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The Eurasian Economic Union Is Calling. Is Uzbekistan Listening?

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) will welcome Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyayev to Moscow next month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) will welcome Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyayev to Moscow next month.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev is scheduled to make an official visit to Russia in February and one of the top items on the agenda is certain to be Uzbekistan's possible membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EES).

It is a topic that Russian officials have raised several times since Mirziyoev became Uzbekistan's leader in late 2016. Most recently, The chairperson of Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, was in Uzbekistan in early October telling the media Uzbek officials had signaled their interest in joining the EES. Uzbek officials have been more circumspect though they do admit the idea is under consideration.

What are the signs Uzbekistan might be leaning toward joining the EES? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of joining?

RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on Uzbekistan's possible entry into the EES.

Joining from Washington was Umida Hashimova from the Strategic Studies division of the Center for Naval Analysis and author of a recent article about Uzbekistan and the EES. From India, Samten Bhutia, an economist who writes often about Central Asia and in fact, just published an article about this topic, participated in the discussion.

And taking part from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Medet Tiulegenov provided some insight on how Kyrgyzstan has fared since being admitted to the EES in 2015. And I've been following this organization as it has rebranded itself over the course of some 25 years, so I had a thing or two to say also.

Majlis Podcast: Will Uzbekistan Join The Eurasian Union?
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About Majlis

Each week, hosts Bruce Pannier and Muhammad Tahir welcome a panel of expert guests to discuss significant political developments and pressing social issues affecting the nations of Central Asia.

Click here to check out the latest Majlis podcast, or visit ITunes.