile region has gone to waste. The trade that does exist is either of a subsistence kind or controlled by mafia-type organisations."[76] Most of the remaining population is dependent on international humanitarian aid. Russia, too, would be the economic beneficiary of a solution.

40. We welcome the Government's commitment to being "closely involved" in trying to resolve the Abkhazian conflict and to playing "an important role" in the Geneva Process.[77] The value of British experience in Northern Ireland was quoted both by academic witnesses[78] and by interlocutors in Georgia. NGOs, such as LINKS and Conciliation Resources, also have an important role to play.[79] We are aware of activity by British diplomats on the ground in Georgia, and we hope that a continuing effort will be made by the British Government to build up confidence between Abkhazia and Georgia, and to encourage Russia to play an unambiguous role in promoting a solution which meets the needs of the two parties directly involved. We welcome the British Government's involvement in resolving the conflict in Abkhazia and, while we recognise the great difficulties involved, we recommend that work towards a solution of a problem which threatens the security and integrity of the Georgian state should be a regional priority for British diplomacy.


41. The civil war in Tajikistan flared up in 1992 when opposition groups sought to seize control from the government in power, destroying the fledgling Tajik state and dividing the country. An uneasy peace was established in 1997, and, despite numerous breaches of ceasefire agreements, the peace process continues. A UN operation, UNMOT, has been established to monitor the ceasefire and the development of the process: peace-keeping forces, overwhelmingly Russian, have been provided by the CIS and Russia proposes to establish a further military base in the country. Tajikistan is the poorest state in Central Asia. However, it has significant natural resources. Its gold deposits are being extracted by United Kingdom and Canadian concerns, which provide a significant boost to the national GDP.[80] Its location at the head of the Amu Darya and Zarafshan rivers gives it control of a large proportion of Central Asia's water resources. A recent threat by the rebel leader Khudoberdiyev to dynamite one of the country's largest reservoirs sent shock waves through the region. Anthony Hyman told us that Uzbekistan was worried about the continuing instability in Tajikistan spilling over into the region as a whole, but that it was also alleged that Uzbekistan had had a role in supporting rebellious tendencies in the Uzbek-populated areas of northern Tajikistan.[81] Tajikistan borders Afghanistan, and the conflicts in both countries feed off each other, with obvious consequences for regional security. The Tajik conflict has led to the displacement of thousands of refugees, principally to the Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. These refugees, together with those from the Afghan conflict, have put an enormous strain on other regional economies and have also contributed to regional instability by revealing "the limitations of both official and public tolerance."[82] There are, however, grounds for optimism. The UNHCR has succeeded in repatriating to Tajikistan almost all of the 60,000 Tajiks who had fled to Afghanistan. In 1999 UNHCR aims to reintegrate 13,000 returning refugees, repatriate a further 5,000 Tajiks in the surrounding Central Asian states, Pakistan and Iran, and to assist the Kyrgyz Republic and Turkmenistan in the settling of 30,000 Tajiks who do not wish to return to Tajikistan.[83]

42. Dr Anderson called for an emphasis on rebuilding Tajikistan "both economically, politically and psychologically."[84] We heard while in Tashkent that the peace process was in a fragile state and that immediate United Kingdom assistance would be welcomed. While the United Kingdom claims to seek to contribute to the resolution of conflict in Tajikistan, the FCO told us that the United Kingdom was not a participant in the peace process, only supporting the process via the Security Council. Direct United Kingdom participation in the region is hampered by a specific security threat against United Kingdom interests, in the light of which the FCO has advised against all travel to Tajikistan by United Kingdom nationals.[85] No United Kingdom direct aid programme can be developed until this situation improves, although £5.5 million has been given to operations of the EU, the UN and the Aga Khan Foundation since 1994.[86] Other than the operations of the UK-Canadian mining concern Nelson Gold, the United Kingdom has no significant presence in Tajikistan. In view of the continued threat to regional stability posed by the situation in Tajikistan, we recommend that the Government maintain its efforts to support the peace process in Tajikistan through the UN Security Council.

