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Korea, Uzbekistan mark 20th year of diplomatic relations

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The following message by Ambassador Vitali Fen of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Republic of Korea was contributed to The Korea Post for publication on the occa­sion of the 20th anniversary of establish­ment of diplomatic relations between Ko­rea and Uzbekistan.-Ed.

It is a high privilege for me to address today the esteemed readers of "The Korea Post" on the occasion of an im­portant landmark both for Uzbek­istan and the Republic of Korea-the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of diplo­matic relations between the two countries that is celebrated on January 29.

The foundation of bilateral relations be­tween our states was laid on December 30, 1991, when the Republic of Korea among the first countries recognized Uzbekistan's independence. Subsequent­ly, the diplomatic relations were estab­lished on January 29, 1992. Ever since our countries have been engaged in vigorous political dialogue. The intensity of close co­operation can be manifested by the fact that over the past 20 years there have been eleven summit meetings between our heads of state.

Within a short, from historical point of view, period of time our countries have gained enormous experience of mutually beneficial cooperation in political, trade-in­vestment and cultural-humanitarian ar­eas that serves as a solid foundation for further implementation of long-term pro­jects between Uzbekistan and the Repub­lic of Korea.

In March of 2006 during the State visit to the Republic of Korea by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan His Excel­lency Islam Karimov a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between our countries was signed that greatly con­tributed to furthering and strengthening multifaceted Uzbek-Korean relations and elevated them to a new qualitative level.

The State visit by the President of the Republic of Korea His Excellency Lee Myung-bak to Uzbekistan that took place in August 2011 became an important step in the process of furthering Uzbek-Korean diversified relations and filled them with practical content of strategic partnership between our nations.

Over the 20 years of diplomatic rela­tions we have laid a solid legal basis for bi­lateral cooperation which today encom­passes more than 200 documents that streamline collaboration in different fields.

Uzbekistan and South Korea on the ba­sis of reciprocity render support for posi­tions of each other on various important regional and international issues. In par­ticular, Uzbekistan welcomed the outcome of a G-20 summit that Seoul hosted in November of 2010. This event has consoli­dated an active mediating role of the Re­public of Korea in a dialogue between the developed and developing countries thus strengthening its authority and influence on the world arena.

Uzbekistan, as an initiator of establish­ing the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, strongly sup­ports a non-nuclear status for the Korean Peninsula. In this context, it entirely sup­ports a diplomatic solution of the nuclear issue of North Korea in the framework of the six-party talks.

Our countries are interested in quick stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan and believe that implementa­tion of various international projects and programs of the post-conflict social-economic rehabilitation of Afghanistan nowa­days acquires especial importance.

We have achieved a notable success in the area of promoting inter-parliamentary cooperation. In 1995, in the National As­sembly of the Republic of Korea a Parlia­mentary Association of Friendship "Korea-Uzbekistan" was founded. In 2005, in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan a similar group of cooperation with Korea was established.

I am very pleased to note that just re­cently on the eve of the 20th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between our coun­tries the Speaker of the National Assem­bly of South Korea His Excellency Park Нее Тае has visited Uzbekistan. During his meetings with President Islam Kari­mov, Chairwoman of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis Diloram Tashmukhamedova and Chairman of the Sen­ate Ilgizar Sabirov they have discussed ways of further strengthening bilateral re­lations as well as shared the common posi­tion on the importance of expanding inter­parliamentary relations that are con­ducive to that process.

Since 1995 Foreign Ministries of the two countries have been on regular basis holding their political consultations. The last session of such consultations took place in Tashkent in May of 2011. These meetings provide the parties with an op­portunity in a frank manner to discuss all aspects of bilateral relations, exchange of views on important international and re­gional issues that are of mutual interest.

Since 2007 an Annual Forum "Republic of Korea - Central Asia" has been con­vened. Its primary purpose to strengthen and expand cooperation in the area of economy, culture, education, tourism as well as to share with experience in the field of information-telecommunication technology, construction and transporta­tion. The last, fifth, session of the Forum took place in Tashkent in November of 2011. Given the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations be­tween South Korea and Central Asian states the next session of the Forum will be held in Seoul on the level of Foreign Ministers.

The two countries also successfully co­operate on municipality level. Currently, there are agreements on collaboration be­tween cities Tashkent and Seoul, Fer­ghana and Yongin, Namangan and Seongnam.

I would like also to note with satisfac­tion a sustainable tendency of expanding trade-economic and investment coopera­tion as well as a constant increase of two-way commerce that in 2010 amounted to $1.6 billion.

