The President of Uzbekistan puts forward essential initiatives to further deepen regional interaction between Central Asia and the European Union

    Uzbekistan 2 June 2023 3886

    The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev took part in the Second Summit “Central Asia – European Union” in Cholpon Ata.

    The event, chaired by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, was also attended by the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Nurmukhammet Amannepesov.

    In accordance with the agenda, issues of further developing mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and the European Union, as well as current international and regional problems, were discussed.

    The President of Uzbekistan, in his speech, noted that in the short period after the first meeting of the leaders in Astana, much work had been done to develop a constructive political dialogue and multifaceted partnership.

    In particular, a High-Level Conference on Regional Connectivity was held, at which special attention was paid to promoting projects in digitalization, transport communications, energy, and water resources management, including within the European Global Gateway Strategy framework.

    Several major regional projects have been launched to establish a sustainable energy system in Central Asia and on vocational education.

    The Civil Society Forum, the Second Economic Forum, and the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction Development were successfully held.

    “These events have again demonstrated positive and qualitative changes in our dialogue with the European partners”, the President noted.

    It was emphasized that Central Asia is a center of gravity and space for new economic opportunities for leading European companies and banks.

    “And we here are talking about wider investment and technological partnership aimed at the creation of modern industrial facilities, the introduction of “green” energy, development of “smart” agriculture, formation of an extensive transport and logistics infrastructure”, the Head of State noted.

    Regarding the cooperation of Uzbekistan with the EU countries, the President of Uzbekistan noted that contacts at all levels have significantly enhanced. Meetings were held with France, Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic leaders. Embassies were opened in Budapest and Stockholm. An official visit to Italy will take place next week.

    Due to the GSP+ regime, trade with the EU countries has increased by almost 70 percent since the beginning of the year. The portfolio of promising projects for creating high-tech industries and new jobs with leading European companies and banks has exceeded 20 billion euros.

    In the humanitarian sphere, two unique projects in partnership with the Louvre and the New Museum in Berlin were implemented. The region's most prosperous cultural and historical heritage was presented for the first time.

    As the President noted, despite the complex geopolitical situation and growing negative trends in the global economy, the Central Asian countries are demonstrating steady growth.

    The importance of further support by the European partners for the national development programs and the irreversible reforms strategy was emphasized.

    Given the proposed agenda of the summit, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan highlighted the priority areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.

    To enhance trade relations with the European Union, the Leaders of Uzbekistan noted the interest in establishing sustainable trade and logistics chains and creating practical tools for supporting mutual supplies and extension of the GSP+ trade regime with the extension of this regime to the countries of the region.

    At the same time, it was noted that there was no noticeable progress on several issues, for the solution of which it was proposed to develop a comprehensive program to support exporters and importers of the region’s countries.

    It was emphasized that the early finalization of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Uzbekistan and the European Union would contribute to achieving this objective.

    Forming interlinked transport corridors is a key factor for sustainable economic growth.

    In this regard, it is essential to unite the efforts to develop transport and communication connectivity between Central Asia and Europe, primarily by forming the so-called Middle Corridor – the Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor.

    “Unfortunately, the main problem remains unresolved, which is the lack of a coordinated approach to improve the competitiveness of this route. Today, we need tariffs beneficial for businesses, which generate the main volume of cargo traffic”, the Head of State noted.

    Not less important are the issues of developing transport, logistics, and port infrastructure in line with the estimated growth in cargo traffic, as well as the improvement of the technical condition of the roads and creating an effective mechanism for using the potential of the Trans-Caspian Corridor through regular meetings of executives from transport agencies.

    In the investment and technological partnership, the President of Uzbekistan proposed to consider the issue of holding annual industrial and technological exhibitions within the framework of the “Central Asia – European Union” Economic Forum.

    Considering the current realities, it was proposed to launch, together with the European Investment Bank, special financial support tools for relocating capacities of leading European companies to Central Asian countries.

    In digital connectivity, an initiative was launched to develop a joint “Digital Agenda for Central Asia” with the involvement of the “Team Europe” mechanism.

    The President of Uzbekistan dwelled separately on countering climate change and improving the sustainability of ecosystems by implementing targeted regional projects using advanced European knowledge and technologies.

    “Taking into account the urgency of the problem, we invite the European Union to co-host the First International Climate Forum to be held this autumn as part of the Samarkand Solidarity Initiative for Common Security and Prosperity”, the President offered.

    An interest was expressed in the active involvement of partners in a project to establish the Central Asian University of Environmental Studies and Climate Change.

    To actively use the tourism potential of Central Asia, the President of Uzbekistan put forward an initiative to jointly develop a program to promote the development of sustainable tourism for the region and present it at the anniversary session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization, which will be held in October this year in Uzbekistan.

    Considering the importance of investing in the education of young people, the President proposed establishing partnerships with leading universities of the EU countries and introducing joint educational programs.

    The Leader of Uzbekistan also called for the resumption of regular meetings of ministers of education and rectors of universities, expanding support for research and educational projects for the Central Asian region within the Horizon Europe Program.

    As the President emphasized, the most important area of interaction is the strengthening of cooperation in the fight against new challenges and security threats, the development of partnership programs in combating extremism and radicalism, human trafficking, organized and cybercrime, as well as border protection.

    “To this end, we propose to hold an expert-level conference “Central Asia – European Union: A New Agenda for Security Cooperation”, the President noted.

    Special attention was paid to the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, in connection with which the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan called on partners not to reduce the volume of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and expressed his readiness to provide the infrastructure of the logistics hub in Termez for these purposes.

    It was also proposed to continue regular consultations with special representatives for Afghanistan to develop common approaches to resolve the situation in Afghanistan and its peaceful development.

    Following his speech, the President of Uzbekistan noted the expediency of developing and adopting a separate Road Map based on the meeting results.

    The President of Uzbekistan also expressed gratitude for the initiative’s support to hold the first official summit in the “Central Asia – EU” format in Uzbekistan next year.

    Following the heads of state meeting, a Joint Press Communiqué was adopted.