Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan Rapprochement

Similar Posts

This post is also available in: Türkçe Русский

In today’s conjuncture, where polarization has increased in the world and alliances have become more prominent, it is seen that regionalization has gained great importance. Strong regional alliances are needed especially because of eliminating threats such as terrorism and migration, increasing commercial relations thanks to regional integration, and not wanting to be involved in the competition between global powers. Cooperation with neighboring countries within the framework of common interests and mutual respect allows states to act more comfortably in global politics and to pursue a more effective multi-faceted foreign policy.

Today, one of the most important geographies where regionalization is experienced is Central Asia. The five Central Asian countries, which declared their independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, took various steps in terms of regional integration and cooperation in a thirty-year period. These steps also produced effective results in the medium term. The Central Asian Heads of State Consultation Meeting is one of the most important examples of this. Besides, with organizations such as the Organization of Turkish States, various states in Central Asia are trying to reach common interests with their peaceful policies without being involved in international competition.

Regionalization, which is usually realized between neighboring countries, is built on mutual trust. In particular, the application of principles such as mutual respect, paying attention to the sensitivities of countries and not interfering in their internal affairs accelerates the integration processes. Moreover, the existence of various regional powers that will perpetuate these processes is also important.

As it can be understood, regional powers constitute the main driving force for the construction of strong cooperation and prevent the deepening of crises by acting as a mediator in the problems that may arise. The mediator role adopted by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan during the conflicts between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in April 2021 exemplifies this situation. On the other hand, ensuring a certain harmony and cooperation between regional powers facilitates integration processes and prevents the intervention of non-regional actors. This makes it possible to eliminate threats.

Looking at the processes in question from the perspective in question, the steps taken to develop cooperation between Tashkent and Nur-Sultan in Central Asia and the agreements made after the visit of the President of Uzbekistan, Şevket Mirziyoyev to Kazakhstan on 6 December 2021, can be read as important developments both in terms of bilateral relations and regionalization

It should be noted that in various studies on Central Asia, it was claimed that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan would be regional rivals. However, since Mirziyoyev was elected President of Uzbekistan, establishing close relations with Central Asian countries has become the main priority of Tashkent. Similarly, Kazakhstan, which has implemented a policy of peacefully solving its problems with its neighbors since the time it declared its independence, does not compete with regional competition; aims at cooperation.

It is seen that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have adopted regional and international common policies. It is seen that the two countries also displayed a common will to ensure multidimensional integration at the 8th Summit on November 12, 2021, where the Turkic Council was transformed into the Organization of Turkic States. After the adoption of the Turkish World 2040 Vision Strategic Document[1], Mirziyoyev’s visit to Nur-Sultan clearly reveals that the said document contributed to bilateral relations. This is because the strong established relations also open the door to the formation of a strong Turkish World.

In addition, it can be predicted that the ties between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will reflect positively on Central Asia. As a matter of fact, the 3rd Consultation Meeting of the Heads of Central Asian States held in Turkmenistan on 6 August 2021; It is very important in terms of decisions taken on the realization of cooperation in political, commercial, economic, cultural and humanitarian fields. In particular, increasing mutual trade, developing cooperation in the energy sector and creating new transportation corridors stand out as the most critical dynamics of regionalization.[2]

Although there is a regionalization in Central Asia, this situation is not realized to create an isolated area. This is because Central Asian states both follow a multi-faceted foreign policy and are involved in various regional and global cooperations. Initiatives such as the Belt-Road Project, the Central Line and the Trans-Afghan Transport Corridor connect Central Asia to the world. In this context, the regionalization in Central Asia is open to the world; however, it can be said that it is closed to various security threats.

During Mirziyoyev’s visit, the strategic partnership between the actors was raised to the level of alliance. However, considering the recent joint military exercises between the two countries, it can be argued that it is aimed to ensure regional security and make cooperation more permanent. This is because the most important issue that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan worry about in regional issues is security. This is why cooperation between the two countries will be a barrier against the rise of radicalism and terrorism. The emphasis of Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during his meeting with his Uzbek counterpart Mirziyoyev that the alliance ties between the two countries will ensure the stability and security of Central Asia also reveals this reality.[3]

From the perspective of bilateral relations, the trade volume exceeding 3 billion dollars is 5; The decisio-n to increase it to 10 billion dollars later on is a harbinger of the acceleration of the economicbased integration process. In this context, it can be said that Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which want to maintain regional integration, have pioneered the economic integration of the region with the relations they have developed. In addition, the parties discussed political, commercial, economic, investment, transportation, energy, industry, agriculture, cultural and humanitarian cooperation during the negotiations.[4] The aforementioned topics indicate that they will continue the relations in a multidimensional way.

Undoubtedly, preferring competition instead of regional cooperation will have significant damages and spending economic resources on defense will hinder the development of countries. However, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, on the contrary, aim to develop through cooperation for peaceful purposes. At this point, it is seen that both countries need each other today, where various corridors gain importance. Kazakhstan, which wants to go south, and Uzbekistan, which wants to open up to the west through the Caspian Sea, want to turn their geographically complementary geopolitical positions into an advantage. High-speed railway projects on the Turkestan-Chimkent-Tashkent route, as well as the Uckuduk-Kızıllorda highway and railway, were discussed. Although expectations for these projects are high, this situation means strengthening the connection on the north-south route. More importantly, while trade between countries intensifies; labor and capital mobility will also increase. In addition, transportation costs are expected to decrease.[5]

As a result, for a stable Central Asia and a strong Turkish World, the relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan need to be deepened. In this way, the countries of the region will be protected from geopolitical ruptures, global competition and various threats. Thus, the sovereignty and independence of the countries of the region will be strengthened. When the relations to be developed on the Nur-Sultan-Tashkent line are evaluated within the framework of the decisions taken and the agreements made, it can be stated that Central Asia will become a center for economic corridors.

[1] “Türk Dünyası 2040 Vizyonu”, Türkkon,, (Date of Accession: 09.12.2021).

[2] International Turkic Academy, “Orta Asya Devlet Başkanları İstişare Toplantısı Türkmenistan’da Gerçekleşti”, Turkic Weekly,, (Date of Accession: 09.12.2021), s. 2.

[3] Assel Satubaldina, “President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev Visits Kazakhstan to Sign Declaration of Allied Relations”, The Astana Times,, (Date of Accession: 09.12.2021).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Experts Assess the Promising Projects of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the Transport and Communications Sector”, Uz Daily,, (Date of Accession: 09.12.2021).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.