Uzbek-Turk deals worth $3bn
Turkey’s populist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hailed their “common values” and hoped they could revive “lost opportunities”.
“We discussed all topics related to Turkey-Uzbekistan – politics, military, economy, trade, culture, the defence industry – and what we can do in the process after this,” Erodgan told a joint news conference in Tashkent.
Bilateral trade had risen by 30 per cent to US$1.5 billion last year, according to Erdogan.
He added that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) aimed to invest US$60 million in Uzbekistan.
“Turkish businessmen plan to invest in Uzbekistan, which presents big opportunities for them,” said Erdogan, who faces re-election in a non-competitive election on June 24.
During his visit to Tashkent, Erdogan signed deals on transport, energy and tourism as part of what was apparently more than 50 investment projects worth US$3 billion, reforming Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev said.
Tensions were high under veteran dictator Islam Karimov, who accused Turkey of harbouring Uzbek dissidents.
Karimov ended visa-free travel between the two countries and broke off ties after Turkey refused to extradite Uzbek opposition leaders Muhammad Solih and Abdurahmon Polat in the mid-1990s.
The Uzbek economy saw a steady growth of around 10 per cent under Karimov., especially between 2000 and 2010, the gross domestic product increased steadily, doubling by the end of the decade.
This growth rate also generated an inflation rate of 7 to 8 per cent annually and its young population suffers from unemployment with many Uzbek citizens going abroad to find a job.
Mirziyoev has worked to improve Uzbekistan’s foreign relations since coming to power in 2016 and he visited Turkey in October.
“Uzbekistan is always open for our Turkish brothers … [the government] has opened a new page in the ties between our two nations,” the diplomatic president added.
Turkey was the first country to officially recognise the independence of the five mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking Central Asian states while the Soviet Union was collapsing in 1991.
The two leaders announced that Uzbekistan would join the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States and create a Supreme Council on the Strategic Partnership between Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan has Turkic roots. Picture credit: Eurasia Times