During the State visit of President Lee Myung-bak to Uzbekistan last August a number of important bilateral documents were signed that gave great impetus to deepening cooperation in trade-economic, investment and energy sectors. One of them is a project of constructing on the ba­sis of the Surgil gas deposit an Ustyurt Gas-Chemical Complex on manufacturing polyethylene and polypropylene that would facilitate to creation of a large num­ber of cooperation plants. The estimated cost of this project is $2.6 billion with an­nual production over $1.6 billion.

There are a myriad of opportunities for enhancing investment cooperation in min­ing, oil-gas, petrochemical, construction, automobile-manufacturing and textile in­dustries as well as in agriculture sector and in the field of energy saving technolo­gies.

Today in the Republic of Uzbekistan there are more than 360 enterprises with the Korean side participation, out of which 59 are with hundred percent Korean capi­tals. They function in the area of trade, light, mining, chemical and food indus­tries, as well as in the sector of machine-building, metal-working manu­facturing, healthcare, tourism and ser­vices. Currently, 84 Korean companies are registered at the Ministry for Foreign Eco­nomic, Investment and Trade of the Re­public of Uzbekistan.

The aggregate volume of announced Ko­rean investments into the economy of Uzbekistan today exceeded $5 billion, including $2 billion that have been already drawn.

One of the promising areas of bilateral cooperation is the implementation of vari­ous projects in the Free Industrial-Eco­nomic Zone "Navoi" (FIEZ). Consolidation of opportunities that provide the FIEZ and International logistic center at the Airport of Navoi, which is currently managed by the leading world cargo carrier - Korean Air, creates exceptional conditions for de­veloping highly remunerative production and swift delivery of manufactured prod­ucts to world markets through an effective system of multimodal transportation by air, trucks and railroads.

In 2011 more than 50 thousand tons of cargo was shipped through Navoi Airport. The cargo terminal of this multimodal center has the capacity to process daily about 300 tons of cargo and 100 thousands tons annually.

Another important area for cooperation is the implementation of various projects pertaining to attracting to our country high innovative technologies aimed at cre­ating new and upgrading current produc­tion lines. Within this cooperation Uzbek­istan has started producing high valued products based on advanced science inten­sive technologies and become one of the world auto manufacturers.

At the present time active bilateral co­operation is underway thanks to technical assistance of the Government of the Re­public of Korea that is rendered through the Korean Agency for International Co­operation (KOICA). As of today more than 1240 representatives of different min­istries and agencies of Uzbekistan have undergone trainings in South Korea through KOICA' s programs.

Our countries also successfully cooper­ate in the cultural-humanitarian field. In order to strengthen mutual understand­ing between the people of the two coun­tries, we have agreed on expanding hu­manitarian exchanges and interactions in the area of education, tourism and sport as well as on creating in Tashkent the Seoul Park.

The Korean Diaspora in Uzbekistan, that is the forth largest one in the world after China, the United States and Japan, plays an important role in strengthening friendly relations between our two coun­tries.

Since 1999 the Society of Friendship "Uzbekistan- Korea" has been functioning in our republic. In addition, a Korean Cen­ter of education has been operating in Tashkent since 1992. It organizes on com­petitive basis language training and courses in Korea for Uzbekistan's teach­ers and students to increase their profi­ciency level on the Korean language. Cur­rently, Korean is taught in 13 Universities and in more than 100 schools and lyceums of Uzbekistan.

The implementation of a project on opening in Tashkent of a Center for pro­fessional training "Uzbekistan-Korea" has become another success story in the area of education. Annually more than 360 young people of Uzbekistan will study in Korea on computer assembling, graphic arts, electrical engineering, repairing of agricultural machinery, and cars mainte­nance.

Successful cooperation is also underway in area of sport. South Korea renders as­sistance in developing Taekwondo in our country by providing training classes for Uzbek athletes in Korea as well as by sending to Uzbekistan Korean instructors and coaches. Thanks to this assistance three sportsmen from Uzbekistan on Taek­wondo have passed the qualification and will represent our country in the next Summer Olympic Games in London.

The Uzbek side has welcomed the selec­tion by the International Olympic Com­mittee of Pyeongchang as the venue for the Winter Olympic Games - 2018. In Uzbekistan we believe that this decision of IOC is the recognition of Republic Korea's contribution to the world sport, its grow­ing economic potential and vigorous ef­forts undertaken by its leadership.

In general, since the establishment of diplomatic relations the Republic of Korea has been and remains for Uzbekistan a time-tested and reliable, in all respect, strategic partner that renders coherent support in implementing in our country important national programs of drastic re­forms and modernization of economy and social sphere. In this regard Uzbekistan strives for further developing and strengthening mutually beneficial rela­tions with the Republic of Korea that serve the interest of the two countries and their peoples.

In conclusion, taking this opportunity, I would like to wish to the esteemed readers of this reputed magazine every success in all their endeavors, longevity and well-be­ing.

"Korea Post"