George Krol: Strong Ties Between the US and Uzbekistan Based on Mutual Interests and Respect Enhance Stability and Prosperity in the Central Asia Region and Beyond
On the eve of the 21th Anniversary of State Independence of Uzbekistan, UzA correspondent talked to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Uzbekistan George Krol.
Soon we will celebrate 21st anniversary of Uzbekistan’s Independence. Could you please share your opinion with us on reforms and changes in Uzbekistan that were carried out during the independence years?
The Republic of Uzbekistan has done much in the short period of 21 years to consolidate its sovereignty and independence, stabilize its economy and establish a forward looking constitution and institutions that embody democratic principles and protect the rights of all citizens. These are clearly ongoing efforts for the people and government of Uzbekistan, requiring political will and the support of all elements of Uzbek society. In the U.S. we are still trying to fulfill the promise of our constitution, which we established over 200 years ago.
2012 was announced by President Karimov as the year of strong family. Please tell us your opinion on the essence and importance of our leader’s initiative and the state program adopted in this matter.
The family is the basis of any society. Strong stable families ensure strong stable states. It is a priority in the United States as well. One can only applaud efforts such as those here in Uzbekistan to ensure conditions are created and maintained for families to remain strong in health, education and economic development. I wish the Uzbek people and government success in fulfilling the forward looking state program. The U.S. stands ready to assist in these efforts as appropriate.
We are celebrating 20th anniversary of US-Uzbek diplomatic relations this year. Please tell us about the present condition and perspectives of mutual cooperation.
Relations between our two countries, between our peoples and governments, are moving dynamically in a positive direction twenty years after we established diplomatic relations. Recently we concluded the latest round of bilateral consultations. The size of the U.S. delegation and the full agenda we discussed reflect the growing engagement between our countries across a wide range of issues covering the political, security, economic and human dimensions of our relationship. We have done a lot already in these areas over these past twenty years, but both sides agree we need to do much more to build up our economic, political, security and human ties to reflect the importance both our countries place on this relationship. Strong ties between the United States and Uzbekistan based on mutual interests and respect enhance stability and prosperity in the Central Asia region and beyond.
What can you tell us about economic cooperation between our countries, for example, about joint projects? What is your opinion about economic zones and conditions created for foreign investors in Uzbekistan?
I see great potential in increasing economic cooperation between our countries. The recently concluded American Business Forum, which over 50 representatives of major U.S. companies attended, reflects the great interest American companies have in Uzbekistan. You have abundant resources, a well educated and motivated population, and a central geographic location with expanding infrastructure. Major American companies such as General Motors have invested in Uzbekistan. We hope others will follow this example and conditions will be established to attract more American investors, but also to expand opportunities for U.S. companies to sell products to Uzbekistan and share technology as Uzbekistan modernizes and develops its economy. The free trade zones could play a major role in this development. Cooperation in the agricultural sector particularly excites me. I see the fertile Ferghana Valley becoming another Central Valley of California, which produces a great variety of U.S. agricultural products for domestic consumption and export. American technology and marketing could help transform your agriculture into the largest food producer in the broader Central Asian region.
We would like to know your opinion about Uzbekistan’s efforts to provide and strengthen peace and stability in the region.
Since independence, Uzbekistan has been a major factor in strengthening peace and security in the region. Your economic support for neighboring Afghanistan, in supplying electricity and building infrastructure projects such as the rail line from Hairaton to Mazar e-sharif has been critical to stabilizing Afghanistan’s economy. Facilitating the transit of supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan has helped the security situation there as well. Uzbekistan has also been on the forefront of the battle against narco trafficking, which threatens regional stability, and your country was the first to call for a nuclear free zone in Central Asia. We also recall how Uzbekistan took in thousands of refugees from neighboring Kyrgyzstan during the troubles there in 2010 and acted responsibly to ensure those events did not spread. The United States wishes to see and facilitate the emergence of a strong, stable, prosperous, democratic and independent Uzbekistan at peace with its neighbors as a critical bulwark for peace and stability in this region, especially in light of Uzbekistan’s central geographic position, large population and influential culture.