By Akmal SAIDOV
The following article by the above writer has been contributed by the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Seoul to The Korea Post media for publication, which publishes 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in, paid a state visit to the country on December 16-18.
During the visit, the head of the state held high-level meetings and negotiations in Seoul, where he met with the leadership of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea and representatives of leading companies.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President Moon Jae-in adopted a Joint Statement on Deepening Special Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea. In this document, a special importance is given to the goals of comprehensive development of mutually beneficial cooperation, the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the strengthening of friendly relations between the peoples of the two countries. «Green» development, digitalization and strong social policies have been defined as three priority areas for a special strategic partnership. Meanwhile, a significant package of bilateral documents was signed.
Features of the state visit
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, South Korea has become our reliable friend and partner that has stood the test of time. This is evidenced by the fact that today Korea is the fourth foreign trade partner of Uzbekistan.
The second state visit of the President of Uzbekistan to the Republic of Korea marked the beginning of a new era in special strategic cooperation between the two countries and in strengthening the friendly ties between peoples. In recent years, fruitful cooperation, which is becoming more organic and scalable, has contributed to raising partnership relations to a special strategic level.
I would like to draw your attention to the following features of this visit.
First, the meetings of the Presidents have become active and regular. That was the fourth time the leaders of two countries have met. This meeting made it possible to summarize the results of the agreements reached during previous negotiations and define new prospects for interaction.
Second, this state visit openly demonstrated that despite the pandemic conditions, bilateral cooperation has not seen downward trend, but, on the contrary, is pursuing steady development.
Third, the state visit became a logical continuation of a constructive and trust-based mutual dialogue. The President of Uzbekistan noted that Korea has provided tremendous assistance to our country in the difficult conditions due to coronavirus pandemic, and stressed that only friends could render such support.
Fourth, Uzbek-Korean relations, which are based on mutual trust, have been upgraded to the level of a special strategic partnership. This is the result of the strong political will of the leaders of the two countries, as well as close and sincere friendly relations.
Fifth, the preparation for the state visit have been thorough. None of our proposals have been declined by Korean partners. The Korean side expressed its readiness to support Uzbekistan in all areas of cooperation.
Sixth, the state visit was very fruitful and productive. A joint statement on Deepening the Special Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea and agreements on a number of new areas were reached.
Seventh, during the state visit, an important foundation for the further enhancement of the quality of strategic cooperation was laid.
Eighth, the South Korean media paid great attention to the state visit. In particular, The Korea Post magazine devoted a special issue to the state visit of the President of Uzbekistan. This recognition is reflected on the cover of the magazine: "President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is a prominent leader of modern time."
The Korea Times newspaper also highly appreciated the tireless constructive work of the head of our state, emphasizing in the publication: "The regional policy of the leader of Uzbekistan is a policy of renewal of the entire Central Asia." And other print and electronic media consistently and rigorously covered the events during the visit.
On the way to deepen interparliamentary ties
Interparliamentary ties between two countries have been raised to a new level. Regular meetings of Presidents gave an important impetus to this. As a result, mutual visits of the heads of our parliaments became systematic.
Quoting the words of Speaker of National Assembly of the Republic of Korea Park Byeong Seug, "parliaments must contribute substantially to the development of bilateral relations. "
First, during the meeting of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, it was emphasized: within the framework of a special strategic partnership between our countries, effective political dialogue and communication are actively and extensively continuing, including in the field of inter-parliamentary cooperation.
Over the course of four years, representatives of the parliaments of the two countries have exchanged official visits eight times.
During the meeting of the head of our state with the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, the parties exchanged views on the further expansion and intensification of bilateral cooperation. Park Byeong Seug asserted that he will prioritize the development of a special strategic partnership with Uzbekistan.
Second, during the talks, the President of Uzbekistan congratulated Korean side on the successful conduct of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Seoul and expressed hope that Uzbek parliament would take part in this authoritative meeting (APPF) as an observer.
In turn, Park Byeong Seug said that the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea is currently chairing this Forum and fully supports our country in this aspect. He believes that members of parliament should actively promote issues on the bilateral agenda and be enthusiastic about the effective implementation of agreements reached at high-level meetings. Therefore, it is plausible to further strengthen parliamentary diplomacy.
Third, inter-parliamentary "friendship groups" play an important role in strengthening relations between Uzbekistan and South Korea. Their online meeting took place in June this year.
Representatives of the Parliament of the Republic of Korea confirmed their participation in the Summit of Women Speakers of the World’s Parliaments, which will be held in Tashkent next year. The initiative was also supported to introduce new institutional mechanisms to promote joint programs and projects.
