Uzbekistan Conference Attracts Global Interest in Central Asia

  • Date of Publication : 21/07/2021 at 11:53 GMT
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Dreams of connecting landlocked Central Asia more closely to South Asia and the international trading system are coming into focus after a two-day conference last week in Tashkent, hosted by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Nearly 50 countries and more than 30 international organizations attended, including China, Russia, the United States, and the European Union. The gathering was perhaps the largest yet to promote economic integration. Still, experts caution that high-level engagements must translate into tangible investments in order to deliver economic benefits.
Mirziyoyev said that strengthening ties with neighbors is a top priority for Uzbekistan, “a reliable, stable, and predictable partner, interested in and committed to constructive cooperation based on mutual interests.”
Evoking common history and values, Mirziyoyev urged closer partnerships. “Without tighter relationships and economic connectivity, we cannot turn this part of the world, and the Eurasian continent, into a stable and prosperous space.”
Edward Lemon of Texas A&M University says Mirziyoyev’s “activist foreign policy” can help to expand trade by reopening borders and addressing “regional problems, most notably the challenging situation in Afghanistan.”
Secretary-General António Guterres said the United Nations will support these efforts, since connectivity is essential to trade, growth, and sustainable development.
“But connectivity is not just about economics. It drives regional cooperation and encourages friendly relations among neighbors,” Guterres told the conference during a video appearance.
“This places an even higher premium on the importance of active and collective engagement in support of Afghanistan’s peace and security.”
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in an increasingly precarious spot in the face of a Taliban march toward Kabul. But he flew to Tashkent to stress that “a political settlement to the conflict has been our national priority. A sovereign, united, democratic, peaceful and connected Afghanistan has been endorsed internationally and regionally.”

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