The Chief Researcher of the International Institute for Central Asia Bayazitov Ares in an interview with the correspondent of the “Dunyo”IA spoke about the state and prospects for the development of Uzbek-Tajik relations, about what connects the two countries in addition to the neighborhood:
- In the beginning, I would like to quote our President Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev: “The Uzbek and Tajik peoples are like two branches of one tree, two tributaries of one river. We have one religion, common land and water. We are together in joy and sorrows, united by one destiny. Continuing the good traditions of our ancestors, we must strengthen and protect the friendship of our peoples”.
Yes, indeed, the peoples of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan though and are located in different territories, but have common roots that lead to ancient times.
Since gaining independence, no one remembered the ancient kinship of Tajiks and Uzbeks, the history of Maverannahr was considered by each people separately without mentioning that once in ancient times we were a single people.
For over a thousand years, the two peoples have lived side by side as part of the Samanid, Ghaznavid, Karakhanid, Khorezmshah and Temurid states. The two countries profess one religion - Islam of the Hanifat trend.
Today, relations between the countries are experiencing a qualitatively new level. One of the main documents defining the directions of Uzbek-Tajik cooperation are the “Treaty on Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation”, as well as “Treaty on Eternal Friendship”, “Treaty on Strategic Partnership between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan”.
- What, in your opinion, contributed to the resumption of the seemingly forgotten relations between our countries?
I can say with confidence that these positive milestones in the development of good-neighborly, fraternal ties were achieved thanks to the political will of the Leaders of our countries.
The constructive dialogue of the Heads of State contributed to the solution of many problematic issues of a regional nature.
As Sh. Mirziyoyev said, “We have a huge responsibility: we need not only to make up for lost time, but also to bring our relations to a fundamentally new level”.
- What do you mean when you talk about solving regional problems and positive achievements?
In 2017, flights between Tashkent and Dushanbe were resumed, the Galaba-Amuzang railway was restored, the A-377 international road was opened on the Samarkand-Penjikent section, and 10 checkpoints on the Uzbek-Tajik border began to work.
I would like to outline a truly historic event that took place in 2018, namely the visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan to Tajikistan, the results of which gave rise to a new history of the unity of Uzbek-Tajik relations in the spirit of good-neighborliness, friendship, brotherhood and strategic partnership in all areas of interaction.
The main success on the way of rapprochement and strengthening of cooperation between our republics was the signing in 2018 of the “Agreement on mutual trips of citizens of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan”, which made life easier for millions of citizens of both sides.
In addition, this Agreement contributed to an increase in the tourist flow, visits to relatives, as well as the establishment of cross-border trade. In the same year, supplies of Uzbek gas to the neighboring republic were resumed. Mutually beneficial relations in water use have been established.
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan actively support each other in international and regional structures, such as the UN, SCO, CIS, IFAS, OSCE, OIC, etc. That’s a given, because the countries have common views on regional and international stability, security and economic development, including on the settlement of the situation in neighboring Afghanistan.
As a striking example, it can be pointed out that Tajikistan was among the first to support the candidacy of Uzbekistan in the elections to the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2021-2023.
“We warmly welcome your decisive steps towards creating an atmosphere of friendship and good neighborliness in our common home. They are fully consonant with our goals,”said Emomali Rahmon, addressing Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
- Yes, indeed, a lot of positive moments have happened over the past few years. But what can you say about how Uzbek-Tajik relations are developing today?
Today, cooperation between our countries is characterized by positive dynamics at all levels of cooperation, including an open and constructive dialogue between parliaments, governments, ministries and departments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
On an ongoing basis, joint work is underway to strengthen regional interaction, counter terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and other destructive elements, in order to turn Central Asia into a safe and stable region.
Thanks to the efforts of the Leaders of our countries, and clearly set goals by them to increase the volume of trade, in 2018, 92 agreements and contracts for the supply of products worth $ 202.5 million were signed. In 2020, following the results of the Uzbek-Tajik Business Forum, another 306 documents were signed for $ 711.5 million.
Over the past five years, the dynamics of trade and economic relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has been rapidly gaining momentum and continues to grow progressively. Thus, in 2020, the trade turnover between the countries exceeded $ 500 million.
Within the framework of industrial cooperation in Tajikistan, 51 enterprises with the participation of Uzbek capital are active, incl. JV “Artel Avesto Electronics”, which produces household appliances that are in demand among the local population.
Another significant event in the establishment of bilateral relations was the opening, at the initiative of the Leaders of our countries, of a joint production facility for the assembly and adjustment of special communal and construction transport “TALCO-KRANTAS”, which was personally launched by Sh. Mirziyoyev and E. Rakhmon.
- Ares Marsovich, at the beginning of our interview you mentioned the kinship of our peoples, but what is the state of cultural and humanitarian cooperation between our countries?
Yes, you are right, another of the main priorities of bilateral relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is cooperation in the cultural and humanitarian sphere.
An illustrative example of these relations is the holding of the Days of Culture of Tajikistan in Tashkent, a cycle of cultural events in Dushanbe timed to coincide with the birthday of the People's Poet of Uzbekistan Erkin Vokhidov.
In 2020, a number of events were organized, including: the celebration of the 5500th anniversary of the ancient city of Sarazm in the Sughd region, the 700th anniversary of the Tajik poet and thinker Kamoli Khujandi, the International Symposium “Creativity of Kamoliddin Behzod in the context of the artistic culture of the East and West”, etc.
In September 2020, a school built by Uzbekistan was opened in the Spitamen district of Tajikistan, and as part of assistance in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, a mobile hospital was built in Dushanbe, consisting of dozens of medical boxes, which were provided by Uzbekistan along with ventilators.
- Thank you for the informative answer, and the last question: are there any barriers today for the further development of Uzbek-Tajik cooperation?
At present, there are no fundamental problematic issues in bilateral relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
At the same time, our countries have a great unrealized potential in the development of closer cooperation between the two economies, incl. in the field of tourism, the implementation of large infrastructure projects, the processing of agricultural products, the creation of joint clusters for the production of finished goods with high added value and their export to third countries.
In my opinion, Tashkent and Dushanbe have enough points of contact in order to claim the role of drivers of regional cooperation in the future, while maintaining and further development of active political and economic interaction. Strengthening cooperation between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, in fact, can play an important role for the sustainable development of the Central Asian region.