Depending on easing the conditions associated with the coronavirus, it is planned to hold the Forum of the Regions at the initiative of parliaments. The parties also confirmed their interest in continuing a close dialogue within the framework of the "Republic of Korea - Central Asia" Cooperation Forum.
Fourth, Park Byeong Seug noted that events dedicated to historical dates - the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 85th anniversary of the Korean diaspora in Uzbekistan in 2022, will further strengthen friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries.
During the meeting, the President of our country proposed to create a special committee in the Senate of the Oliy Majlis in charge of the development of comprehensive relations with South Korea. In addition, the position of the Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan is being introduced and the corresponding Agency is being created. The person appointed to this position will report to the Senate. It is plausible to establish a procedure for the quarterly hearing of the reports of the ministers of the two parties in the manner of parliamentary control.
Prospects for inter-parliamentary relations require:
• organization of mutual visits of heads of parliaments;
• effective parliamentary control by "friendship groups" and relevant committees over the implementation of treaties and agreements reached during the negotiations;
• acceleration of the ratification of signed bilateral documents;
• mutual support in international parliamentary organizations;
• participation in elections as an observer;
• invitation of the representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea to international events in Uzbekistan;
• ensuring the consistent implementation of urgent tasks at events and conferences of international and regional organizations, such as mutual support and promotion of a unified approach.
The achievements of the Parliament of Uzbekistan are also recognized. Women comprise 19% of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. Among the members of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, women make up 32%, and youth – 6%.
Thus, this visit showed that there are great opportunities for the development of inter-parliamentary cooperation between Uzbekistan and South Korea, which requires the practical use of this high potential. Consequently, parliamentary relations are an important component of bilateral relations.
Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea on Parliamentary Diplomacy
The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, who held conversation with the President of Uzbekistan, is known in his country as a hardworking member of Assembly, a demanding leader, adhering to the harmony of word and deed, open to the press, a family man and a very balanced person.
Park Byeong Seug has identified three main areas of activity as Speaker of Parliament:
• protecting the population from the coronavirus pandemic;
• establishing parliamentary work in harmony with the people;
• creating parliament that will pave the way for a stable future for its people.
Park Byeong Seug is also actively promoting the idea of reforming the Constitution. He is one of the modern politicians who supports the expansion of parliamentary diplomacy in the world. The speaker regularly visits many foreign countries, such as Sweden, Germany, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others.
In particular, Park Byeong Seug has noted with satisfaction his visit to our country in April this year.
“I know the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev as a great leader of his people,” he said.
South Korea fully supports democratic reforms in the country aimed at modernizing all spheres of life. According to Park Byeong Seug, "it was on the initiative and under the leadership of Shavkat Mirziyoyev that a new era began in Uzbekistan - the era of constructivism and development."
Thanks to the skillful and consistent policy of the President of Uzbekistan, a new geopolitical situation has developed in Central Asia within a short time. Uzbekistan has become a regional transport and financial center. And gender policy here deserves to be an example for foreign countries.
All this "clearly proves that the leader of Uzbekistan is the most active head of state in the region."
During the dialogue, the President of our country comprehensively explained the idea of moving from a special strategic partnership to allied cooperation. In response, recognizing the arguments of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and in support of this idea, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea said: "You are the most experienced diplomat I have ever known."
"Electronic Parliament": South Korean Experience
The Parliament of Korea is ready to assist the introduction of an "electronic parliament" in Uzbekistan. When mentioned, it is necessary to briefly dwell on this system, which has been introduced in order to support effective legislative activity in the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea.
This mechanism facilitates the organization of plenary sessions based on modern digital technologies; online dissemination of information about legislation; digitization of bills; the application of the video conferencing format.
Meanwhile, the activities of the Library of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea also deserve special attention. This information resource center is mainly engaged in the collection and storage of legislative assemblies and legislative acts, the publication of periodicals, various literature, interactive materials on social research.
The specialists of the parliamentary library analyze the activities of the legislative and executive authorities of the country. In this regard, statistics are widely disseminated, thanks to which a certain assessment is given. All information supplied to the library is posted on the Internet. And everyone is provided with free access to it.
Another important area of activity in the structure of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea is the Research Service, which, on the one hand, studies inquiries submitted to parliament and, on the other hand, collects, sorts and disseminates information related to lawmaking and political issues.
From this point of view, it is necessary to study and apply the experience of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea on the introduction of new information and communication technologies in the activities of the Oliy Majlis through grants from South Korea.
In addition, the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with the library of the National Assembly and the creation of a similar library in the national parliament will increase the opportunities for enhancing legal literacy and achieving better results in communicating laws to the population.
It is plausible to study the experience of the South Korean parliament in the areas of lawmaking, electoral system, as well as constitutional reform and public administration.
