President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov paid an official visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan on October 11-12.
Not only the traditional hospitality, which the ancient land of Azerbaijan is famed for, but also a special sense of warmth, friendship and respect for our country was felt right fr om the very first minutes of the Uzbek delegation’s stay in Azerbaijan.
The relations between our two nations are not subject to the shifting political situation in international affairs, and rather are embedded in deep historical roots, in the community and similarity of national traditions, customs, language, culture and religion, with clearly designated guidelines. The latest history of our friendly ties is rich with examples when – at various levels – we earnestly extended our hand of help and support to each other.
President Islam Karimov’s official visit to Azerbaijan was primarily dedicated to bolstering the friendly bonds between our two countries, to implementing the deals reached earlier, to singling out prospective priorities in the evolution of bilateral cooperation.
Uzbekistan has always placed a particular emphasis on the consolidation of comprehensive interaction with Azerbaijan. During independence years, our two nations have established relations built on mutual confidence and the absence of any clash of interests.
In this light, the two sides held the talks in the spirit of constructivism and pragmatism and discussed the current state and prospects of Uzbek-Azerbaijani relations as well as pressing issues in regional and international security. A range of important documents has been signed to this end.
The practical outcomes reached this time have helped raise bilateral ties to a qualitatively new level of strategic partnership.
Addressing the regional security issues, the two sides urged for a peaceful resolution of the existing conflicts and seats of tension on the basis of rigorous adherence to the principle of territorial integrity of states.
In the current thorniest conditions amid the ongoing confrontation in South Caucasus, Azerbaijan has been making confident strides in the implementation of programs designed to boost the economy, to diversify it and to cash in the rich resources of the country. Azerbaijan boasts an industrial sector built on cutting-edge technologies and aimed at expanding the exports component, at integration into the world markets. By making a good use of its geographical and geostrategic position, the country has secured the status of one of the critical logistical centers in the wider region.
Notwithstanding the fact that Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan have no common borders in the traditional sense of the word, our two nations are tied to a great extent, given the growing geopolitical and geo-economic interdependence of South Caucasus and Central Asia.
The developments in recent years have demonstrated that the interests of a very diverse group of external forces and great powers intersect and sometimes openly conflict in these pivotal regions of the world, in these critical parts of global politics that harness massive mineral resources, including raw materials and hydrocarbon reserves, the enormous cultural-historical and human potential.
The regions, naturally, have their own specific features; yet they have much in common at the same time.
This objectively raises the necessity in coordination of action and mutual contacts in order to create favorable external conditions on the way to ensuring security and sustainable socio-economic development of our countries and regions in general.
The stabilizing role of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan is especially important in the current conditions – a period characterized by the mounting risks in our regions, – thus making us adequately address these challenges.
During the negotiations, the two sides also deliberated on issues pertinent to the development of bilateral relations in trade-economic and transport-communications spheres.
The heads of two states concluded that the current state of bilateral trade hardly reflects the economic capacities of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. According to them, effective measures are needed to attain higher volumes of trade turnover.
Taking into account Azerbaijan’s potential in hydrocarbon industry, Uzbekistan is willing to procure equipment and components for this sector, import petrochemicals and other goods produced in Azerbaijan.
In turn, the enterprises in Uzbekistan are enthusiastic about supplying Azerbaijan with modern cars and trucks as well as passenger buses, agricultural hardware and machinery, a broad range of goods of electrical and chemical industries, textiles, cement and construction materials, mineral fertilizers and other produce.
Within the framework of President Islam Karimov’s visit to Azerbaijan, a number of events and bilateral meetings were organized with local partners to discuss a wide spectrum of issues related to the enhancement of trade and economic cooperation.
Thus, at the regular 10th session of Intergovernmental Commission on Cooperation between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, the parties expressed mutual interest in making use of the considerable reserves and opportunities for stepping up trade and economic interaction as well as that in transport communications and transit. Also, the two sides called, inter alia, for the expansion of agreement and normative base of bilateral cooperation.
Attesting to the immense capacities for fostering the mutually advantageous trade relations between our two countries, the sides discussed solid recommendations for reciprocal supplies of a wide range of goods during the Uzbek-Azerbaijani business forum that was attended by more than a hundred representatives of leading local companies.
For instance, the GM-Uzbekistan manufactured modern cars and SUVs under the Chevrolet brand have enjoyed a high demand in Azerbaijan. Worth noting that around 4.5 thousand such automobiles have been shipped to Azerbaijan within the last five years, and the two sides have reached a deal, in accordance with which another 3.3 thousand units of such produce is to be exported to that country in the next few years.
In order to further stimulate growth in the volumes of auto supplies to Azerbaijan, a potential presentation ceremony of the new GM-Uzbekistan model, the Cobalt sedan, is currently under elaboration.