43. These instances of open conflict are the most visible source of insecurity in South Caucasus and Central Asia. There are, however, numerous other issues arising from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition of the countries in the region to independence which give us cause for concern. We set out a number of these below.

Ethnic tensions

44. A number of factors are contributing to the development of ethnic tensions in the South Caucasus and Central Asia beyond the areas of conflict we have outlined above. Dr Neil Melvin drew our attention to the large diaspora populations of Uzbeks, Kyrgyz and Kazakhs settled as minorities in other Central Asia states.[87] According to Dr John Anderson, 14 per cent, or 615,000, of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic is Uzbek, while 150,000 Kyrgyz are settled in Uzbekistan.[88] There are also large Uzbek minorities in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In addition to the Central Asian minority populations, significant numbers of Russians have stayed on in the region since 1991. In Kazakhstan 32 per cent of the population is Russian, in the Kyrgyz Republic 22 per cent, in Tajikistan 10 per cent, in Turkmenistan 7 per cent and in Uzbekistan 8 per cent.[89] Some of the populations deported from the Caucasus to Central Asia in the 1930s faced difficulties following perestroika and after independence: for instance, the Meskhetians forcibly settled in the Uzbek SSR during the Second World War were forced to flee to Azerbaijan and Russia following persecution in 1989, and most have still not been allowed to return to their homelands in Georgia. A sizeable community of Germans, deported from the Volga region by Stalin, remains in Kazakhstan.

45. While the ethnic issues in Central Asia have not yet caused the general instability which was predicted after independence, the fact remains that if the situation is not carefully managed it could provide fuel for further conflict in the region.[90] Dr Melvin told us that "some of the worst ethnic-based conflict of the perestroika period" had occurred in Central Asia in 1989 and 1990.[91] In 1989 ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks slaughtered each other in and around the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. Uzbekistan is now alleged to be seeking to destabilise the Uzbek population in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic, and to be moving sections of its borders into Kyrgyz territory.[92] Different states have different approaches to their specific minority issues. Kazakhstan, with its large Russian population, has shown sensitivity to minority issues, as the Kazakh Government cannot afford to ignore the view of Russia on the situation of the Russian minority. However, we note the tendency of a number of states to develop concepts of nationality which are based upon ethnic definitions, as national languages are promoted and ethnically-based national histories are developed. Should these policies lead to the marginalisation of minorities, there is a danger that they may look for support beyond that state: this would pose a clear threat to regional stability and might ultimately threaten the territorial integrity of the Central Asian republics. Any further decline in the unsteady economic situation in the region could also exacerbate ethnic tensions, as quarrels may erupt over the allocation of ever more scarce resources.

Political and religious extremism

46. Political extremism and religious extremism are not, of course, analogous, and no automatic correlation can be made between the two. However, there is a perception in Central Asia in particular that a threat exists to regional stability from politically-extreme and terrorist organisations, and an automatic tendency to link such threats to the activity of extreme religious organisations. This tendency is not particularly recent: Dr Melvin wrote that movements deriving their political radicalism from the teachings of Islam had been operating underground in the Soviet republics since the mid-1980s, to the horror of the Soviet authorities who had sought to eliminate such threats to Communist rule.[93] This fear of the destabilisation of the state is used in justification of the repressive religious and security policies of several states. Chief among these is Uzbekistan, which has used the example of the Tajik rebellion in 1992, when opposition forces had support from politically-extreme religious groups, as a warning of the dangers of so-called "fundamentalism". Other states also have security concerns. The secular and largely Moslem state of Azerbaijan has close links with the large community of Azeris in north-west Iran, and fears the spread of extremist influences: it, too, has banned Islamist parties.[94]

