President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by saying that these talks today took place in very friendly and constructive spirit.
It is a genuine pleasure to welcome Mr Mirziyoyev, who is in Russia on a state visit, and is visiting our country for the first time as President of Uzbekistan. We value his desire to strengthen our strategic partnership and alliance relation in every area.
Our bilateral cooperation is based on solid traditions of friendship and mutual support that have stood the test of time. On March 20, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Over these years, we have achieved substantial success in developing our multifaceted and mutually advantageous cooperation.
At today’s meeting, first in narrow format and then with the participation of the deputy prime ministers, key ministers and heads of our biggest companies, we had made a detailed examination of the current state of bilateral cooperation, discussed in depth the prospects for developing our ties, and outlined the priority areas and concrete tasks for our work together in various areas.
This is reflected in the documents signed today, in the Joint Statement and in the solid package of intergovernmental, inter-agency and corporate documents.
Of course, one of the main focuses of these very substantive talks was how to deepen our trade and economic cooperation. I stress that our countries are actively developing these important ties, taking into account the high degree of mutual complementarity between our respective economies. We seek more effective integration on the basis of mutual advantage and consideration for each other’s interests.
Russia is Uzbekistan’s biggest trade partner. Our bilateral intergovernmental commission has drafted and is implementing with success a large-scale economic cooperation development programme through to 2019. Last year, our bilateral trade came to $2.7 billion, which represents more than 17 percent of Uzbekistan’s foreign trade balance. Russian investment in Uzbekistan’s economy came to more than $6 billion.
We are happy to see the high level of bilateral cooperation in the energy sector. Russia is buying more than 5 billion cubic metres of gas from Uzbekistan. Our companies Gazprom and LUKOIL are carrying out large joint hydrocarbon projects in Uzbekistan. Our company Siloviye Mashiny is helping to modernise important electricity system infrastructure facilities in Uzbekistan – the Syr Darya Power Station and the Charvak Hydroelectric Power Station.
Mr Mirziyoyev and I agreed to give additional instructions to our governments to develop industrial cooperation and expand joint production of goods with high added value. We support the plans by Rostec, Rostselmash, GAZ Group and their Uzbekistani partners to launch new projects in the automotive industry, machine-building, civil aviation and pharmaceuticals.
We agreed to continue efforts to encourage increased Uzbekistani exports of agricultural goods and foodstuffs to Russia. These exports more than doubled over the last year alone and come to 142,800 tonnes, so as to have an idea what this means in practical terms.
This is in large part the result of joint efforts to implement the President of Uzbekistan’s initiative to establish a so-called ‘green corridor’ for quicker and unhindered supplies of agricultural goods across our borders. Russia’s decision to lower transport costs for transport of a number of goods of importance for the country has also been of help in this area.
We expressed our support for more active efforts to develop interregional cooperation and deepen our humanitarian ties. We have some practical decisions. I think the President of Uzbekistan will say more about this now. We have organisational decisions that I also think important, decisions on establishing new mechanisms that Russia has been using with success in its relations with other countries.
As you know, the Days of Russian Culture were successfully held in Uzbekistan last November. This year, we plan to hold Uzbekistan Culture Days in Russia.
This evening, Mr Mirziyoyev and I will visit the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts for the opening of The Treasures of Nukus exhibition. It includes works of art and archaeological items from Uzbek museums, including from the collection of the famed Russian painter and ethnographer Igor Savitsky, who has done a great deal to promote Russian culture in the East.
It is gratifying that people in Uzbekistan want to study in Russia. There are some 22,000 students from Uzbekistan at Russian universities, and this is one of the largest groups, compared to students from other CIS countries. We are ready to continue to provide comprehensive assistance in training skilled professionals, including Russian language teachers, for Uzbekistan. By the way, a big thank you to the President and all our Uzbek partners and friends for maintaining the high status of the Russian language in their republic. Russian is taught at many schools, at hundreds of schools, and over 60 universities offer tuition in the Russian language.
Of course, during our talks today we held a deep discussion of current regional and global issues. I would like to say that Russia and Uzbekistan have similar or identical positions on many of these issues.
Our countries are working together to strengthen stability and security in Central Asia and assist national reconciliation in Afghanistan. They call on the international community to join forces against terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and organised cross-border crime, coordinate their actions at the UN and successfully cooperate within the CIS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the President and all our Uzbek friends for the meaningful and productive talks and for the thorough preparation of your President’s first state visit to Russia. Mr President, I am convinced that your visit will help strengthen the truly friendly and allied relations between the people of Russia and Uzbekistan. Thank you for your attention.
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev: Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims who died in the explosion in the St Petersburg metro. We strongly condemn this act committed by terrorists and their accomplices, and affirm that we are ready to actively cooperate in fighting challenges and threats for the security of our countries and the entire region.
I would like to once again express my sincere gratitude to President Putin for the invitation to come to the Russian Federation on a state visit, as well as the warm welcome and hospitality extended to our delegation. We, in Uzbekistan, greatly value the strategic partnership and alliance of our countries, and will do our best to take them to the next level.
