At a panel discussion at the National press club in Washington dedicated to the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, the deputy chairman of the Uzbek Senate Sodiq Safoev notably said:
“I would like to respond to one question, which is whether the democratic changes in Uzbekistan are reversible, and whether they have fundamentals to be genuine, not an imitation.”
“I think there are two reasons to believe that these reforms are genuine and irreversible. First, there is clear understanding that to confront challenges that Uzbekistan has, due to its location, legacy and heritage, we need true political transformation and modernization. This is the only way to combat political Islam to prevail, radicalization of the society and for an economic take-off. All of this needs good governance, anti-corruption measures, justice and the rule of law. Only these can guarantee sustainable development.”
“Second, it is Uzbekistan’s demography. 70% of the Uzbek population is the youth under 30 years of age. The Uzbek youth wants openness, freedom and more opportunities. The government must take into the pressure from its constituency. Any reforms are accompanied with hardships. Freedom is not easy and freedom brings challenges and Uzbekistan might overcome these challenges by using the experience of the developed democracies, and we are open for the dialogue on this issue."