The President of Uzbekistan proposed major initiatives to strengthen regional cooperation between Central Asia and the European Union

18:22 02 June 2023 Politcs
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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attended the second meeting of Heads of Central Asian States and the President of the European Council in Cholpon-Ata city.

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov chaired the event, where President of the European Council Charles Michel, President of Kazakhstan Republic Kasim-Jomart Takayev, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahman and Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Nurmukhamed Amannepesov also took part.

The agenda included discussions on the further development of mutually beneficial cooperation between Central Asian countries and the European Union, as well as on current international and regional problems.

The head of Uzbekistan noted in his speech that a lot of work has been done to promote constructive political dialogue and multifaceted partnership in the short period since the first meeting of the leaders in Astana.

Particularly, it included a high-level conference on inter-regional connectivity, which focused on promoting projects in the areas of digitalisation, transport connectivity, energy and water management, including within the framework of the European Global Gateway strategy.

A number of important regional projects in the field of sustainable energy system and vocational education have been launched in Central Asia.

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

"These events have once again proved that our dialogue with European partners is changing qualitatively and positively," the President said.

It was noted that Central Asia is now a centre of attraction and a space of new economic opportunities for leading European companies and banks.

- Here we are talking about a broad investment and technological partnership aimed at creating modern industrial facilities, introducing green energy, developing smart agriculture, and building an advanced transport and logistics infrastructure," the head of our state emphasized.

Referring to Uzbekistan's cooperation with the European Union, President pointed to the notable intensification of communications at all levels. In particular, meetings were held with leaders of France, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Embassies in Budapest and Stockholm have been opened. An official visit to Italy is expected in the near future.

Since the beginning of the year, trade with the European Union has increased by almost 70 percent thanks to the GSP+ regime. The portfolio of promising projects for high-tech production and new jobs with leading European companies and banks has exceeded 20 billion euros.

In the humanitarian sphere, two unique projects have been implemented in cooperation with the Louvre in Paris and the New Museum in Berlin. The rich cultural and historical heritage of our region was presented at these art centres for the first time.

As the President of Uzbekistan emphasized, the countries of Central Asia are demonstrating sustainable growth despite the difficult geopolitical situation and negative trends in the global economy.

In this regard, it was noted the importance for European partners to continue supporting national development programmes and a strategy of irreversible reforms.

Taking into account the summit's agenda, the President of Uzbekistan has outlined priority areas for mutually beneficial cooperation.

In order to expand trade relations with the European Union cardinally, the leader of Uzbekistan expressed interest in creating effective mechanisms of supporting stable trade-logistic chains and mutual supplies of goods, extending the GSP+ trade regime and applying this system to all countries of the region.

It was also pointed out that there was little noticeable progress on a number of issues. As a solution it was proposed to develop a comprehensive program to support exporters and importers of the countries from region.

Moreover, it was emphasized that this will also be facilitated by the speedy completion of the process of adopting the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Uzbekistan and the EU.

A key factor for sustainable economic growth is the formation of efficient transport corridors.

Therefore, it is important to channel efforts to develop transport and communication connectivity between Central Asia and Europe, primarily through the formation of the so-called Middle Route - the Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor.

"Unfortunately, there is still no coordinated approach to improve the competitiveness of this highway. Today we need tariffs that are profitable for business, which forms the main volume of freight traffic," said the head of state.

Transport-logistic and port infrastructures expansions, improvement of technical condition of road surfaces, as well as creation of effective mechanism for utilization of the Trans-Caspian corridor through regular meetings of authorized representatives of transport agencies are also noted as important.

Concerning investment and technological partnership, the President of Uzbekistan has proposed to consider holding annual industrial and technological exhibitions within the framework of the Central Asia-European Union Economic Forum.

It was also proposed to launch, together with the European Investment Bank, special instruments of financial support leading European companies in relocating their production facilities in the countries of Central Asia.

Concerning digital connectivity, it was proposed to develop a "Digital Agenda for Central Asia" using the "Europe Team" mechanism.

The head of our state focused on combating climate change and increasing the resilience of ecosystems through targeted regional projects using advanced European knowledge and technology.

"Given the urgency of the issue, we invite the European Union to co-host the first International Climate Forum to be held this autumn as part of the Samarkand Initiative for Shared Security and Prosperity," the president said.

Interest was also expressed in the active participation in the project to create the Central Asian University for the Study of the Environment and Climate Change.

In order to use the tourism potential of Central Asia actively, the head of our state proposed to jointly elaborate a programme to support the development of sustainable tourism in the region and present it at the anniversary summit of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization, which will be held this October in Uzbekistan.

Given the importance of investing in the education of young people, the President has suggested establishing partnerships with leading higher education institutions in the European Union and introducing joint educational programmes.

Our leader also spoke about resumption of regular meetings of ministers and rectors of universities, expanding support for research and educational projects for the Central Asian region within the "Horizon Europe" Program.

As noted by President, the most important areas of cooperation are the strengthening of co-operation in combating new challenges and threats to security, the development of partnership programmes in the area of combating extremism and radicalism, human trafficking, organised and cybercrime, as well as border security.

"With this purpose we suggest to hold expert conference entitled: "Central Asia - the European Union: a new agenda for cooperation in the field of security," the head of state said.

Special attention was drawn to the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, where Uzbek President urged partners not to reduce the volume of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and expressed readiness to provide the infrastructure of the logistics hub in Termez for this purpose.

It was also proposed to continue regular consultations of the Special Representatives for Afghanistan in order to develop common approaches to solving urgent issues related to the settlement of the situation and peaceful development of this country.

At the end of his speech, the Head of State noted that it would be expedient to develop and adopt a separate roadmap based on the results of the meeting.

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

The Heads of State concluded the meeting with a joint press communiqué.





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