Uzbekistan and the EU are promising partners
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) – On 24 September 2020, a video conference was held on the topic "Policy of good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation in Central Asia: prospects for cooperation between Uzbekistan and the EU." The event was organized by ISMI in cooperation with one of the leading analytical structures in Europe - the Latvian Institute of International Relations.
The participants in the dialogue exchanged views on the current state and prospects for the development of Uzbek-Latvian relations, regional cooperation in Central Asia and interaction with the EU in achieving sustainable development of the region.
Speaking at the conference, A. Nematov, First Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, noted that thanks to the new proactive and open foreign policy course of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the policy of economic modernization and democratic reforms, relations with both the European Union and with individual European countries reached a qualitatively new level of dynamic development.
At the same time, according to the representative of the ISMI, a comprehensive deepening and expansion of multifaceted cooperation with the European Union is defined by the Head of Uzbekistan as one of the priorities of the country’s foreign policy, and the key areas are the further development of political, trade, economic, investment, transport, communication and cultural and humanitarian connections. According to A. Nematov, Latvia, being a long-term and reliable partner of Uzbekistan, plays an important role in building mutually beneficial relations with the EU.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Uzbekistan to Latvia K. Sultanov stressed that today an active political dialogue is being maintained between the countries, inter-parliamentary ties are developing, mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres is expanding. In support of his words, the diplomat pointed to a significant increase in mutual trade from US$295 million in 2017 to US$374 million in 2019, that is, by 22%.
At the same time, as the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Latvia said, due to objective reasons related to the pandemic, in the first half of 2020, bilateral trade underwent a slight decrease. In this regard, K. Sultanov called for the unification of joint efforts and the development of effective solutions to overcome the negative consequences of the coronavirus crisis, to intensify trade and economic cooperation in the new conditions.
The achievement of such goals, A. Nematov noted, will be facilitated by the full disclosure of the potential of Uzbek-European cooperation in the field of transport and transit traffic. The importance of filling with practical content the EU Strategy on the Interconnection of Europe and Asia was emphasized. It was proposed to jointly promote regional projects and programs designed to strengthen the role of Central Asia as a connecting bridge between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
In this context, the participants in the dialogue welcomed the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan, put forward at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, to establish a Regional Center for the Development of Transport and Communication Connectivity. It was noted that its implementation will increase the efficiency of transport and transit interaction in Central Asia, which, with its rich human and resource potential, can satisfy the demand for alternative chains of production and supply of competitive goods to world markets.
According to A. Nematov, a completely new atmosphere of good-neighborliness, mutual trust and cooperation in Central Asia opens up wide opportunities for combining the efforts of the Central Asian countries and the EU in the implementation of these strategic tasks.
Supporting the words of his Uzbek colleague, director of the Latvian Institute of International Relations A. Spruds stressed that the transport sector is one of the promising areas of bilateral cooperation. In his words, due to its strategic location, Uzbekistan can provide EU countries with transport corridors to the markets of South Asia and the Middle East, while Latvian ports serve as the northern gates of Europe. In this regard, the Latvian expert pointed out the importance of the earliest implementation of the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan to develop regional connectivity, as a necessary condition for increasing the competitiveness of existing transport corridors and wider use of the existing transit potential of Eurasia.
One of the central places on the agenda of the meeting was also occupied by the development of interaction in the field of mitigating the effects of climate change and environmental protection. As the director of the Information and Analytical Center for International Relations D. Kurbanov emphasized, climate change is the most serious challenge for mankind, gives rise to problems of water, food and land degradation shortages, and undermines the natural foundations of human life.
In this regard, he called on the Latvian partners to support the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan on the adoption of a special resolution of the UN General Assembly on declaring the Aral Sea region a zone of environmental innovations and technologies. In his words, this document can serve as a basis for combining common efforts of the EU and Central Asia in attracting investments in the development and implementation of the principles of a "green" economy to mitigate the negative consequences of the Aral Sea disaster.
The urgency of this initiative was also emphasized by the expert of the Latvian Institute of International Relations M.Andjans. In his opinion, the EU’s Green Central Asia program, which is an integral part of the EU’s New Strategy for the Central Asian countries, will ensure the practical implementation of the Uzbek leader’s idea of turning the Aral Sea region into a place of prosperity and sustainable development.
The head of the ISMI Center B. Mustafayev pointed out the importance of combining the efforts of Central Asia and the EU in order to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan as soon as possible, ensure peace and economic recovery in this country. He drew attention to the relevance of the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan to create a permanent committee at the UN to coordinate the efforts of the world community in the issue of the early establishment of peace in the IRA. According to B. Mustafayev, this mechanism will further consolidate the efforts of the international community to support the continuity and progress of the peace process in Afghanistan, and restore the peaceful economy of this country.
Commenting on the policy of Uzbekistan in the Afghan direction, expert of the Latvian Institute of International Relations A. Bikovs noted that the measures taken by Tashkent to improve the socio-economic situation and achieve a lasting peace on Afghan soil are fully consistent with the objectives of the EU Strategy for Afghanistan, which can serve as a basis for mutually beneficial cooperation in this area.
In general, the virtual meeting, held in a constructive atmosphere, allowed the participants of the event to exchange views and develop common visions of the prospects for the further development of mutually beneficial Uzbek-European cooperation in the fields of security, trade, transport, green economy, digitalization and education.