A much promising aspect of cooperation also includes the organization of supplies of passenger buses, large-capacity trucks, specialized hardware and machinery, municipal public-utility equipment, including fire-fighting vehicles and street sprinklers, body hoists and other goods produced in Uzbekistan at the MAN and Isuzu plants.
For example, more than 400 SamAuto-manufactured buses are currently serving passenger routes in Azerbaijan, and another 150 such vehicles is projected to be delivered in 2013 owing to the confidence these buses have generated in the partner nation.
Given the enduring government programs in Azerbaijan designed to reform the agricultural sector, the sides have also been considering the provision of combines and tractors produced at the JV UzClaas Agro and the Tashkent Tractor Plant open-stock company, along with mineral fertilizers.
The sides have a practice of Uzbek wheat supply to the Azerbaijani market, and the companies in that country say they are interested in keeping with that tradition and import up to 50,000 tons of grain per annum.
In general, the bilateral meetings and talks with Azerbaijani partners have demonstrated a high interest in enhancing the cooperation, indicated by the remarkable package of signed agreements envisaging the delivery of automobiles and spare parts, agricultural hardware and machinery, commodities including wheat, as well as mineral fertilizers, cables and conductor materials to Azerbaijan.
During the negotiations at the highest level, the two sides have gone at great length to address the prospects of boosting transport corridors between Central Asia and the Caucasus with access to European countries via the Black Sea port of Poti and the Mediterranean port of Mersin in Turkey.
In this regard, Uzbekistan is interested in cashing in the rail transport corridor Navoi-Turkmenbashi-Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (Turkey) to link the railways of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia with the networks of Turkey and hence facilitate access to the Mediterranean through the port of Mersin.
The two parties stressed in this respect that the execution of Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is to generate entirely new conditions for transport and communications schemes, which, in turn, are to help establish novel transportation arteries which could well prove shorter and more efficient from the economic point of view.
In the joint declaration adopted following the talks, a particular significance was attached to the need for the advancement of economic cooperation and the employment of considerable reserves and opportunities for the expansion of trade and economic interaction, mutual turnover and investments, for the unconditional execution of action plan on the implementation of economic cooperation program for 2012-2015 signed during President Islam Karimov’s visit to Azerbaijan, and which epitomizes practical measures dedicated to bolstering the trade and economic cooperation.
The parties agreed that the energetic and enthusiastic work of the Intergovernmental Commission should become the principal coordinating mechanism in this endeavor.
The national expositions held in the last few years in Baku and Tashkent, according to the two sides, have succeeded in stirring an enormous interest by the business circles of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan in building up the cooperation, especially in those areas wh ere our two economies supplement one another.
The two countries have also agreed to continue to work together in bilateral and multilateral formats for a more effective and mutually advantageous utilization of vast transport and communications and transit potential of our two nations.
The cooperation in cultural and humanitarian areas has also been one of the priority dimensions of efforts aimed at buttressing the bilateral relations, given the centuries-old cultural bonds, the spiritual closeness, and the community of traditions and customs of our two peoples.
A monument to Alisher Navoi stands high in Baku, whereby Tashkent is home to a statue of Nizami Ganjavi. A street in Azerbaijan’s capital city is named after a great ancestor of ours – the scientist Mirzo Ulughbek. In turn, a street in the capital of Uzbekistan embodies the name of the great son of Azerbaijan – Heydar Aliyev.
Today, a 40,000 Azerbaijani ethnic diaspora has been living in peace and harmony with other ethnic groups in our country and making a worthwhile input into the development of the independent Uzbekistan.
The fact that 27 Azerbaijanis of Uzbekistan, including prominent scholars and educators, construction workers and military servicemen, folk masters of culture and arts, have been awarded in recent years with highest state honors and rewards is eloquently indicative of their role and distinguished place in our society.
Representatives of Azerbaijan have traditionally taken part in the Sharq Taronalari international music festival and won prize positions.
Promising directions of cooperation in this sphere are considered to be joint scientific and technological innovations, the advancement of direct contacts between the academies of sciences and higher education institutions of our two countries, and the organization of all different kinds of cultural events.
One of achievements in Azerbaijan’s dynamic development is the contemporary appearance of the capital Baku, which strikes with its uniqueness and construction boom. Today, Baku is a vigorously advancing megalopolis. On the one hand, it is an Eastern city, while on the other it is by every means a Western-style urban hub.
The city has undergone a practically complete renewal of all its arterial communications, coupled with the erection of original constructions and architectural solutions atypical for Eastern nations. This fact is suggestive of the reality that Azerbaijan is not merely one of the centers of the Orient, but it is also a modern country, a modern civilization, the one with state-of-the-art architectural designs.
Summing up the eventful and fruitful visit by the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to Azerbaijan, one can state with confidence that it has come to be an important step toward further development of multilayered cooperation, consolidation of strategic partnership and the definition of comprehensive interaction program in key issues of international affairs on the basis of mutual respect, with due regard to the interests of our two nations.