On April 22-23 this year the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov paid an official visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The visit of the Uzbek Leader to Astana began with a welcoming ceremony in Akorda, the official residence of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev. Islam Karimov and Nursultan Nazarbaev in the company of both delegations and numerous reporters and journalists listened to the national anthems. Then the two presidents observed the honorable guard lined up in honor of the incoming high-level guest.
Following the official part of welcome to the Uzbek Leader in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana, the two presidents retreated for their tête-à-tête where they have exchanged views on the current state and prospects of bilateral relations. They have also dwelled on the issues of cooperation in the framework of international bodies – the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the problems of regional security and other issues of mutual interest.
“This visit is a good opportunity to discuss cooperation and issues of regional security,” – President Islam Karimov has said, “Uzbekistan highly assesses the cooperation with Kazakhstan and accords a particular significance to the relations with this country which is our important and big partner in the Central Asian region”.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev has cordially welcomed his Uzbek colleague. He has said that Kazakhstan manifests solidarity with Uzbekistan in what President Islam Karimov has said about the relations between the two neighboring states.
The ties of the Uzbek and Kazakh nations have deep roots. The two people enjoy the common literary heritage, traditions and customs, similar history and culture, as well as the common language and religion. The relations between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are predicated on such principles as good neighborliness, friendship and brotherhood, mutual trust and respect.
In the 2006 Tashkent Summit both leaders signed the Joint Communiqué. The document envisaged the establishment of an Interstate coordination council under patronage of presidents. That body promotes quick resolution of outstanding issues vis-à-vis the relations between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
In the Akorda talks in Astana Islam Karimov and Nursultan Nazarbaev have pinpointed the very fact that Uzbekistan’s and Kazakhstan’s potential in terms of bilateral relations have not been fully tapped yet. The regular high-level meetings unveil the unclaimed frontiers of cooperation and create a fine opportunity to consider the perspective plans. From that point of view the April 22-23 talks in Astana are important.
The two presidents stand unanimous in terms of providing for security. They acknowledge the very need to undertake a concerted work to prevent such threats as terrorism, extremism, drug and arms trafficking, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
In this respect, it is worth mentioning that the idea put forward by Islam Karimov to establish the nuclear-free zone in Central Asia has been unanimously supported by the countries in the region and successfully implemented.
Besides, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan cooperate well both on bilateral and multilateral levels in the sphere of information, energy and ecological security. In particular, the sides jointly combat the plant pests and plant diseases in farming practices.
“In overcoming the challenges and countering threats given the particular reasons Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are laid with a special responsibility,” – Islam Karimov has said, while touching on the issues of regional security, “Uzbekistan has always stood for the close cooperation with the countries in the region and firstly with Kazakhstan in terms of consolidating stability and security”.
According to the Uzbek Leader, the restoration of peace in Afghanistan is the most important factor of strengthening security and stability in Central Asia. In this context, it would be expedient to resume the negotiations on Afghanistan in the framework of the Contact Group “6+2” which operated in 1997 through 2001 under aegis of the United Nations. In the April 2-4 NATO/EAPC Bucharest Summit President Islam Karimov put forward such proposal and called on the North Atlantic Alliance to partake in this Group.
“Uzbekistan stands for the development of ties with Kazakhstan in the framework of international bodies, as well,” – the Uzbek Leader has said, “the coordination of regional policies of the two countries is important which would be promoted by regular consultations between the foreign policy institutions”.
Following the extensive tête-à-tête between the two leaders they have been joined by the rest of delegation ministers to continue talks at the roundtable level with a special emphasis to have been given to cooperation in the trade, economic, and humanitarian areas.
The economic ties between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are regulated by the Free Trade Agreement inked in 1997. The trade between the two countries sees its rise. In particular, in 2006 the trade rose by 39.1%. In 2007 it grew by 63.3% and accounted for 1 billion 193.3 million US dollars. That is to say, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan for the first time have surpassed a billion-dollar indicator. In this, Uzbekistan’s positive balance made up 129.5 million dollars.
While touching on the trade and economic cooperation President Islam Karimov has suggested to reconsider the list of goods being exported and imported by either side in terms of promoting trade.
