Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan unlocking vast economic potential for regional benefit - round-up of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's visit to Baku

Politics Materials 24 August 2023 09:40 (UTC +04:00)
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 24. Historically, bilateral meetings between the leadership of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan have consistently occurred within an atmosphere of amicable relations and mutual esteem. On this occasion as well, the scenario remained unchanged.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s visit to Azerbaijan on August 22-23 has paved the way for fruitful cooperation between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan across all domains for the years ahead.

As President Ilham Aliyev noted during the joint press conference with the President of Uzbekistan, the results that have already been achieved show that both the countries are on the right track.

"Both in our one-on-one meeting and during the meeting with the participation of members of delegations, all these successes in strengthening our interaction were analyzed in detail and ways of developing the future of our relations in all areas were discussed and determined – from joint activities on international platforms, our interaction within the framework of international organizations up until issues of energy, transport, economic interaction, the humanitarian sphere. In other words, within the framework of our meetings and negotiations, we have essentially determined the future development of our relations," President Ilham Aliyev said.

During the visit, a number of prominent bilateral documents were signed. Perhaps, among all of them, a "Contract on establishment of the Supreme Interstate Council between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Uzbekistan" is the most significant one. This contract is set to bring the relations between the two countries on the government level to the whole other dimension.

Within the framework of bilateral talks, the leaders of the both countries have discussed matters concerning industrial cooperation. In the previous month, a working session of the intergovernmental commission took place in the city of Shusha, thoroughly scrutinizing the full scope of the mutual engagement.

In this regard, the sides assessed that positive opportunities emerge within the energy sector, where both SOCAR and Uzbekneftegaz maintain robust collaboration. Within the realm of transportation and logistics, both sides are witnessing a rise in freight movement and, notably, an expansion of potential for cooperative endeavors in this domain.

This year, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan signed a bilateral agreement to establish an investment fund worth $500 million. During the negotiations held within President Mirziyoyev’s visit to Baku, the sides have agreed that the capital of the fund should be increased. As of July 1, 2023, there are 204 enterprises with Azerbaijani capital in Uzbekistan (compared to 71 in 2017), of which 67 are joint ventures and 137 are foreign enterprises. Some 22 joint ventures have been established since the beginning of the current year. This fund, in turn, is expected to play a significant role in enhancing economic cooperation, supporting the launch of new joint investment projects, and playing a part in creating new job opportunities.

"If it weren’t for time constraints, as Ilham Heydarovich said, we would tell you about all the projects. But, I think we will still have many more meetings, and we will tell you. These are very serious projects to ensure a different level of relations, a different level of industrial localization, a different level of transport logistics, because today the transport component in general is a very serious component for us, for Uzbekistan. And we are determining our directions together with the nearest country - Azerbaijan. I think that this is the only right decision. If we do everything we agreed on today, they will be implemented, there will be success both for the economy of Uzbekistan and for the economy of Azerbaijan," President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said in his statement to the press.

Another significant event, which took place within President Mirziyoyev's visit to Azerbaijan is the commencement of the secondary school No. 1 named after Mirzo Ulugbek in Fuzuli. The school built in Fuzuli as a gift from President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev on behalf of the Uzbek people had the capacity to accommodate 960 students. Construction started last year and was completed with high quality. The school building constructed on an area of 3 hectares has two floors and a basement. The school has 40 classrooms, six laboratories, two computer classes, five functional study rooms, a 500-seat assembly hall, a gym, a 320-seat cafeteria, and a library. A football pitch, places for recreation and events, running tracks, chat rooms, a checkpoint, a boiler room, water tanks, and a transformer substation have been built in the courtyard of the school. Construction has been carried out with high quality.

"This is the first gift of a foreign state in the restoration of Karabakh, and we highly appreciate this gesture of brotherhood, solidarity and support – not to mention the fact that this school is actually a palace of education.…The school bears the name of the great son of the Uzbek people, Mirzo Ulugbek, and I am sure that it will not only be a center of education, but also a center of our friendship and brotherhood," President Ilham Aliyev said at the joint press conference with his Uzbek counterpart.

In truth, it's not entirely justified to focus solely on a couple of aspects of the bilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Baku and Tashkent maintain a strategic partnership, making every facet of their bilateral cooperation strategically significant within the broader context of their relationship. Regular contacts on the highest level between the two countries speak for themselves. President Ilham Aliyev announced during the joint press conference with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev that he will pay a visit to Uzbekistan by the year-end. This once again will reinforce the importance of these bilateral relations. Considering the agreements reached as of today, it is possible to say that the future development of Azeri-Uzbek relationship will be bright and bring only the best for both nations.