“Effective bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is an important factor for stability, security and sustainable development of the Central Asian region”
The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave an interview to Uzbekistan National News Agency – UzA on the results achieved, the current state and prospects for development of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
– Thanks to the First President of Kazakhstan – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, relations between our countries have reached a new level. What are common goals and objectives facing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan today?
– From the first days of independence, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan go hand in hand, supporting each other in difficult moments and sincerely rejoicing in success. We have built strong and harmonious relations, which are based on a single goal – the prosperity of the two countries.
The leading role in strengthening the strategic partnership between our countries was played by the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev and the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev.
The leader of the nation invariably pays special attention to the development of relations with closest neighbors, therefore your country is included in the category of priority areas of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. We will continue the course of further rapprochement of our peoples.
Currently, the main tasks are the expansion of trade-economic ties and deepening cross-border cooperation. Our countries have enormous opportunities in these areas. The two governments have set a goal – to increase the trade turnover to 5 billion USD by 2020.
The existing examples of productive and growing cooperation in the investment sphere, industrial cooperation, development of joint production meet our mutual desire to deepen economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Great prospects for partnership are seen in transit and transport area. For Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which do not have access to the sea, the priority tasks are the improvement of transit infrastructure and development of transport cooperation with other countries.
An indicator of mutual trust is also the fact that Nur-Sultan and Tashkent consistently strengthen security cooperation. We face common regional problems: terrorism, religious extremism, illegal arms trade, organized crime, illegal migration and drug trafficking. The situation in Afghanistan, which increases security risks of our region, is also of serious concern.
All this requires us to take systematic, coordinated, proactive measures. Therefore, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are already establishing links between law enforcement agencies and special services of the two countries.
Cooperation on water issues is also of particular importance. It is gratifying that we regularly hold working groups’ meetings in all areas of water relations, including in close coordination with other partners in the region.
Traditionally, we pay special attention to further strengthening cultural-humanitarian contacts, which is positively perceived by our peoples.
It is significant that there are practically no issues between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that could not be resolved through constructive dialogue. Relations between our countries are a successful and effective model of bilateral cooperation, which is an important factor for stability, security and sustainable development of the entire Central Asian region.
In my opinion, consonance of the goals and objectives of Nur-Sultan and Tashkent will serve as a powerful incentive for further strengthening our large-scale cooperation.
– It is known that Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev have warm friendly relations. And how are Your contacts with the Head of Uzbekistan developing?
– Shavkat Miromonovich is one of the first heads of state who congratulated me on assuming the office of President of Kazakhstan. I am sincerely grateful to him for the kind words. As evidence of deep respect of the Uzbek leader for our country, I also consider the good wishes addressed to our Elbasy.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed the historic mission of implementing large-scale reforms in Uzbekistan and turning your country into a modern, internationally competitive state. His firm commitment to the consistent improvement of the public administration system, the liberalization of the economy and the financial sector, the modernization of all spheres in Uzbekistan is of genuine interest and sincere respect.
Shavkat Miromonovich devotes all his energy, knowledge and experience to the achievement of the goals set, I became personally convinced in this during our meetings.
A very detailed conversation took place in 2017, when I headed the delegation of the Senate of Kazakhstan’s Parliament on a visit to Tashkent. I am personally very impressed with the strategic approach of the Head of Uzbekistan to all key areas of the country’s development, his deep understanding of the situation in the region and the world. We have with him a common vision on all issues of bilateral development, which is absolutely important.
I am convinced that the trusting and regular contacts that have developed between us will further deepen the fraternal Kazakhstan – Uzbekistan relations.
– What results can be announced today following the Year of Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan?
– The decision on holding this landmark event has become a bright page in bilateral relations. The Year of Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan was held at a very high level. In our country, more than 200 events that contributed to the expansion and strengthening of contacts between people, institutions of science, culture, education, and business structures were organized.
The first forum of interregional cooperation of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was successfully held. Following the forum, important documents were signed, providing for further development of interregional relations between the two countries.