The natural resources are also an integral part of cooperation. The sides are equally interested in addressing such issues as transportation of oil and gas.
The transport communications of both countries allow to maximize profits from transboundary transit. It is important to better the use of motor and railroads, as well as concertedly continue the gradual work in terms of ensuring the free and speedy transportation of export and import and other transit goods. In this respect, Islam Karimov proposed to increase the preferences.
Earlier the two countries have adopted the Economic cooperation program for 2006-2010 and Economic cooperation strategy for 2007-2016.
The joint ventures play an important role in expanding the scale of economic cooperation. At the moment, 167 companies with participation of Kazakhstan capital are operating in Uzbekistan. 54 firms and companies, including the Kazakhstan Development Bank, have established offices in Uzbekistan. At the same time, the reports suggest that 94 ventures launched in cooperation with the Uzbek investors are now operating in Kazakhstan.
The talks in Astana have revealed that such indicators did not correspond to the economic, scientific, technical, and intellectual potential of both countries.
The scientific and economic potential of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan also open up good opportunities to effectively use the water resources. In Astana President Islam Karimov proposed to conduct mutually concurrent policies to prevent the worsening of water supply to the countries in the region.
The two nations also develop the cultural and humanitarian ties, including in the sphere of science, education, culture and arts, healthcare, tourism and sports. Scientific establishments are reported to have established ties in terms of teacher and student exchanges, as well as scientific and methodological data sharing.
In the talks the sides have examined the course of implementation of the Cultural and humanitarian cooperation program for 2006-2008.
Following the delegation-level negotiations Islam Karimov and Nursultan Nazarbaev spoke to reporters and journalists. They said that they have had constructive talks in the spirit of openness and understanding. Presidents have also emphasized that the Astana Summit testified to the gradual development of the Uzbek-Kazakhstan relations as much as the community of aspirations in further intensifying them.
Earlier the mass media reported on establishment of the Union of Central Asian States. Dwelling on that issue President Islam Karimov has said in particular:
“Each country defines its attitude towards this issue proceeding from its own national interests and expression of will of its people. For Uzbekistan this initiative is not acceptable. Once again I categorically declare about this. From among the states, especially the countries that have come out from an old regime, and particularly, between the countries of Central Asia, to establish the union, firstly, it is necessary that the level of their economic and social development should match, and secondly, their course on economic and political development, as well as accomplishment of reforms should be similar. From this point of view I think that yet it is early to speak about establishment of any union in our region. Moreover, we have gone through it. First, the Central Asian Economic Community was established and then the “Central Asian Cooperation” Organization was created on its basis. Finally, that structure has united with the Eurasian Economic Community”.
The Uzbek Leader has said that the sides have agreed on establishing the special task force to elaborate the document on free trade zone to increase trade.
“The establishment of special working group on the initiative of the Uzbek side to elaborate the document on free trade zone is yet another step on the way to extend cooperation,” – President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan has said.
On the second day of his official stay in Astana – April 23 – the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov accompanied by his colleague Nursultan Nazarbaev visited the MEGA Trading Center in Kazakhstan’s capital. That newly built Center intakes various shops, areas for bowling and table tennis, as well as the movie theater.
Also, in the company of his counterpart the Uzbek Leader visited the Neurosurgery Center in Astana. President Islam Karimov learned about the conditions created at the Center both for patients and doctors, as well as promotion of labor of medical personnel. He has said that a number of specialized medical centers have been created in Uzbekistan. In that respect, he has emphasized that the expansion of scale of cooperation in this area and exchange of experience meets the interests of both sides.
Thus, on April 23 the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov concluded his official two-day visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan. The outcomes of this visit are important not only for the development of relations between the two countries, but also for the consolidation of security and stability in Central Asia, expansion of political, economic and humanitarian ties.
The local public in Kazakhstan is reported to have manifested a keen interest to the Uzbek Leader’s visit to Astana. The mass media have extensively covered the visit. Particularly, the Egemen Kazakstan and Express-Kazakhstan newspapers wrote that the visit was fruitful and effective and the presidents discussed a score of outstanding issues relating to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Ikboljon Soliev for the Information Agency “Jahon” based on the reports by national newspapers. Photo by Uzbekistan National News Agency