Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 24th, 2017

25th Anniversary of Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan

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25th Anniversary of Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan

October 13 this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The first documents regulating the Uzbek-Afghan relations were signed in October 1992, during the visit of the head of Afghanistan Burhanuddin Rabbani to Uzbekistan. Since then, bilateral relations between the countries have been developing in a constructive spirit taking into account mutual interests.
A significant impetus to the development of bilateral relations was given during the meeting of the First President of our country Islam Karimov with the head of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani in June 2016 within the framework of the Tashkent SCO summit. The subsequent meeting of the Afghan leader with the Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on September 3, 2016 in Samarkand gave a fundamentally new quality to cooperation between the countries.
Meetings of heads of states as well as ministries and state departments on regular basis gives the evidence of the high level of interaction between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. This year only, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh.M.Mirziyoyev held three meetings with the leader of Afghanistan A.Gani within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Organization of Islamic Cooperation summits (Astana) as well as UN General Assembly (New York). Currently, the issue of Afghan President's visit to Tashkent is under consideration.
In January 2017, the delegation of Uzbekistan lead by with the Minister of Foreign Affairs A.Kamilov visited Afghanistan. During the stay in the city of Kabul, negotiations were held with the president of Afghanistan A. Gany, the executive chairman of the government A. Abdullah, the foreign minister S.Rabbani and other representatives of state bodies. As a result of the meetings, a number of documents on bilateral cooperation were signed in the political and trade-economic realms including the Action plan ("Road Map") for the further development of full-scale cooperation between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
In addition, the parties announced their intention to increase mutual trade turnover from USD 400 million to 1.5 billion by the end of this year. During the visit, the Trade House of Uzbekistan was opened in Kabul which was another confirmation of the parties' commitment to intensification of trade and economic cooperation.
In this context, it should be noted that the establishment of the Special Representative of the Uzbekistan's President to Afghanistan in May 2017 shows the distinct attitude of the Uzbek leadership to the whole all-round relations with Afghanistan.
Moreover, in July this year a delegation from Afghanistan consisting of the presidential adviser on national security issues H. Atmar, the senior presidential adviser on infrastructure, human resources and technology H.Kayumi, the president's special representative for development of cooperation with the CIS countries and Russia Sh. Korgan and other officials visited Uzbekistan. During the visit, the Afghan delegation held a number of bilateral meetings in a number of ministries, state departments and leading enterprises of Uzbekistan to discuss concrete proposals for expanding bilateral cooperation.
All these events are the consequences of modern Uzbek-Afghan relations, demonstrating dynamism, deep mutual trust, business spirit and the broadest prospects for good-neighborliness and cooperation.
The principled position of the Republic of Uzbekistan towards Afghanistan for three decades has laid a solid foundation for a confident and consistent development of bilateral cooperation covering the interests of both countries.
First, since the first years of independence, Uzbekistan has positioned itself as a country that has always taken an unbiased, principled approach to the resolution of the Afghan problem and constructive line without promoting own interests. The Republic of Uzbekistan has traditionally pursued a good-neighborly friendly policy towards the IRA taking into account historical experience and a strong commitment to long-term stability in this country.
In his speech at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh. Mirziyoyev stated that "the only way to peace in Afghanistan is a direct dialogue without preconditions, between the central government and the main domestic political forces. Negotiations should take place with the predominant role of the Afghan people in Afghanistan and under the auspices of the United Nations. The wise Afghan people have the right to determine their own fate independently".
Second, Uzbekistan demonstrates its determination in helping to stabilize Afghanistan by implementing exact projects for the peaceful construction of the economy of a neighboring state. In particular, in 2010 Uzbekistan completed the construction of the "Hairaton - Mazar-i-Sharif railway. At the appeal of the Afghan government, Uzbekistan has built 11 bridges and crossings on the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul road section. After commissioning in 2010 of LEP-220 "Hairaton-Puli-Khumri-Kabul", the capital of the IRA was provided with electricity from Uzbekistan.
Third, solid legal framework of bilateral relations has been created, containing about 40 documents on cooperation in various fields including political and trade as well as economic partnership. Thus, on March 15, 2015, the Railway company "Uzbekistan Temir Yollari" and the Ministry of Public Affairs of the IRA have concluded a new 3-year contract for the management, operation, maintenance and training of railway personnel.
Fourth, Uzbek-Afghan relations have been successfully diversified in a wide range of areas and cover all important spheres of cooperation - trade and economic, investment, political, etc. 70 enterprises operate in Uzbekistan with the participation of the Afghan side counting 20 enterprises with 100% foreign capital. 12 Afghan representative offices and companies are accredited in Uzbekistan operation in the sectors of services, trade operations, production of building materials. On the territory of Afghanistan, 6 enterprises with the participation of the Uzbekistan's residents were established.
Fifth, the cultural and humanitarian cooperation between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan is not remaining without attention. It  is proved by an increase in delegation exchange between the parties. Afghan musical groups are regular participants of the international music festival "Shark Taronalari". In 2013, the Afghan group Obshor gained the first place in the the festival. Cooperation continues within scientific and educational programs. In 2014, the Afghan delegation headed by the Director of the Academy of Sciences M.Afzali visited Uzbekistan in the fraework of an international conference dedicated to the great historical scholars and personalities.
In March 2016, the delegation of Uzbekistan headed by the chairman of the "International Fund" named after Babur Z.Mashrabov was in the city of Herat and carried out restoration and landscaping works around the mausoleum of Alisher Navoi, and also reassembled the tomb of Kamaliddin Behzod.
Currently, the issues of short-term vocational education programs for advanced training of the Uzbek language teachers of Afghanistan's higher educational institutions as well as training of Afghan citizens in the fields related of railway transportation at the Tashkent Institute of Railway Engineers are at the stage of elaboration.
All these points are positive results and at the same time a solid basis for the further development of friendship, good-neighborliness and alliance of the two countries in the twenty-first century.
In general, it should be noted that Uzbekistan will continue to take effective steps to strengthen good-neighborly relations based on mutually beneficial cooperation with Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, the developing constructive bilateral dialogue, coupled with the implementation of promising joint projects in the trade, economic, investment, transport and communication spheres will contribute not only to the sustainable economic prosperity of Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, but also contribute to the strengthening security in the region.

Mustafayev Bahtiyor Rustamovich is the Deputy Head of the Center Institute of Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

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