The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev participated in the second «European Union - Central Asia» Summit in Cholpon Ata.
The event, chaired by the Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, was attended by the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Nurmuhammed Amannepesov.
The agenda included discussions on the further development of mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and the European Union, as well as topical international and regional issues.
In his speech, the Uzbek Leader noted that in the short period since the first meeting in Astana, a great deal of work has been carried out to develop a constructive political dialogue and multifaceted partnership.
In particular, a high-level conference on interregional interconnectivity took place, which paid special attention to the promotion of projects in the areas of digitalization, transport communications, energy and water resources management, including within the framework of the European Global Gateway Strategy.
A number of important regional projects were launched in the areas of vocational training and sustainable energy 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 demonstrated positive and qualitative changes in the dialogue with our European partners», the President stressed.
It was emphasized that Central Asia today is a center of attraction and a space of new economic opportunities for leading European companies and banks.
«We are already talking about a wide range of investment and technological partnership aimed at the creation of modern industrial facilities, the introduction of green energy, the development of «smart» agriculture, the formation of a comprehensive transport and logistics infrastructure», the President said.
Speaking about Uzbekistan’s cooperation with the countries of the European Union, our President noted the remarkable intensification of contacts at all levels. In particular, meetings were held with the Leaders of France, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Embassies have been opened in Budapest and Stockholm. An official visit to Italy will take place in the near future.
Thanks to the GSP+ programs, the trade turnover with the EU has increased by almost 70% since the beginning of this year. The portfolio of promising projects to create high-tech industries 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 partnership with the Louvre and the Neues Museum in Berlin, where the richest cultural and historical heritage of our region has been presented on a grand scale for the first time.
As the President of Uzbekistan pointed out, despite the difficult geopolitical situation and negative trends in the global economy, the countries of Central Asia are experiencing sustainable growth.
In this context, the importance of further support from European partners for national development programs and the strategy of irreversible reforms was noted.
With regard to the agenda of the Summit, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan outlined the priority directions of mutually beneficial cooperation.
With a view to the cardinal expansion of trade relations with the European Union, the Uzbek Leader noted the interest in the creation of sustainable trade and logistics chains and effective support mechanisms for mutual supplies, the extension of the GSP+ tariff with its coverage of the entire region.
However, the lack of significant progress on a number of issues was noted, and a comprehensive program of support for exporting and importing companies in the countries of the region was proposed to address them.
It is emphasized that the early conclusion of the Uzbek-EU Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will also facilitate this process.
A key factor for sustainable economic growth is the creation of effective transport corridors.
In this regard, it is important to unite efforts to develop transport and communication links 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 improving the competitiveness of this highway. Today, we need tariffs that are favorable to the companies that generate the main volumes of cargo flows”, the President noted.
It is equally important to develop transport, logistics and port infrastructure, improve the technical condition of the road and create an effective mechanism for using the potential of the Trans-Caspian corridor through regular meetings of authorized representatives of transport agencies.
In the field of investment and technological partnership, the President of Uzbekistan proposed to consider holding annual industrial and technological exhibitions within the framework of the «Central Asia - the European Union» Economic Forum.
Given the current situation, it was also suggested to create, together with the European Investment Bank, special financial support instruments for the creation of production capacities for the leading European companies in the Central Asian countries.
In the field of digital interconnectivity, an initiative was put forward to develop a joint «Digital Agenda for Central Asia» with the involvement of the «Team Europe» mechanism.
Separately, the President focused on combating climate change and improving the sustainability of ecosystems through targeted regional projects using advanced European knowledge and technologies.
«Given 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 the Sake of Common Security and Prosperity», the President proposed.
An interest was also expressed in the active participation of partners in the project for the creation of a Central Asian University for the Study of Environment and Climate Change.
With the aim of actively using the tourism potential of Central Asia, the President proposed an initiative to jointly develop a program for the promotion of sustainable tourism in the region and to present the program at the Jubilee Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization, to be held in Uzbekistan this year.
Stressing the importance of investing in youth education, the President suggested establishing a partnership with the leading universities of the European Union and introducing joint educational programs.
The Head of our country also advocated the resumption of regular meetings between ministers of education and university rectors, expansion of support for research and education projects for the Central Asian region within the Horizon Europe program.
As the President stressed, the most important area of interaction is the strengthening of cooperation in the fight against new challenges and threats to security, the development of partnership programs in the fight against extremism and radicalism, human trafficking, organized crime, and cybercrime, as well as border security.
«To this end, we propose to hold an expert conference on «Central Asia - the European Union: A New Agenda for Security Cooperation», the President stated.
A particular attention was paid to the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, in connection with which the President of Uzbekistan urged the partners not to reduce the volume of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and expressed his readiness to provide the infrastructure of the logistics hub in Termez for this purpose.
It was also proposed to continue regular consultations with the Special Representatives on Afghanistan in order to develop common approaches to current issues of settlement and peaceful development of the country.
In conclusion, the President noted the possibility of developing and adopting a separate «road map» based on the results of the meeting.
The President of Uzbekistan also expressed his gratitude for the support of the initiative to hold the first official EU-Central Asia Summit in Uzbekistan next year.
A joint press communiqué was adopted following the Heads of State meeting.