Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan: more than partnership
President of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev made his first state visit to Tashkent. Following the talks with Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev, a package of documents was signed, including a joint statement saying that the parties intend to raise "multi-faceted cooperation to a qualitatively new level." Tokayev said that the relations with Uzbekistan a priority direction of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.
This is the second foreign trip of the new Kazakh president. In early April, he paid a state visit to Moscow. Thus, Russia and Central Asia are indicatively designated as Kazakhstan’s foreign policy priorities, thus pushing back China, the European Union and the United States.
Tashkent appreciated the choice of Nur-Sultan. "We highly appreciate the fact that your first state visit as president of Kazakhstan was a visit to Uzbekistan. We see a clear manifestation of commitment to further deepen the strategic partnership between our countries by that. For us, Kazakhstan is a close neighbor and strategic partner. We are pleased with the positive dynamics all areas of cooperation," President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
"By the way, Mirzieyev was one of the first presidents who congratulated Tokayev on assuming office and invited him to Uzbekistan. However, the Kazakh president's visit to Tashkent was planned long ago, since last year, when Astana [the former name of Kazakhstan's capital Nur-Sultan - Vestnik Kavkaza] was visited by the Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyev. Then first president Nursultan Nazarbayev awarded his Uzbek colleague the Dostyk Order of the 1st degree and declared 2018 as the year of Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan. This year was declared the year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan. Second president Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev was honored to open it," the Deputy Director of Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Sanat Kushkumbayev, told Vestnik Kavkaza.
At the talks in Tashkent, Tokayev and Mirziyoyev agreed to expand ties in the fields of transport, logistics and industrial cooperation. The neighbors will also develop their cooperation in the military-technical sphere and the space industry. "Relations between our countries are a successful and effective model of bilateral cooperation, which is an important factor for stability, security and sustainable development of the entire Central Asian region. In my opinion, concord between the goals and objectives of Nur-Sultan and Tashkent will serve as a powerful incentive for further strengthening our large-scale cooperation," Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev said in an interview with the Uzbek media on the eve of his visit to Tashkent. He also noted that he and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev have "a common vision on all issues of bilateral development, which is important." "I am convinced that the trusting and regular contacts that have developed between us will further deepen the fraternal Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan relations," Tokayev said.
According to Kushkumbayev, the signed package of documents testifies to the big plans of Nur-Sultan and Tashkent. It was not by chance that the parties plan to increase trade turnover to $5 billion by 2020 regardless of any internal political agendas. For comparison, the trade turnover grew by almost 50% in 2018, exceeding $3 billion.
The change of power in Kazakhstan is nearing completion. On June 9, the republic will hols the early presidential election. Chief Researcher of the Institute of Market Problems of Russian Academy of Sciences Nabi Ziyadullayev told Vestnik Kavkaza that Tokayev would have the best chances in the upcoming election, if the Nur Otan party nominates him as a candidate. According to the legislation, only public associations can nominate candidates for presidential elections in Kazakhstan. The congress of the Nur Otan party will be held on April 23. According to the researcher, "the state visit to Uzbekistan strengthened the status of Tokayev as incumbent president, not only in Kazakhstan, but also in the Central Asian region." According to him, it would be fair for Tokayev to remain in power for the next five years.
Nabi Ziyadullayev stressed that over the past two years, relations between the two neighboring countries have been developing progressively: "Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan managed to resolve a number of issues that became the basis for regional integration. As long as the transit period continues in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan assumes leadership in the region."
At the talks with Mirziyoyev, Tokayev called relations with Uzbekistan a priority direction of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. According to him, this is the merit of the Kazakh and Uzbek presidents: "Dear Shavkat Miromonovich, you and first president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev raised interstate relations to a completely new level. For my part, as president of Kazakhstan, I intend to ensure the continuity of the Elbasy policy and continue the development of comprehensive Kazakh-Uzbek interaction. This is confirmed by the joint presidential statement signed by us today, which reflects our main achievements and further horizons of cooperation." According to Tokayev, there is a very high need in Kazakhstan for cooperation with "brotherly Uzbekistan."
In addition to economic projects, the two presidents discussed international problems and the peaceful settlement of the situation in Afghanistan. Tokayev and Mirziyoyev reaffirmed their commitment to reviving the economy of Afghanistan and spoke in favor of the need to develop long-term good-neighborly cooperation with the Islamic Republic, including through implementing large-scale projects in the areas of transport communications, education and health. "We are facing common regional problems: terrorism, religious extremism, illegal arms trade, organized crime, illegal migration and drug trafficking. The situation in Afghanistan, which increases the security risks in our region, is of a serious concern. All this requires coordinated, systematic proactive efforts. Therefore, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are establishing links between law enforcement agencies and special services of the two countries," Tokayev noted.