Uzbekistan’s president Shavkat Mirziyoyev has paid an official visit to Moscow. During the stay special focus was on the summit talks of the presidents of two states. The international analytical center “Rethinking Russia” talked to Aleksandr Gushchin, political expert (Department of Post-Soviet Countries of the Russian State University for the Humanities), about the key topics discussed and prospects of Russian-Uzbek dialogue.
RR: From your point of view, to which topics discussed by the presidents should we pay attention?
AG: First of all, the issue of security in Central Asia was at the top of the agenda. The region is crucial to the post-Soviet area, but there is no stability. Uzbekistan is one of the key stakeholders in Central Asia. It should be mentioned that since the collapse of the Soviet Union Uzbekistan has been good at holding ground, carrying out an isolationist foreign policy. It seems that, despite some peculiarities of its home affairs, Uzbekistan shows evidence of peaceful, gradual transit in the future. At the same time the country is Russia’s key regional partner. One of the most serious problems of Uzbekistan is Islamic radicalism (especially in the eastern regions and Fergana Valley). Russia can provide necessary help to address the problem.
The possibility of liberalization of regime for Uzbek migrants (first of all, labour migrants) should also be emphasized. Of course, in this context Uzbekistan differs significantly from Kyrgyzstan, where a significant share of GDP proceeds from labour migrants. But still this issue is also at the top of the agenda.
Finally, the parties also touched upon political aspects of cooperation, including Uzbekistan’s future in the integration associations of the post-Soviet area.
RR: What do you think about Uzbekistan’s future in the integration associations of the post-Soviet area?
AG: This a debated question. I personally believe that there are some prerequisites for Uzbekistan’s return to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Nevertheless, it seems like Uzbekistan will pursue a careful foreign policy. Integration associations of the post-Soviet area are undergoing some difficulties, while Uzbekistan has a developed national security system and armed forces (in particular, a border between Uzbekistan and troubled Afghanistan is safeguarded properly). So, this makes me think that the current status of Uzbekistan in the international arena will be preserved for long time.
RR: In which areas, from your point of view, cooperation could be closer? And what is, in your opinion, the role of inter-parliamentary cooperation?
AG: Russian-Uzbek relations today show a considerable potential for growth and development. Not least of all are cultural and humanitarian spheres. Tashkent is a big cultural and education center, so cooperation in the sphere of education, for instance, introducing double degree programs, seems quite logical. In short, there are many forms of interaction that could be developed. Inter-parliamentary cooperation can provide tools for this. I will repeat myself, nowadays there are practically no issues in Central Asia that can be settled without Uzbekistan. And this means that Russia will continue to keep an ear to the ground.
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