Special attention in the parliament of this country is paid to the development of institutions of gender policy and civil society, the introduction of inclusive education, the development of regions and villages.
In general, it should be noted that progress has been achieved in the implementation of the "Electronic Parliament" project.
Cooperation in the cultural and educational sphere: yesterday, today, tomorrow
As the President of Uzbekistan noted, we regard with special warmth South Korea and the Korean people. Despite the long distances between countries, we have similar mentality, traditions and moral values.
The Uzbek people highly value the distinguished human qualities of the Korean people: hard work and dedication, determination and courage, powerful spiritual enthusiasm and high intellectual potential.
It is noteworthy that the officials of the Republic of Korea also recognized that historical ties, similar traditions, spiritual and cultural closeness bind the peoples of the two states.
Indeed, although Uzbekistan and South Korea are geographically far from each other, their peoples are close in heart and share a common goal of peace and development. According to historical sources, friendly countries have been interacting since the days of the Great Silk Road. One example of this is the frescoes at the Afrosiab Museum in Samarkand, which depict the reception of the ancient Korean ambassador by the ruler of Samarkand in the middle of the 7th century.
Another important historical fact: the table of stars, described in the work of Mirzo Ulugbek " Ziji jadidi Kuragoniy", served as the basis for the creation of the ancient Korean calendar in the state of Joseon.
The peoples of the two countries still remember that 74,5 thousand people of Korean nationality were deported from the Far East to Uzbekistan in the harsh year of 1937. Here they found their second homeland.
The kindness, tolerance and humanity of the Uzbek people in difficult and hard times inspired and helped the forcibly displaced Koreans to find their rightful place in our multinational society. A monument of gratitude to the Uzbek people on behalf of Korean diaspora was opened in Tashkent today.
For more than 80 years, the Korean diaspora has been preserving its culture and customs in Uzbekistan, and the necessary conditions have been created for this in our country. The House of Korean Culture and Art was opened.
Interest in history, language, culture, cinema, modern music and national cuisine of friendly people is growing in Uzbekistan.
I am glad that the number of young people studying the Korean language in educational institutions of our country is increasing. In turn, the number of students studying Uzbek is growing as well in South Korea. For example, the Uzbek language is taught at the universities of Busan, Daegu and Hankuk in the Republic of Korea. Students of seven higher educational institutions of Uzbekistan study Korean.
In this regard, it should be noted that the head of the Institute of Eurasian and Turkic Languages Oh Eunkyung has earned the Doctor of Science of Uzbek language and literature from Uzbek Academy of Sciences. It is no less important that the presentation of the Uzbek edition of the book "The Golden Phoenix" by the famous Korean writer Yi Mun-yol took place in Seoul.
The opening of the monument to Alisher Navoi became a great historical event in the spiritual life of the peoples of the two states. Along with such cities as Tokyo, Shanghai, Washington, Moscow, Minsk, Baku, Mazar-i-Sharif, Osh, Dushanbe, another beautiful city in the world has a monument to the great poet and thinker. The event is timed to coincide with the 580th anniversary of the birth of Alisher Navoi, as well as the state visit of the head of our state to the Land of Morning Calm.
During the visit of the President of Uzbekistan, important agreements were reached on the development of cultural and educational relations. In particular, special attention was paid to the interest of our country in the practical application of the achievements of the Republic of Korea in the field of digital economy, artificial intelligence, "smart" cities, outsourcing, new generation communications and Internet technologies.
The South Korean side supports the ongoing reforms in our country in the field of the rule of law, regional security, religious tolerance, freedom of the media, gender equality.
The Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan are fruitfully cooperating in the field of healthcare, preschool, secondary and higher education. As a result of the first major joint project since last year, a Children's Multidisciplinary Medical Center operates in Tashkent. In the future, a unique medical cluster will be built here, which will include a clinic for the elderly, an oncological dispensary and a medical university.
The educational model of the Republic of Korea is one of the most successful and exemplary in the world. That is why the preschool education system of our country has been completely reformed based on the advanced experience and knowledge of partners from South Korea. We have five branches of the leading South Korean universities.
Noting the importance of developing innovative cooperation between universities, the President of Uzbekistan proposed creating a permanent platform for regular dialogue and holding a Forum of presidents of higher educational institutions of the two countries next year.
Also, during the negotiations, it was noted that in the post-pandemic period, the tourism sector can become one of the engines of economic growth. Uzbekistan is ready to support the participation of South Korean companies in projects related to the construction of hotels and infrastructure facilities.
The head of our state proposed to declare 2022 the Year of Mutual Exchanges between Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea, to create a Museum of the History of Koreans and a library at the House of Korean Culture and Art in Tashkent. These proposals were supported by the President of South Korea and the Speaker of the Parliament.