Further dynamic development of friendly and good-neighborly relations with Kyrgyzstan remains one of the main priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign policy, Ramziddin Gulyamov, a leading researcher at the International Institute of Central Asia (IICA), said in an interview with “Dunyo” IA.

Describing the current state of Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations, the expert said at the beginning of the conversation:

- First of all, I want to note that Kyrgyzstan is our closest neighbor, with which we are linked by a long-term common history, culture, the similarity of language, and spiritual values. Fraternal ties have been established between the peoples of our countries since ancient times, predetermined by a centuries-old common history and close spiritual and cultural heritage.

Diplomatic relations between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were established in February 1993. At present, the common legal framework consists of more than 200 documents, among which the Treaty on eternal friendship between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic (December 1996) and the Declaration on strategic partnership, strengthening friendship, good neighborliness, and trust between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic (October 2017).

Despite different periods in bilateral relations, the leaders of our countries, relying on strong historical ties and centuries-old bonds of brotherhood, were able not only to maintain mutual respect but also recently to bring them to a qualitatively new level of interaction. Today, thanks to the political will of the Presidents of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, in a relatively short time, the parties managed to remove many conflict issues and give cooperation a positive dynamic in all areas of interaction.

A clear confirmation of the high level of relations between the two countries is reflected by regular meetings at the highest levels, including on the fields of major international and regional organizations within the framework of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-speaking States and other international structures, etc.

- How do you assess the results of the recent visit of the President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov to Uzbekistan?

- The fruitful meeting of the leaders of the two states, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Sadyr Japarov, is an important political event in Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations.

I would like to note that during the talks, which took place in an open, constructive, and friendly atmosphere, the parties discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation, including issues of water use and energy, border delimitation, economic cooperation, and transport and logistics. In addition, the heads of state exchanged views on topical issues of the regional and international agenda.

The presidents once again emphasized their commitment to the course of strengthening Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations in the spirit of friendship, good neighborliness, trust, and strategic partnership. We emphasized that the further development of mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation meets mutual interests. The important role of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz Intergovernmental Commission on Bilateral Cooperation was admitted.

A Plan of Practical Measures ("Road Map") was signed to expand and deepen cooperation between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in the field of industrial cooperation, providing for the implementation of 60 projects worth $ 550 million. Among them, the creation of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz Development Fund with announced capital at the first stage in $ 50 million with a further increase to $ 200 million.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that on the issues of delimitation and demarcation of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz state border, the heads of the two countries unanimously agreed on the need to complete all issues within the next months. I hope that through the joint efforts of the relevant departments, we will be able to finally resolve this issue.

In total, following the talks, 22 documents were signed, the main of which is the Joint Statement of the Presidents, covering all areas of bilateral cooperation.

I am sure that the agreements reached will give an additional impetus to the further expansion of multifaceted Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations.

- Touching upon the issue of trade and economic interaction, I would like to know your opinion on the potential and plans of the two countries to increase trade turnover?

At present, the Uzbek-Kyrgyz cooperation in the trade and economic sphere, it seems to me, does not meet modern requirements and opportunities.

Although the trade turnover is increasing every year and the range of economic interaction is expanding, I am sure that there is a largely untapped economic potential.

At the same time, in recent years, the growth of bilateral trade is obvious. So, since 2016, the mutual trade turnover has grown more than 5 times and by the end of 2020 amounted to more than $ 903 million.

It is noteworthy that during the aforementioned visit of the head of the Kyrgyz Republic to Tashkent, the Uzbek-Kyrgyz business forum and the first meeting of the Business Council between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic were held on the territory of the Yashnabad technopark. During the business forum, the parties signed several investment and trade contracts aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation for a total of about $ 130 million.

It was emphasized that due to new points of growth, the parties can double their trade in the coming years and reach the figure of $ 2 billion.

I believe that the development of transport corridors and, first of all, the implementation of the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan-China railway, as well as the Tashkent-Andijan-Osh-Irkeshtam-Kashgar multimodal corridor also takes place as an important component for building up economic cooperation.

- Traditionally, an important part of Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations is interaction in the cultural and humanitarian sphere. Tell us about the state and prospects of cooperation in this area.

You are right. Nowadays cultural and humanitarian diplomacy plays an important role in strengthening international relations and mutual understanding of peoples of different countries.

In recent years, Days of Culture, festivals, and other cultural events have been held in our countries regularly. In 2018, our country widely celebrated the 90th anniversary of the great Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov.

I would like to emphasize that during the talks between the leaders of our countries, the parties signed a Plan of Joint Events for 2021-2023 on the implementation of the Agreement on cooperation in the field of culture and art.

Interaction in the educational sphere is developing fruitfully. For 2017-2020 the number of Kyrgyz citizens studying in universities in Uzbekistan increased 14 times (from 10 to 143 people), and Uzbek students in universities in Kyrgyzstan increased 7 times (from 2 thousand to 14 thousand people).

Meanwhile, cooperation in this area has great potential for development in the future. It is necessary to strengthen interuniversity ties, to promote the signing of agreements and relevant memorandums between educational institutions of the two countries.

It should be especially noted that Uzbekistan was one of the first countries to provide the necessary support to Kyrgyzstan in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus. With the financial support of the Uzbek side, in Bishkek, Batken, and Chui regions of Kyrgyzstan at the end of December 2020. opened three modular hospitals for patients affected by the coronavirus. In addition, oxygen concentrators, respirators, and other medical products were also sent.

In general, the further dynamic development of friendly and good-neighborly relations with Kyrgyzstan in all areas of mutual interest remains one of the main priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign policy. I am convinced that through joint efforts we will be able to achieve the set goals and contribute to the further development and strengthening of the strategic partnership.

Thank you for the pleasant conversation and hope for new meetings!