New Regional Course of Uzbekistan: Achievements and Prospects
TEHRAN (Iran News) – One of Uzbekistan’s main foreign policy objectives is to create an atmosphere of peace, stability, and security around its territory. In this regard, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has identified the development and strengthening of friendly, good-neighborly, and mutually beneficial relations with Central Asian states as a key foreign policy priority.
Within the framework of the 2020 State Program, Uzbekistan continued its consistent, open, and pragmatic foreign policy activities, including with its neighbors in Central Asia.
It should be noted that in recent years, as a result of the initiatives of President Mirziyoyev that the leaders of neighboring countries fully supported, political dialogue and personal trust among the Presidents have been strengthened. Regular consultative meetings of Central Asian leaders have been established.
As a result, the level of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the region has notably improved. In 2017-2019, trade turnover with Central Asian countries increased by an average of more than 50 percent annually and amounted to $5.2 billion. According to the statistics for 2020, despite the global pandemic, the total trade turnover of Uzbekistan with Central Asian states reached $5 billion. The share of Central Asian states in the total foreign trade turnover of Uzbekistan increased from 12.4 percent in 2019 to 13.6 percent in 2020, in which the share of Kazakhstan accounts for 61 percent, Kyrgyzstan – 18.2 percent, Turkmenistan – 10.6 percent, and Tajikistan – 10.2 percent.
Such improvement in trade and economic relations among the Central Asia states has helped to increase the investment attractiveness of the entire region. In particular, during 2017-2020, more than 300 agreements and about $75 billion worth of contracts were signed between Uzbekistan and the countries of the region.
As a result of the open, constructive and pragmatic policy of Uzbekistan in 2017-2020, such complex and tangled problems in Central Asia as water use, delimitation and demarcation of state borders between Uzbekistan and neighboring countries, the use of transport communications, and crossing state borders were solved. If five years ago, the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border was crossed by 200-300 people a day, on the eve of the global pandemic this figure reached 30,000 a day, and 20,000 citizens a day crossed the Uzbek-Tajik border.
The openness and constructive policy of Uzbekistan towards the Central Asian states is further illustrated by the joint measures taken by the leaders of the region during the global pandemic to help each other and to mitigate the impact of the spread of the coronavirus.
Despite the threat of a global pandemic, a constant dialogue between the heads of state of Central Asia is ensured and active partnerships between the countries continue. Countries in the region have been providing humanitarian assistance to each other since the early days of the spread of coronavirus infection. Uzbekistan has repeatedly sent humanitarian aid to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. In response, our neighbors, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, have provided humanitarian assistance to restore the Sardoba Reservoir. In December 2020, with the support of Uzbekistan, an infectious diseases hospital with 200 beds and fully equipped with the necessary medical equipment was commissioned in Kyrgyzstan. Moreover, during the pandemic, the exchange of information and experience in the field of medicine to fight against coronavirus and the uninterrupted movement of goods across state borders of the Central Asian states was maintained. This made it possible to reduce the incidence and mortality rate from coronavirus in the region compared to other countries in the world.
The establishment of new formats of interaction between the countries of the region contributes to an increase in the geopolitical and economic significance of Central Asia.
The role of Central Asian states as a single political and diplomatic entity, as well as the increasing mutual understanding and solidarity of the countries of the region, was reflected in the Joint Statement of the Presidents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan about the protests and riots in Kyrgyzstan in October 2020. In that joint statement, the heads of other the four Central Asian states expressed the hope that all political parties and public circles in Kyrgyzstan would make the necessary efforts to ensure peace and tranquility and to resolve the problems that had arisen, by adhering to Kyrgyzstan’s constitution and national legislation.
It should be noted that the stability and solidarity of the Central Asian states, firstly, contributes to the well-being of the people, and secondly, increases the investment attractiveness of the region and creates opportunities for cooperation with foreign partners and investors.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s address to Parliament and the State Program for 2021 pays special attention to strengthening good neighborly relations with the Central Asia countries.
The State Program for 2021 – “The Year of Support for Youth and Public Health Promotion” also includes an action plan for the consistent continuation of relations among Central Asian states.
Besides, Uzbekistan is developing ties with the countries of Central Asia through mechanisms of multilateral cooperation, including within the framework of the United Nations (UN), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and other structures by improving not only political and diplomatic relations but also economic, inter-parliamentary, and public diplomacy connections.
Uzbekistan is the only state in the region that borders all the countries of Central Asia. Any changes in the political, economic and cultural spheres of Uzbekistan directly affect other neighboring states. Today’s foreign policy of the country contributes to the sustainable and consistent development of Central Asia, turning the region into a space of cooperation with enormous opportunities.
“Center for Development Strategy”
Head of Division
“Center for Development Strategy”