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The Economist Named Uzbekistan as the Country of the Year
Uzbekistan became the country of the year according to the British magazine The Economist.
The publication notes that making a choice this year was very difficult, and the democratic successes achieved by the country of the year do not guarantee that it will not turn from the path of progress in the future.
Moreover, in 2019 the most striking political trend was negative: militant nationalism.
“The global tide was so strong that it was nice to see some countries go the other way,” they note in the magazine and cite New Zealand as an example.
The editors note the progress of several countries, including Northern Macedonia and Sudan. The first one changed its name this year, thanks to which relations with Greece became much warmer, and the second was able to get rid of the Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir, who in the article is called one of the most vile tyrants in the world.
“Nevertheless, the risk that the cutthroats of the old regime could frustrate democratic reforms is still alarmingly high,” the British magazine worries.
Thus, the winner was Uzbekistan. The article recalls that just three years ago, legions of men, women and children were forced to work in the cotton fields during the harvest, and the country itself was "a closed society with extreme cruelty and incompetence."
In 2018, after the resignation of the head of the State Security Service, several reforms started in the country at once, which accelerated over the past year, the magazine says.
“The government has largely stopped forced labor. The notorious prison camp was closed. Foreign journalists are allowed into the country. Officials were forbidden to nightmare the business. Foreign technocrats are invited to help rebuild the state economy,” the article reads.
Uzbekistan has a long way to go (the current parliamentary elections are far from democracy, for example), but in 2019, no other country has moved so far, the authors of the editorial summarize.