Uzbekistan and South Korea - future oriented strategic partners
Uzbekistan celebrates the 22nd
anniversary of Independence
On September 1st the people of Uzbekistan celebrate one of their most cherished holidays - Independence Day. This year it will be its 22nd Anniversary.
The foundation of bilateral relations between two states was laid on December 30, 1991, when the Republic of Korea among the first countries recognized Uzbekistan’s independence. Subsequently, the diplomatic relations were established on January 29, 1992. Ever since the two countries have been engaged in vigorous political dialogue. The intensity of close cooperation can be manifested by the fact that over the past 21 years there have been twelve summit meetings between our heads of state.
Within a short, from historical point of view, period of time the two countries have gained enormous experience of mutually beneficial cooperation in political, trade-economic, investment and cultural-humanitarian areas that serves as a solid foundation for further implementation of long-term mutually beneficial projects between Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea in all these spheres.
In March of 2006 during the State visit of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov to South Korea a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the two countries was signed that greatly contributed to furthering and strengthening multifaceted Uzbek-Korean relations and elevated them to a new qualitative level.
Over the 21 years of diplomatic relations the parties have laid a solid legal basis for bilateral cooperation which today encompasses more than 200 documents that streamline collaboration in different fields which further diversified Uzbek-Korean relations and filled them with practical content of strategic partnership between our nations.
The Government of Uzbekistan is committed to continue the close cooperation with the new Government the Republic of Korea under the leadership President Park Geun-hye in further strengthening bilateral relations in all areas as well as rendering support to each others positions on important regional and global issues.
Uzbekistan, as an initiator of establishing the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, strongly supports a non-nuclear status for the Korean Peninsula. In this context, Tashkent is adamant supporter of Seoul’s aspiration for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsular within the framework of the six-party talks.
The parties have also achieved a notable success in the area of promoting inter-parliamentary cooperation. In 1995, in the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea a Parliamentary Association of Friendship “Korea-Uzbekistan” was founded. In 2005, in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan a similar group of cooperation with Korea was established. This year four delegations from the National Assembly visited Uzbekistan to discuss issues of furthering inter-parliamentary collaboration and supporting the overall process of strengthening the bilateral relations.
Since 1995 Foreign Ministries of the two countries have been on a regular basis holding their political consultations. These meetings provide the parties with an opportunity in a frank manner to discuss all aspects of bilateral relations, exchange of views on important international and regional issues that are of mutual interest.
Since 2007 a Forum “Republic of Korea - Central Asia” has been annually convened. Its primary purpose to strengthen and expand cooperation in the area of economy, culture, education, tourism as well as to share with experience in the field of information-telecommunication technology, construction and transportation.
One should especially note a sustainable tendency of expanding trade-economic and investment cooperation as well as a constant increase of two-way commerce that in 2012 exceeded $2.1 billion.
Currently the parties have been cooperating in implementing a number of big investment projects that give great impetus to deepening cooperation in trade-economic, investment and energy sectors. One of them is the construction an Ustyurt Gas-Chemical Complex on the basis of the Surgil gas deposit. The estimated cost of this project is $2.6 billion with annual production over $1.6 billion.
There are a myriad of opportunities also for enhancing investment cooperation in mining, oil-gas, petrochemical, construction, automobile-manufacturing and textile industries as well as in agriculture sector and in the field of energy saving technologies. The aggregate volume of announced Korean investments into the economy of Uzbekistan today exceeded $10 billion, including $6 billion that have been already drawn.
Today in Uzbekistan there are more than 401 enterprises with the Korean participation. They function in the area of trade, light, mining, chemical and food industries, as well as in the sector of machine-building, metal-working manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and services. Currently, 88 Korean companies are registered at the Ministry for Foreign Economic, Investment and Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
One of the promising areas of bilateral cooperation is the implementation of various projects in the Free Industrial-Economic Zone “Navoi” (FIEZ). Consolidation of opportunities that provide the FIEZ and International logistic center at the Airport of Navoi, which is currently managed by the leading world cargo carrier - Korean Air, creates exceptional conditions for developing highly remunerative production and swift delivery of manufactured products to world markets through an effective system of multimodal transportation by air, trucks and railroads. The cargo terminal of Navoi Airport has the capacity to process daily about 300 tons of cargo and 100 thousands tons annually.
Another important area for cooperation is the implementation of various projects pertaining to attracting to our country high innovative technologies aimed at creating new and upgrading current production lines. Within this cooperation Uzbekistan has started producing high valued products based on advanced science intensive technologies and become one of the world auto manufacturers.
In July this year Minister of Security and Public Administration Yoo Jeong-bok visited Tashkent. During the meetings with President Islam Karimov and other governmental officials issues of expanding cooperation between two countries in the area of information-communication technologies have been discussed. Korea is currently providing technical assistance in expanding e-government in Uzbekistan.
At the present time active bilateral cooperation is underway thanks to technical assistance of the Government of the Republic of Korea that is rendered through the Korean Agency for International Cooperation (KOICA). As of today more than 1300 representatives of different ministries and agencies of Uzbekistan have undergone trainings in South Korea through KOICA’s programs.
The parties also successfully cooperate in the cultural-humanitarian field. The two countries main been focusing their efforts on expanding humanitarian exchanges and interactions in the area of education, tourism and sport as well as on creating in Tashkent the Seoul Park.
At the beginning of this August a delegation of the Province of Gyeongsangbuk-do led by Governor Kim Gwan Young visited Uzbekistan and signed two agreements on establishing sister relations between Tashkent region and Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, as well as on sister relations between Samarqand city and Gyeongju City. Gyeongsangbuk-do Province recently has been actively taking steps to renew the cooperation between ancient cities along the Great Silk Road.
The Korean Diaspora in Uzbekistan, that is one of the largest in the world, plays an important role in strengthening friendly relations between the two countries. Since 1999 the Society of Friendship “Uzbekistan-Korea” has been functioning in Uzbekistan. In addition, a Korean Center of education has been opened in Tashkent since 1992. It organizes on competitive basis language training and courses in Korea for Uzbekistan’s teachers and students to increase their proficiency level on the Korean language. Currently, Korean is taught in 13 Universities and 28 schools and lyceums of Uzbekistan.
In general, since the establishment of diplomatic relations the Republic of Korea has been and remains for Uzbekistan a time-tested and reliable, in all respect, strategic partner that renders coherent support in implementing in Uzbekistan important national programs of drastic reforms and modernization of economy and social sphere. In this regard Uzbekistan strives for further developing and strengthening mutually beneficial relations with the Republic of Korea that serve the interests of the two countries and their peoples.
Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Seoul k