47. The extent of extremist activity in Central Asia is difficult to assess. However, restrictions on worship and other religious activities have been imposed in all the Central Asian states save the Kyrgyz Republic.[95] The socially conservative, ethnically-divided, overpopulated and remote Fergana Valley is believed to be a regional centre for extremism, and the government of Uzbekistan had moved to treat it accordingly.[96] Isolated incidents of extremist proselytising from bases in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have also been taken as evidence of plots against the Uzbek state. A general crackdown on all forms of unregistered religious activity took place after the bombings in Tashkent in February 1999, which killed sixteen and injured over one hundred: this has been followed by a number of public trials of alleged terrorists.[97] Dr Herzig told us that there was evidence of a number of extremist groups "dotted about", but that the existence of a thriving Moslem religion should not be taken as evidence of incipient political extremism. However, attempts to subject religious organisations to strict political control, as in Uzbekistan, have driven even the moderate religious opposition underground, creating stability in the short term but storing up difficulties.[98]

45   Appendix 33, Evidence p. 205. Back

46   Evidence p. 3, para. 4.2. Back

47   For accounts of the conflict, see Appendix 28, Evidence pp. 189-192; Appendix 14, Evidence pp. 163-167. Back

48   Appendix 20, Evidence p. 175. Back

49   HL Deb 21 June 1999 cc. 648ff. Back

50   Evidence p. 84. Back

51   Though the United Kingdom has seconded personnel to the OSCE's Mission in Nagorno-Karabakh; Q229. Back

52   See Appendix 20, Evidence p. 176. Back

53   This is an idea which Russia has also put forward in Moldova and Abkhazia, perhaps with an eye on its own problems in Chechnya.  Back

54   See HL Deb 21 June 1999 cc. 648ff. Back

55   Appendix 33, Evidence p. 204. Back

56   QQ8, 35, 223. Back

57   Appendix 14, Evidence p. 164. Back

58   Appendix 14, Evidence p. 164-though Shushi was predominantly an Armenian town in the 1920s-see Appendix 11, Evidence p. 152. Back

59   See paragraph 76. Back

60   Summary of Country Assistance Strategy of the World Bank Group for the Republic of Armenia, and Azerbaijan-Draft Country Assistance Strategy: Preliminary Strategic Statement, World Bank, 8 March 1999. Back

61   Evidence p. 23. Back

62   For a discussion of pipeline policy see below, paragraphs 98-101. Back

63   Q136. Back

64   Appendix 14, Evidence p. 164. Back

65   Appendix 20, Evidence p. 175. Back

66   See Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy, p. 713; Appendix 17, Evidence p. 170. Back

67   Appendix 14, Evidence p. 165. Back

68   Evidence p. 25. Back

69   Q222. Back

70   Evidence p. 85. Back

71   Russians form 16 per cent of the population. There are a number of other small groups. Back

72   Evidence p. 85. Back

73   Press Conference, 29 January 1999, UN Press Briefings. Back

74   Evidence p. 24. Back

75   Evidence p. 85. Back

76   Appendix 12, Evidence p. 159, para. 9. Back

77   Evidence p. 81. Back

78   Appendix 7, Evidence p. 130. Back

79   See, for example, Appendix 12, Evidence p. 160, para. 12. Back

80   Nelson Gold operates in the north of Tajikistan: Evidence p. 90. Back

81   QQ39-40 and Evidence p. 89, para. 3. Back

82   Appendix 5, Evidence p. 123. Back

83   UNHCR Global Appeal 1999: available on UNHCR website at Back

84   Appendix 5, Evidence p. 123. Back

85   Evidence p. 89, para. 7. Back

86   Evidence p. 89, para. 7. Back

87   Appendix 7, Evidence p. 129. Back

88   The FCO estimate is 130,000: Evidence p. 87. Back

89   Evidence pp. 86-91. Back

90   Appendix 5, Evidence p. 123. Back

91   Appendix 7, Evidence p. 129. Back

92   Appendix 7, Evidence p. 129; Appendix 5, Evidence p. 123. Back

93   Appendix 7, Evidence p. 128. Back

94   Islamist parties aim to establish a theocratic state. Back

95   Appendix 5, Evidence p. 122. Back

96   Evidence p. 92. Back

97   We refer to this further at paragraph 114 below. Back

98   Q40. Back

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