Germany, clearly incentivised by advancing its own economic interests, has led the fight for lifting sanctions. EU nations can once again sell weapons to a corrupt regime lead by the brutal dictator Islam Karimov.
The claim that the Uzbek situation has progressed is specious:
There have been no improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan. There remains no freedom of speech, assembly, movement or religion. Thousands of political prisoners slave in the gulags, children are forced into the fields by soldiers to pick the cotton. Thousands still suffer hideous torture every year.The value of the removal of sanctions is largely symbolic. Uzbekistan has been obtaining weapons from non-EU sources. Although Russia is reported to be their main suppliers, the U.S. has played a major role in supporting the Karimov regime. Because of its usefulness as a launch pad for offences in the Middle East, the U.S. has pumped money in to the hands of the Karimov government in order to buy favour with the regime.
Obama has been more than willing to ‘cut deals’ with Karimov. Obama recently agreed to triple the fee for its U.S. airbase in Uzbekistan. The most recent official U.S. rhetoric on Uzbekistan-U.S. Relations spoke of ‘partnership,’ ‘historic agreement,’ ‘a very positive development,’ and ‘our friends in the Uzbek government.’ There was even an attempt to sell Uzbekistan to U.S. corporations, ‘we will explore ways that we can expose more American companies to the opportunities here.’
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to questions regarding human rights, there was considerable obfuscation:
With respect to the human rights question, the United States and Uzbekistan intend to initiate a bilateral annual consultation in which we will discuss the full range of priorities on our bilateral agenda. I conveyed an invitation from the United States government to the government of Uzbekistan to send a high-level delegation at the time of their choosing to the United States to begin those consultations. As I said in my statement, I am confident that we will be able to make progress on the full range of priorities on our bilateral agenda.As for why so many nations are willing to get into bed with one of the world's most egregious regimes, I will leave you with Craig Murray’s a concise appraisal
The politicians do it because the media and public do not seem to care, so they think they can get away with it. So far, they are right.