UzA-KAZINFORM President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave an interview to Kazinform International News Agency and UzA National News Agency of Uzbekistan on the results achieved, current state and prospects for the development of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Thanks to the First President of Kazakhstan - Leader of the Nation, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, relations between our countries have embarked on a new level. What are the common goals and tasks set before Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan?
Since the first days of independence Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been standing together in the tense moments gratifying by each other's success. We have built solid and harmonious relations based on the shared objective - prosperity of both countries. First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev played the key role in strengthening strategic partnership between our countries. The Leader of the Nation pays special attention to the development of relations with the nearest neighbors, therefore, your country ranks among the priorities of the country's foreign policy. We will further the course for rapprochement of our nations. Today the main tasks are expanding of trade and economic ties and deepening of cross-border cooperation. The governments set the tasks to increase the mutual sales up to USD 5 billion by 2020.
The present examples of fruitful and growing cooperation in the investment sphere, industrial cooperation, and development of joint ventures meet mutual striving to deepen economic cooperation for the mutual benefit. There are great prospects for partnership in transit and transport sphere. For landlocked Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan the priority tasks are to improve transit infrastructure and development of transport cooperation with other countries.
We face common regional problems such as terrorism, religious extremism, illegal arms trade, organized crime, irregular migration and drug trafficking. Situation in Afghanistan causes deep concern that escalates security risks of the region. That's why Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan forge relations between the law-enforcement agencies and special services of the two countries. Besides, we pay attention to further strengthening of cultural and humanitarian ties. Relations between the countries feature a successful and efficient model of bilateral cooperation which is an important factor of stability, security and sustainable development of the entireCentral Asian region.
In my opinion, harmony of tasks and objectives Nur-Sultan and Tashkent facing will serve a powerful stimulus for further strengthening of our large-scale cooperation.
Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev are known to have warm friendly relations. What could you say about the development of your relations with the President of Uzbekistan?
Shavkat Mirziyoyev was one of the first Heads of State to congratulate me on assuming the office of the President of Kazakhstan. I am sincerely grateful for his warm words.
We had talks with Shavkat Mirziyoyev in 2017 when the delegation of the Kazakh Senate paid a visit to Tashkent. I headed the delegation. Strategic approach of the Uzbek President on key priority areas of the country's development, his deep insight into situation in the region and world made an impression on me. We have shared vision on bilateral development issues. I am confident that the trustworthy and regular contacts between the countries will contribute to further widening of fraternal Kazakh-Uzbek relations.
What results of the Year of Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan could you highlight?
The decision to hold that landmark event became a bright page in the history of bilateral relations. The Year of Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan was held at the highest level. About 200 events contributing to widening and strengthening of ties between people, research, culture and education institutions, and business structures were held in our country. The 1st forum of interregional cooperation of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was a success. Important documents were signed following its results aimed at further development of interregional ties.
The commodity turnover between the two nations increased by almost 50% to hit USD 3 billion in 2018.
In light of this it is symbolic that my first state visit to the fraternal country coincides with the opening of the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan.
What do you expect of the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan? First of all, we hope that Uzbek people will take part in the events of the Year of Kazakhstan and the event will find a broad response. That's why we have tried to make the programme of the Year of Kazakhstan diverse and eventful. Business forums and conferences will be of great interest for businessmen and politicians. Educational exhibitions will attract students. Besides, lots of cultural, sports and tourists events will be held. Events will be held around Uzbekistan. We hope to strengthen integrational cooperation and ties.
We plan to complete modernization of checkpoints to significantly reduce the border crossing time. Our goal is to build modern customs and border infrastructure. In one word we are ready to continue our economic, social and humanitarian cooperation with Uzbekistan. All this will let build new bridges of understanding and cooperation. I am confident that the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan will help strengthen centuries-long ties of friendship and good neighbourliness between the nations.
Political analysts have been writing since 1990s about the Central Asian factor. None of the critical forecasts came true. What is your vision of Central Asia in global politics?
Since gaining independence many experts and observers forecast mainly the negative scenario for the development of Central Asia. They predicted us decay, uncontrolled growth of terroristic threats, turning into some caliphate, internal tensions, economic and social collapse. However, "balkanization" forecasts for Central Asia never came true. For the past years of sovereign development the well-considered steps, decisions of each Central Asian country let preserve stability in the region and lay solid foundation for long-term consistent development. Today Central Asia is going through a new phase of its development. We eye a trend of strengthening of interstate cooperation, search for mutually acceptable solutions on the whole range of pressing issues. To this end we have the main thing - the political will of all the leaders of our region, readiness to boost cooperation on the principles of good neighborliness and mutual interest.
Last March the capital of Kazakhstan held the first consultative meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia. It may be said without exaggeration that the said event became a new phase in the regional cooperation. The meeting defined the key priority areas of five-sided cooperation and mapped out plans for the future.