LETTERS

Uzbekistan Not Just Cozying Up to US

The Jan. 14 article, "Critics in a Central Asian State Ask for Reality Check on Rights," suggests the government of Uzbekistan advances human rights in order to be "paid off" by Western countries. This refers to President Islam Karimov's visit to the US and his meeting with President Clinton last June.

Truth suffers when reality is distorted. Your writer notes that "in Uzbekistan not even the government pretends to be democratic." Evidently, he has no idea that Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian republic where the presidential elections have involved more than one candidate. The government is very eager to develop and strengthen democracy, knowing the potential democracy has for the development of Uzbek society.

Yes, Uzbekistan is trying to strengthen its friendly cooperation with the US and other Western countries. However, it is absurd to think that Mr. Clinton met with Mr. Karimov only as a reward. A journalist should know that the US also promotes its own interests, a fact mentioned by Clinton during his summit with Karimov in Washington.

Another author writes in "Ex-Soviet State Courts US by Siding With It in UN," Jan. 14, that cooperation with the US "helped Uzbekistan get a seat at the international table." Uzbekistan broadly cooperates with the US and other Western countries supporting the independence of the former Soviet republics. However, equal participation by Uzbekistan in the international community is guaranteed not by cooperation but primarily by its sovereignty and status as an equal partner of international relations.

The writer wonders why Uzbekistan supported the US against the UN resolution calling for the condemnation of the Cuban embargo. He did not try to understand the character of the Uzbeks, which is reflected in the foreign policy of Uzbekistan. Uzbeks do not like it when someone owing money does not pay it back on time. American businessmen have not been able to repatriate their investments in Cuba's economy. Uzbekistan supported the embargo to show its solidarity with American businessmen.

Regarding Karimov's aggressiveness, the article cites an assertion of Martha Olcott of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that "he has a notion of what Uzbekistan foreign policy should be and that it should be a leader in the region." This is absurd. Why should Uzbekistan's efforts, with the support of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, to build cooperation and integration within the framework of the Central Asian common market be considered an aggressive approach? Does Ms. Olcott consider Clinton and US policy aggressive for the establishment of a common market under NAFTA?

Turdikul Butayarov

Washington

Counselor

Embassy of Uzbekistan

Hot breakfast stirs memories

What a warm feeling to my heart and to my stomach! On reading "In Praise of Perfect Porridge" on the Home Forum page Jan. 13, I have verified, once more, that I made a good choice coming to New England.

In my native land, Chile, we had "ulpo," a coarse maize flour with water or milk, depending on the economics of that day, and sugar or honey, or both, if the adults were not looking. In Bangor, Maine, I changed from ulpo to rolled oats - oat-MEAL in Down Eastern parlance, as the author points out.

There are other factors that influenced me to stay in the land of "oats and honey," but to be married to a New Englander who provides a good breakfast that "sticks-to-your-ribs," as your writer states, is not the last one.

Rolando Miranda

Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Capital confusion

The centerpiece "Sydney Walkabout," Jan. 17, is a lovely portrait in pictures and text of Sydney, Australia. However, no amount of walking in Sydney would enable one to experience Australia's capital as the subtitle suggests. Sydney is the capital of New South Wales; Canberra is the capital of Australia.

Phillip H. Miller

Annandale, Va.

Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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