This state visit by the delegation of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Russian Federation serves as clear confirmation of this. It is of great importance for me, our entire delegation, and our entire country. Our meeting once again showed that Uzbekistan and Russia share long-term interests.
Mutual aspirations will fill our strategic partnership and allied relations with new practical content, targets, concrete programmes, and projects.
This visit is even more important in view of the rapidly changing international situation, the growing number of conflicts and acts of violence, the rapid spread of various transnational risks and security challenges. During our substantive talks, Mr Putin and I, as usual, had an open and confidential exchange views on key issues of regional security and the international situation.
I want the media to understand that today's atmosphere is one of trust and candour, which provides a solid ground for our relationship.
We have also comprehensively analysed the state of our relations and agreed on concrete measures to further expand our multifaceted practical cooperation.
I am pleased to note that we have shared views and approaches on the majority of issues under consideration. Special attention was given to the situation in Afghanistan. We are convinced that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem. The only way is through peaceful political talks under the aegis of the United Nations. Uzbekistan supports Russia’s efforts to find ways of resolving the Afghan conflict and will attend an extended meeting in Moscow on April 14.
We have also agreed to work together more closely to prevent growing regional security threats and challenges. An important condition for the maintenance of stability is to promote an atmosphere rejecting the ideology of extremism in any forms and manifestations and to identify and eliminate the causes of radicalisation.
We intend to continue our close cooperation in the international arena, including at the UN, the SCO, the CIS and other influential international organisations.
It should be noted with satisfaction that our talks have resulted in the signing of an unprecedented package of documents, including a Joint Statement by the Presidents of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Russia, as well as over 50 economic, investment, energy, military-technical, cultural, humanitarian and other agreements and contracts. The total portfolio of joint trade and investment projects exceeds $15 billion.
We have agreed to ensure comprehensive development and to move ahead with the implementation of major projects in various economic sectors, and to foster trade ties and long-term partnership.
Our partners include such well-known Russian companies and corporations as Gazprom, LUKOIL and Rostec, among others. On the whole, today there are almost 1,000 enterprises with the participation of our Russian partners in Uzbekistan and about 600 enterprises with Uzbek capital in Russia.
Needless to say, interregional cooperation is a very promising area. I would like to say something about this. Mr Putin, thank you very much for your assistance. You know, when regions meet they decide a lot directly and there are tangible results. This speaks to the fact that regions want to meet. They want to trade and visit each other. Very good results have been achieved. I have talked to our governors. They will be happy to continue.
Today, Mr Putin and I agreed to hold business forums in Russia and Uzbekistan in alternate years. I invited Mr Putin to attend a major business forum which we will hold in Bukhara, Khorezm or Samarkand next year. Both presidents attending this forum will be a good follow-up to the intergovernmental agreement on regional cooperation which we signed today. You know, we have things to discuss during our meetings at the interregional level.
I am confident that a vibrant dialogue between our countries’ regions based on the intergovernmental agreement signed today will, already in the near future, produce concrete results in the form of finished targeted projects, joint enterprises making popular products, and active cultural exchanges.
Cultural and humanitarian cooperation is an important component of our relations. About one million of our citizens are of Russian ethnicity, and they do their fair share to develop our country. The Republican Russian Cultural Centre, which has branches in all regions of our country, actively participates in organising many important public events. Education in Russian is provided at 836 schools and almost all universities of Uzbekistan. Mr Putin noted this fact in particular, and the Russian language is indeed an asset which we will always cherish and preserve, because it means a lot to us. Numerous mass media outlets, institutions of culture and art operate in Russian. In addition, branches of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, and the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas do good work in Uzbekistan as well.
I would also like to note the success of the current exhibition of masterpieces from our Savitsky Musem of Arts collection at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. It is my pleasure to invite all members of the media present here to visit it. In fact, it is, without exaggeration, a Louvre in the Steppe. You see, I could talk a lot about this but it is very good when we enrich ourselves culturally. There is a very good, solid foundation to this.
In addition, today we have signed a separate intergovernmental agreement to foster full-scale cooperation in healthcare, medical education and science. I am convinced that this visit, its constructive results, will further strengthen our strategic partnership and alliance and will serve our countries’ interests.
I would also like to tell you about my invitation to Mr Putin to visit Uzbekistan. We have agreed to hold a business forum next year and I, our delegation and I, personally invite you, Mr Putin.
Finally, I would like to say sincerely that the atmosphere, openness and trust of our today’s meeting is of fundamental importance. We found something useful for each other and we found mutual understanding on many sensitive issues. Mr Putin has already addressed all questions that we had and issued instructions. Instructions were issued with regard to all questions. In the economic sphere, the finance ministries, the Tax Service of Uzbekistan and the Russian Federal Taxation Service received instructions.
I would like to say that we, our entire delegation, are leaving with a sense of satisfaction and encouragement. I believe that today’s visit will be a major result, the embodiment of the goals that we have been moving toward. Once again, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr Putin for promoting this atmosphere.
Thank you very much.