New Uzbek president vows to strengthen security
TASHKENT -- Acting Uzbekistani President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is urging security as the watchword for his country's law enforcement agencies and military.
In his first speech to parliament, which he gave September 9, he called preserving peace and harmony his foremost goal. He urged the strengthening of security forces to thwart any extremists.
"We must guard our priceless treasure -- peace and tranquility -- like the apple of our eye," he said in his address. "We must also strengthen ethnic and inter-faith harmony ... We need to strengthen the rule of law."
Fighting off extremism, courting neighbours
Mirziyoyev warned about the enemies of stability. The country suffered deadly terrorist attacks in 1999 and 2004. A terrorist group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, even appropriated the country's name.
Meanwhile, hundreds of radicalised Uzbekistanis are fighting in Syria and Iraq alongside militants, according to international observer groups.
"It's no secret that forces exist who want to destabilise [the country], sow hatred and conflicts and even spill blood," Mirziyoyev said. "We will continue to .... strengthen our armed forces and law enforcement."
Uzbekistan will continue its amicable policy toward its neighbours to maintain regional security, he said.
"We will remain firmly committed to our policy of being open, good neighbours and pragmatic towards our closest neighbours: Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan," Mirziyoyev said in his speech.
"Peaceful existence in the country has continued," Tashkent political scientist Valerii Khan told Caravanserai about the aftermath of Uzbekistan's first-ever presidential transition. President Islam Karimov died September 2.
Stability prevails in Uzbekistan
Tashkent residents are expressing a feeling of security.
"Everything is the same as ever," Tashkent resident Sogdiana Yakubova told Caravanserai. "On September 12, the whole country celebrated Eid ul Adha."
Uzbekistan's law enforcement "won't let the situation get out of control", she predicted.
"No extremist demonstrations or riots occurred," Bukhara resident Timur Razamatov told Caravanserai.
"Life has returned to its former course," Tashkent resident Azad Latipov told Caravanserai. "I'm planning soon to go to to the Fergana Valley on a railway that opened in August."
Uzbekistanis, undaunted by sharing a border with Afghanistan and by their past experiences with extremism, seem to be bearing out the results of a global poll published earlier this year.
In the Gallup Global Emotions 2016 poll, which measured responses in 140 countries in 2015, Uzbekistanis was tied with three Latin American countries for second place in "highest positive experiences".