In global politics, there is a process in which the role of Central Asia in international equations has increased significantly. In particular, the conjuncture brought about by the Russia-Ukraine War and the withdrawal of the United States of America (USA) from Afghanistan made the region more prominent. In connection with both developments, it is seen that Uzbekistan has a rising momentum at the regional and international level. In this case, the ongoing reform processes in the country and the active attitude of the Tashkent administration towards regional issues, especially the Afghan Problem, are effective.
Recent developments based in Uzbekistan also reflect positively on the image of Tashkent in the region. In addition, Tashkent draws attention in the international community through the partnerships it has developed. The first of these developments; it is the early voting process for Uzbekistan’s new constitution referendum on April 19, 2023. Following the voting process, which will continue until April 26, 2023, a referendum will be held for the new constitution on April 30, 2023.
With the new constitution, it is expected that Uzbekistan will consolidate its “sovereign, democratic and social state of law” status. At the same time, norms regarding fundamental rights and freedoms are developed and the autonomy of the judiciary is increased. Steps aimed at providing institutional developments, improving the freedom of the press and strengthening the environment of openness and transparency in the society will contribute to the development of Uzbekistan and strengthen its international position.
Reform steps are also supported by Europe. As a matter of fact, the European Union (EU) has declared that it supports the ongoing reforms in Uzbekistan. On April 18, 2023, a meeting was held between the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and the EU delegation; reform studies in the country are also discussed. In addition, increased practical cooperation with EU institutions and progress made in the field of human rights were also evaluated.
Another prominent development in terms of relations with Europe is the visit of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, on 19 April 2023. Gilmore’s first visit to Uzbekistan is important for EU-Uzbekistan relations and human rights reforms. For this reason, it can be said that Tashkent will improve its cooperation with the UN in the future.
On the other hand, it is seen that Uzbekistan, which strengthens its bilateral connections within the framework of multi-vector foreign policy understanding, also stands out with the relations it has established. At this point, the ties that Tashkent has developed with the Western World and China are important. China has increasing investments in Uzbekistan, especially in the automotive and green energy sectors. Energy cooperation and economic relations are also being developed. Tashkent, which has deepened its relations with China as well as strengthened ties with European countries, tries to make the country a center of attraction by attracting foreign direct investments through the partnerships it has established. At the same time, there is an increase in senior visits. Uzbekistan, which has mutual visits with various countries, will soon host the Czech Prime Minister.
Conference diplomacy carried out by the Tashkent administration also contributes to the rising profile of Uzbekistan. Because, with the conference diplomacy developed in parallel with the developments in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has become a prominent actor in the region. Strategic cities such as Tashkent and Samarkand have hosted international meetings on Afghanistan since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban came to power in the country, and Uzbekistan has become a center of diplomacy in the region. The country also hosts various meetings of international organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Organization of Independent States (CIS).
The international meetings that have come to the fore in recent days; it was made within the framework of Afghanistan, SCO and CIS. After the 4th Meeting of Afghanistan Neighbors and the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers held in Samarkand on 13-14 April 2023, the Central Asian Public Diplomacy Conference was held on 18 April 2023. At the Public Diplomacy meeting, it was stated that the issues of solving the problems of the countries of the region regarding stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan, supporting the initiatives to strengthen the interdependence of Central and South Asia, and contributing effectively to the formation of a new type of relationship in the Eurasian continent were discussed.
Events such as SCO Meetings and the EU-Central Asia International Conference raise the profile of the country significantly. Such initiatives strengthen Uzbekistan’s relations with other countries; it also expands its presence in these international mechanisms. Therefore, an Uzbekistan emerges, which actively participates in global political processes and assumes a leading role in the region. There are developments regarding the country’s accession to the World Trade Organization. This process means new developments and new partnerships in both domestic and foreign relations for Uzbekistan.
It is also seen that Uzbekistan has taken strategic steps within the scope of regional integration. Developing its connections with the countries of the region, as well as its commercial, political and diplomatic relations, Tashkent is making moves towards its goal of becoming a leader. Among the latest developments are the establishment of the export-import based company UZKAZTRADE with Kazakhstan, the meeting of the working groups of the Tajik-Uzbek border demarcation commission on April 10-16, 2023.
As a result, the multi-vector foreign policy pursued by Uzbekistan, which strengthens its position in various international organizations and stands out, attracts global attention. However, Tashkent also stands out with its diplomatic initiatives. The moves of Uzbekistan under the leadership of Mirziyoyev, who also took important steps in domestic politics, contribute to the global image of the country. It can be said that Uzbekistan is the rising power of Central Asia with the developments in its relations with the countries of the region and its active attitude within the Central Asian mechanisms.
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