03/04/2021, 14.30
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Moscow strengthens alliances in Central Asia

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Shavkat Mirziyoyev's trip to Russia in preparation for the signing of a strategic and global partnership between the two countries. China and Russia major trading partners. Attempts to establish access to the Indian Ocean, passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will visit Russia at the beginning of next April. Yesterday, March 3, Uzbekistan’s foreign minister Abdelaziz Kamilov and his Russian counterpart Sergej Lavrov met in Moscow to prepare for the future meeting (photo 1).

On the occasion, 30 documents will be signed, including the declaration on the strategic and global partnership between Russia and Uzbekistan. It should represent the synthesis of what the two sides have been trying to achieve for several years, and be the foundation for future cooperation.

Mirziyoyev went to Moscow for the first time in 2016, immediately after his election as president, and the visit was reciprocated by Putin in Tashkent in 2018 (photo 2). The interests of the two countries are not limited to economic agreements: they include political and military issues in an area disputed by East and West. Russia is Uzbekistan's second largest trading partner, with a turnover of 5.9 billion dollars, yielding only to China, which is winning with 6.4 billion dollars in the land of the ancient Timurid empire.

In Russian-Uzbek relations, the most pressing problem concerns migrant workers, who are trying to move to Russia from all over Central Asia. Uzbekistan is the first of these countries to participate in the pilot project, which allows Russian regions and companies to obtain the necessary agreements to give migrants work visas. The first region to apply this agreement was the Leningrad region (which has kept the Soviet name), around the capital St. Petersburg. In this way, Russia strengthens its positions in Central Asia, greatly expanding the market for non-primary production.

Moscow also helps Uzbekistan in the fight against Covid-19 by registering the Sputnik-V vaccine for local production in Tashkent, which will be used together with the Uzbek-Chinese vaccine ZF-UZ-VAC 2021.

In the military field, after the end of 'the USSR has remained in Uzbekistan weapons and technologies belonging to the "Military Department of Turkestan", hitherto little used, due to the absence of military conflicts on Uzbek territory. A renewal of armaments is now necessary, and Russia offers the most advantageous conditions.

Uzbekistan itself aspires to play a leading role in the region, promoting "the convergence between Central and South Asia", in the words of Kamilov.

A special conference is being prepared in Tashkent in July 2021, to which the Russian Minister Lavrov has been invited.

It will also study new communication routes to the Indian Ocean, despite the uncertainties of the Afghan territory.

Lavrov noted that "there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict, as history has shown several times, and it can only be resolved through political and diplomatic channels, and the participation of Uzbekistan is central in this".

Another project presented by Kamilov is the construction of the Mazar-i-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway line, which will connect Uzbekistan with Pakistan, allowing commercial cargoes to reach Indian Ocean ports. In this way, Uzbekistan, a country that has so far remained completely isolated within its borders, would inaugurate a new season of wide-ranging relations, trying not to be dominated by the main players in the Central Asian region.

Feeling the pinch of the pandemic economic crisis, Uzbekistan is also seeking help to solve various social problems within it. Education Minister Abdukadir Tashkulov announced on March 2 a support measure for students who cannot pay their rent during their studies, dividing them into three categories: green, yellow and red, depending on the level of economic need.

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