Uzbekistan’s New President Pays Historic State Visit to Kazakhstan
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed relations between the neighbouring states during Mirziyoyev’s March 22 to 23 state visit to Kazakhstan, his first to Astana as Uzbekistan’s president.
During talks at the Akorda presidential residence March 23, Nazarbayev pointed out the dramatic increase in trade between the countries. The first Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan business forum, to be held the same day, was expected to attract more than 500 entrepreneurs and result in 75 contracts totalling $1 billion.
Mirziyoyev said Kazakhstan’s election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council had raised the profile of their bilateral relations and regional cooperation in general.
“I would like to assure you that Uzbekistan will support all your activities. Much attention is now being paid to the regional cooperation. I hope that today’s meetings will serve as a foundation for further effective cooperation between our countries,” he said.
The leaders inked a number of agreements, including a joint declaration to deepen the strategic partnership and strengthen good-neighbourliness and an agreement between the governments on interregional cooperation and joint economic cooperation for 2017 to 2019. They also signed protocols on amending the governments’ agreement on prevention of double taxation of income and property and another on international automobile travel dated March 20, 2006.
Cooperation programmes between the two countries’ foreign ministries and defence ministries were also signed.
After their official talks, Nazarbayev and Mirziyoyev visited Astana Opera House and Nazarbayev University, then took part in the opening ceremony of the MEGA Silk Way shopping centre and visited the EXPO 2017 construction site.
Prior to his visit, Mirziyoyev spoke with the Kazinform international information agency about his country’s relations with Kazakhstan, noting that one of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy priorities is to strengthen ties with its neighbours.
“We all understand that Central Asia is a single organism that for centuries had a common geographical, economic and cultural space. No country can individually solve the questions that concern all residents of the region. Those, for example, are the issues of delimitation and demarcation of state borders, transport communications, ecology and rational and equitable use of water resources,” he told Kazinform.
Mirziyoyev stressed the need for cooperation in managing regional water resources in the face of climate change and rising consumption.
“Central Asia has always depended heavily on water resources. … Today, if we do not save each drop of water together, it will be a crime against future generations,” he said. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan support developing a united strategy and adopting international legal norms for water use, the president noted.
Both Astana and Tashkent are concerned about global and Central Asiansecurity, the Uzbek president pointed out, saying he appreciates Kazakhstan’s work to support regional stability, particularly the establishment of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the country’s work to develop multilateral cooperation in other areas.
“I think that the upcoming meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Astana in June and Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in this multilateral organisation are of great importance for increasing its effectiveness in combating transnational threats and strengthening peace and stability in our region,” he noted.
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan know that economic development supports security, Mirziyoyev said. Therefore measures to ensure sustainable economic growth, free entrepreneurship and increased well-being must be seen as relating to efforts to combat terrorism and radicalism.
Mirziyoyev also said his country and Kazakhstan were both keenly interested in early stabilisation of Afghanistan, which shares a border with Uzbekistan.