“Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan: cooperation tested by time”

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April 20, 2018

“Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan: cooperation tested by time”

Since ancient times, the Uzbek and Turkmen peoples have lived side by side in friendship and harmony, mutually enriching their cultures. Uzbeks and Turkmens have friendly roots, which also have ties of kinship. Two brotherly people have drunk water from one river for many centuries.

For centuries these two peoples bound among themselves by creation of families. There is a saying “Let the connection (path) of kinship not break”, it was a tradition to take the bride from the family of relatives living on the side. And this proven tradition for centuries has really worked, and family ties have been increasingly strengthened by the birth of a new generation.

Uzbeks have a proverb “A real friend is tested in hardship”. The friendship of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is time-tested. In difficult times, the peoples constantly supported each other, in particular, the pain and suffering of the Turkmen were perceived by Uzbeks as their own. Uzbekistan was one of the first to render support to the people of Turkmenistan to eliminate the consequences of the Ashgabat earthquake in 1948. Uzbek doctors left for Ashgabat immediately. Thousands of wounded and orphaned children were evacuated to Uzbekistan.

Today, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan attach special importance to deepening the relations of good-neighborliness and friendship, raising the level of strategic cooperation. A striking manifestation of this was the opening in Tashkent the street named after Makhtumkuli and his monument as well as the park “Ashgabat” reflecting the symbolism of friendly Turkmenistan. In turn, in order to perpetuate the memory of the first President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, a memorial complex was opened in Turkmenistan in his honor, and a street was also named after his name.

It should also be noted that the cultural heritage occupies a special place in the relations between the two countries. It is difficult to find a Turkmen family where Navoi would not have read, and an Uzbek who is not familiar with the verses of Makhtumkuli. Works of Makhtumkuli widely studied in schools in Uzbekistan, and by Uzbek scientists.

Undoubtedly, thanks to the trustful and friendly dialogue between the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Uzbek-Turkmen relations have reached the level of a genuine strategic partnership. During 2017, a number of high-level meetings took place in bilateral and multilateral formats. The interaction between our countries is filled with new quality content. A clear illustration of this is the following points, including those stipulated by the Strategic Partnership Treaty of March 2017:

First, trade and economic cooperation is expanding. A new impetus to this was given by the agreement between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on economic cooperation for 2018-2020, signed in March 2017 in Ashgabat. A vivid example of the practical implementation of this document is the holding in March 2018 of a meeting of the joint Uzbek-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation.

In 2017, delegations of Uzbek and Turkmen business circles exchanged with visits to participate in exhibitions, fairs and business forums. It is encouraging to note that the manufacturer of large household appliances in Uzbekistan under the trademark “Artel” organized a joint production in Turkmenistan of assembling water heaters and aluminum profiles. It is symbolic that for the first time in the end of March this year, the National Industrial Exhibition was organized in Ashgabat, which clearly reflects the significant potential of the Turkmen-Uzbek partnership.

Undoubtedly, the implementation of the Mutual Supply Agreement of October 2, 2012 and the involvement of products with high added value in the turnover will further increase the volume of mutual trade and expand its range.

Secondly, there is intense interaction between the border regions of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. An agreement has been reached on the development of cross-border cooperation between the Bukhara and Khorezm regions of Uzbekistan with the Lebap and Dashoguz velayats of Turkmenistan.

Thanks to the mutual visits of delegations at the level of representatives of the regional authorities of the two countries, today they are working on the implementation of joint projects in various fields. In particular, our agrarians, together with their Turkmen counterparts, are working to improve the methodology and practice of producing fine-fiber cotton in Uzbekistan, share their experience and knowledge in the field of intensive gardens cultivation, fruit and vegetable processing.

Thirdly, targeted projects in the field of transport are being implemented. The integrated roads and railways of the two countries serve the transit function for third countries. As President Shavkat Mirziyoyev stated, “Uzbekistan is aimed at getting out through the ports of Turkmenistan to the Caspian Sea, international transport corridors.” In this regard, it is natural to note the transport-transit corridor “Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Oman”, the successful implementation of which will increase transit cargo flows and provide the project participants with the shortest and most effective access to foreign markets.

Fourth, the interaction in the implementation of large-scale projects in the oil and gas sector is growing. As the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev stated, “this is a new sphere of activity for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The joint experience acquired here will allow our oil producers to enter the broader regional and international markets in the future”. It is significant in this context that the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-China gas pipeline, with a capacity of up to 25 billion cubic meters gas per year.

At the same time, today Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have an agreement on the joint development of hydrocarbon deposits on the Caspian coast. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov welcomed the participation of Uzbekistan in the implementation of such major joint projects.

Fifth, cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian sphere is deepening. Over the past two years, the “Days of Culture of Uzbekistan” and “Days of Culture of Turkmenistan” alternately took place in the capitals of the two countries. At the same time, the Program of Cooperation in the Cultural and Humanitarian Sphere for 2017-2019 was signed.

Efforts are being made to create favorable conditions for the Uzbek and Turkmen diasporas residing on the territory of the two states. About 190 thousand Turkmen citizens live in Uzbekistan. In order to preserve the traditions, language and culture of the Turkmen from the first years of independence, the Republican Turkmen Cultural Center was established in our country. In 2017 in the Nukus State Pedagogical Institute named after Ajiniyaz a faculty was opened to train teachers for primary classes in teaching in the Turkmen language.

In general, the Uzbek-Turkmen relations are enjoying the most favorable period for the further development of full-scale cooperation and enrichment with a qualitatively new content. Undoubtedly, the upcoming visit of the President of Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan will contribute to the building up of a multifaceted, multilevel and mutually beneficial partnership between our states.

Nigora Shokhimardonova,

Chief Researcher of the Institute of Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan