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Uzbekistan-EU: State of the Progress

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On 20th February, at an event celebrating the state of progress in Uzbekistan - EU relations, the Ambassador of Uzbekistan made the following speech:

Dear guests, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear participants of our event,

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome you.

I am very glad to see here the distinguished representatives of the European External Action Service, the European Commission, the European Council, the media, and all our friends. Special thanks to the distinguished Ambassadors of the EU Member States and their representatives.

I am glad to welcome my good friend, Luc Devigne, Deputy Managing Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the EEAS.

It is very unique that at this event I am joined by my colleagues, Ambassadors of Uzbekistan to Austria - Mr. Abat Faizullaev, to Germany -
Mr. Nabijon Kasimov, to France - Mr. Sardor Rustambaev and to Italy - Mr. Otabek Akbarov, are also present here tonight.

My special thanks also for the presence of the Ambassadors of our brotherly Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and Azerbaijan.

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Our today’s event is dedicated to the state of the progress made in the relations between Uzbekistan and the European Union.

During the last years, under the leadership of the President H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev we are building New Uzbekistan which regards the EU as one of its key international partner and attaches particular importance to the further development of mutually beneficial cooperation on a whole range of issues.

It is worth to mention that Uzbekistan is undergoing tremendous positive changes.

Today Uzbekistan is at an important stage of its development. The large-scale program of comprehensive reforms continues in the country, the main goal of which is the steady continuation of the process of transformation of Uzbekistan into a democratic, rule of law based state with a socially oriented market economy, ensuring comprehensive protection of the interests and rights of citizens, security, sustainable development and independence of the country.

Thanks to the democratic transformations in recent years, fundamental values have become a reality in the life of society - human rights and freedoms, rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

A strong atmosphere of mutual respect, tolerance, peace and stability has been established in the country. The values of interethnic and interfaith friendship and brotherhood, which have been formed on the land of Uzbekistan for centuries, have been strengthened.

As far as the foreign policy is concerned, Uzbekistan carries out an open, neighborly and pragmatic course, aimed at turning Central Asia into a region of stability, security and prosperity.

The priority of strengthening and expanding friendly relations and strategic partnership with all states of the world is being actively implemented.

Thanks to this consistent, constructive and balanced policy, trust and mutual understanding with the countries of Central Asia have been strengthened.

There is a unique mechanism for the development of regional cooperation - Consultative meetings of the heads of state of the region.

A historic document - Treaty on Friendship, Good-Neighborliness and Cooperation for the Development of Central Asia in the XXI Century - was signed in Kyrgyzstan during the Consultative Meeting on 21 July last year.

The adoption of this important agreement is a unique example of combining the potential of the countries of the region for the prosperity and development of our peoples.

Uzbekistan’s role in multilateral formats has intensified. Today, our country is taking important initiatives in the framework of the UN and other international organizations to address contemporary regional and global issues, such as promoting the settlement of the Afghan problem, climate change, Aral Sea disaster, achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, etc.

Uzbekistan held the Presidency in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Economic Cooperation Organization, as well as hosted the first time the Summit of the Organization of Turkic States in 2022.

Important steps have been taken in deepening mutually beneficial cooperation with all major and regional powers, including the EU and European states.

It is no exaggeration to say that 2022 became a new page in bilateral and interregional relations between Uzbekistan and the EU.

The first visit of President of the European Council Charles Michel to our country on
27-28 October 2022, as well as fruitful negotiations and significant agreements reached within the framework of the participation of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the first EU-Central Asia Summit on
27 October in Astana prompted the further development of our comprehensive cooperation.

The visit of EU High Representative Josep Borrell to our country on 17-19 November 2022 made it possible to once again discuss topical issues.

The EU-Central Asia Connectivity Conference organized at the initiative of Uzbekistan in Samarkand on 18 November 2022 was an important event in strengthening interregional cooperation. At the end of this event, specific agreements were reached on expansion of cooperation in digitalization, green economy, energy, climate change and transport.

The key areas of our cooperation with the EU and its member states are investments, trade, financial and technical assistance, high-tech transfer, science and technology, education, ecology, tourism, health and culture, as well as strengthening regional security.

A great achievement in our bilateral relations was the successful completion by the parties of negotiations on the Expanded Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), as a result of which it was initialed on 6 July 2022 in Brussels.

The document is intended to bring bilateral cooperation to a qualitatively new level. It will replace the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Uzbekistan and the EU of 1996.

We are looking forward to early entry into force of the Agreement and count on the further support of our European partners in this regard.

I would like to emphasize that the main provisions of EPCA are fully in line with the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026 adopted in January 2022.

The Strategy identifies 7 most important priorities for the country’s development in the coming years. They focus on human rights, strengthening civil society, ensure justice, rule of law and others.

It also underlines the importance of strengthening Uzbekistan’s relations with the EU and its member states for the development of relations in trade, economic, water, energy, transport, cultural and humanitarian spheres.

I would like emphasize that in recent years our bilateral trade and economic cooperation has accelerated and reached a qualitatively new level.

The volume of bilateral trade turnover last year reached $4.48 billion (in 2021 - $3.79 billion). Currently, 1052 enterprises with investments from EU member states are working in our country, including 304 companies with 100 percent of European capital.

In this regard, I would like to note that on
10 April 2021, Uzbekistan was granted the status of beneficiary of EU’s GSP+ scheme. This decision made it possible for about 6,200 types of goods produced in our country to enter the EU market without customs duties. Thanks to this, the export of Uzbek goods to the EU has increased significantly.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to note the successful first GSP+ monitoring mission to our country in March last year.

The Uzbek side is grateful to the European side for supporting Uzbekistan’s WTO accession and for providing the technical support (5 mln euros) in this direction. We are sure that this will serve to further expand trade and economic relations between Uzbekistan and the EU.

I am confident that the close friendly and constructive relations between Uzbekistan and the EU will continue to consistently strengthen and expand in the interests of our peoples.

Dear guests,

I will stop here and give the floor to Mr. Luc Devigne, Deputy Managing Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the EEAS, as well as to my colleagues, Ambassadors of Uzbekistan to Austria, Germany, France and Italy.

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