Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s recent trip to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan combined business with a bit of entertainment, as he discussed issues of regional importance, signed ten agreements and attended the opening ceremony of the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG).
The documents inked in Uzbekistan between the governments and state-owned companies Sept. 16 centre on enhanced cooperation in trade, economy, investment, water and agricultural issues, customs legislation, transit-transport, military and culture.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev opened the leaders’ sixth meeting by noting the session was “a testament to [our nations’] friendly intentions.”
“This year can be called truly historical for the relations between our countries. There has been a considerable breakthrough in all the spheres of the economy,” he said.
Nazarbayev stressed Mirziyoyev’s achievements in boosting business cooperation.
“Over a short period of time, you have done a lot for the successful development of bilateral relations. We have much in common – our languages, culture, religion – and therefore we have no other way but to cooperate closely,” he said.
In speaking with reporters, Nazarbayev noted the ways in which Astana and Tashkent have collaborated in transportation, water issues and investment projects in the gas and space industries. He added Uzbekistan’s decision to reduce excise taxes on certain types of imported goods was a positive step towards enhancing trade cooperation, resulting in a 35-percent increase in bilateral trade in the first seven months of this year. The task, according to the head of state, is to increase trade turnover to $5 billion by 2020.
“We are already witnessing the results of our agreements. A Tulpar-Talgo high-speed train travels between Almaty and Tashkent twice a week, our national air carriers have launched additional flights, there are regular bus routes, reconstruction of a large interstate road is underway and a car assembly project has been launched,” he said.
He added the talks included the issues surrounding the Aral Sea, including revising the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea and holding a summit in 2018. They also raised the situation in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan’s membership on the UN Security Council, the just-concluded Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit on Science and Technology and Uzbekistan’s initiative to host the next conference. He also stressed the importance of developing cultural and humanitarian connections.
Mirziyoyev noted Nazarbayev’s role in resolving interethnic and inter-regional conflicts and awarded him the El Yurt Hurmaty Order (Respect of the People and the State Order). They later laid flowers at the monuments of independence and humanism and honouring former Uzbek President Islam Karimov and visited the Tole bi Mausoleum and an industrial exhibition displaying products from more than 50 Kazakh manufacturers.
Nazarbayev and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov opened AIMAG in Ashgabat Sept. 17, marking the competition as a regional event.
“It is our common holiday – a holiday of all Central Asian countries. It is an indicator of our solidarity and cohesion. Representatives of 64 countries are taking part in the games. At the request of the United Nations, the games include a team consisting of refugees that is participating as a 65th country,” said Berdymukhamedov.
Hosting major international events such as AIMAG, EXPO 2017 and the 28th World Winter Universiade brings attention to both nations, said Nazarbayev.
“Many sports facilities have been built here, which in the future will serve your people well. Such events make it possible for Turkmenistan to become more recognisable in the world,” he said.
The Kazakh President also stressed the significance of fraternal relations with the neighbouring nation and the need to further develop bilateral cooperation.
“A lot has been done since your visit to Kazakhstan; an interstate commission is now functioning. I think we have good prospects in the economic sphere. I came to you from Uzbekistan, where I was on a state visit. We have resolved many issues and have witnessed an increase in trade; this year it grew 35 percent. I hope for such an extension of relations between our countries as well,” he said.