I am confident that this format of cooperation will become an important factor in the growth of interaction between border areas, will accelerate the entry of business into the markets of our states, and will significantly enhance bilateral trade. Over the past year, the trade turnover between our countries increased by about 50 percent and amounted to 3 billion dollars.
I want to emphasize that mutual rapprochement of the two states is perceived by the peoples with great enthusiasm. Therefore, it is very symbolic that my first state visit to a brotherly country coincided with the opening of the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan.
– What do you expect from the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan?
– First of all, we hope for a wide response and involvement of Uzbekistan people in the events of the Year of Kazakhstan. It is important for us that every citizen of Uzbekistan finds something of his own in this grand event and will forever retain a part of Kazakhstan in his heart. Therefore, we have tried to make the program of the Year of Kazakhstan as diverse and rich as possible.
If business forums and conferences are especially interesting to businessmen and politicians, then educational exhibitions are provided for students. In addition, it is planned to hold many cultural, sports and tourism events.
The geographical coverage of the Year of Kazakhstan is of particular importance. Events will be held in all regions of Uzbekistan. Thus, we hope to strengthen interregional cooperation and human contacts.
Systematic work will be continued on already announced initiatives and projects in trade, cross-border cooperation, tourism, transport and culture.
We are also determined to complete the modernization of our checkpoints, which will significantly reduce the time for crossing the state border. Our goal remains the formation of a modern border and customs infrastructure. It is necessary for ordinary citizens, business, in addition, such work will contribute to strengthening the tourism potential of our countries.
In a word, we are ready to continue work in all areas of economic, socio-humanitarian cooperation with Uzbekistan.
All this will allow building new bridges of mutual understanding and cooperation. As the Uzbek proverb says: “Close neighbor – soul neighbor”. I am absolutely convinced that the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan will serve to strengthen the centuries-old bonds of friendship and good neighborliness between our peoples.
– Political scientists have been writing about the factor of Central Asia since the 1990s. Suffice it to recall the works of Brzezinski and others. But none of the critical forecasts came true. How do you see Central Asia in world politics?
– Indeed, since independence, many experts and observers predicted a predominantly negative development scenario for Central Asia. We were predicted to disintegrate, an uncontrolled increase in the terrorist threat, becoming a kind of “caliphate”, internal conflicts, economic and social collapse.
However, the forecasts of the Balkanization of Central Asia have not been realized. During the years of sovereign development, verified steps and decisions of each of the Central Asian states allowed maintaining stability in the region and, equally important, laying a solid foundation for long-term progressive development.
Today, Central Asia is experiencing a new stage of its formation. There is a tendency to strengthen interstate cooperation, a real search for mutually acceptable solutions across the entire spectrum of current issues. For this there is the main thing – the political will of all the leaders of our region, the readiness to develop cooperation based on the principles of good neighborliness and mutual interest.
In March 2018, the first consultative meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia was held in the capital of Kazakhstan. Without exaggeration, we can say that this event has become a new stage in regional cooperation. During the meeting, the basic priorities of the five-sided cooperation were identified and plans for the future were outlined. There has been a significant increase in the level of political dialogue between the Central Asian countries, and the proximity or coincidence of positions on most issues on the intraregional and international agenda has been confirmed.
The new dynamics of cooperation is already bearing fruit. In Central Asia, trade turnover has noticeably increased, air, road and rail routes are being opened, checkpoints are being modernized, infrastructure projects are being implemented. Intraregional economic relations are being strengthened, boundaries are being coordinated, water resource management and environmental issues are being jointly addressed.
The trends of regionalization and cooperation are an integral part of the modern world development. Even large and self-sufficient countries are building close interaction with their partners.
As world experience shows, it is vital for small and medium-sized states to create effective cooperation platforms and expand cooperation, without which long-term and sustainable development is impossible.
At the same time, it is impossible to interpret the natural convergence of our countries in line with any “bloc mentality”. The current positive process in Central Asia is not only beneficial for us, but also in the interests of the region’s traditional partners. Kazakhstan is open to all forms of cooperation with all interested countries.