“Belgian people are friendly, open, and multicultural” says Dilyor Khakimov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan

After only one year in office, the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the EU, Mr. Dilyor Khakimov, has coordinated the visits of several Uzbek delegations in Brussels, including those of Governors from the Djizzakh and Bukhara regions. Before coming to Brussels, Mr. Khakimov spent time in Washington D.C. and New York and has extensive experience in diplomatic affairs. This month he speaks to Brussels Express about his experience in Belgium, the beauty of the Silk Road Uzbek landscape, and much more.

Dilyor Khakimov

Could you tell us about your impressions on Belgian people, the highlights of your first year in office?

It’s slightly over one year since I came to Belgium. As an Ambassador, it has been one of the best experiences in my professional career in terms of representing my country in such a vivid, friendly and dynamic environment. And I don’t mean only the official institutions but also the Belgian people. They are very warm, friendly, open, multicultural, and I could go on about the qualities I have observed so far. It has been very enjoyable to live and work in Brussels.

Over the past year we have seen a number of important events, starting last year with the visit of our Foreign Affairs Minister for the Cooperation Council Meeting, a meeting with the High Representatives of the European Union. A meeting was also held with the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Didier Reynders.

That also includes a number of visits by other delegations. On a reciprocity basis we have seen travel to Uzbekistan over the last year by High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Federica Mogherini, in November of last year to Samarkand, and in March of 2018 to Tashkent. Her first visit was for the International Conference on the Future Development of Central Asia; the second one was on Afghanistan.

Beyond we also helped to ministerial meetings between the European Union and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Central Asia during those visits.

Recently we organized the visits of different Uzbek delegations to Belgium this summer. That includes bilateral political consultations between Belgium and Uzbekistan in early June. And the delegation was led by the then deputy of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Azduvakhitov.

We had the visits of other dignitaries including, in July, the Minister of Foreign Trade, Jamshid Khodjaev, who came here with a big delegation of Uzbek officials to hold operation committee meetings with European Union officials.

Also the Chairman of State Customs Committee, Mr. Azimov. He came to participate in one of the World Trade Customs Organization meetings. The goal of the meeting was to choose a new General Secretary of the World Trade Customs Organization.

And there was also the delegation visit of the Chairperson of the Uzbekistan Silk Producers.

Recently two Uzbek Governors came to Brussels. Could you elaborate a little on those visits?

We received the Governors of the Djizzakh region, and the Governor of Bukhara region. These visits were very rich in terms of bilateral contacts between Uzbekistan and Belgium, and Uzbekistan and the European Union.

For the last two years, Uzbekistan could be characterized as a country of sweeping reforms. Our President, his Excellency Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, initiated large-scale and nation-wide reforms programs. The core of those reforms is to give priority to the interests of Uzbek people, and economy and development.

Our government is promoting open, transparent and competitive economic reforms in terms of seeking foreign investment, technology, transfer of knowledge from our leading partners, namely the European Union.

One of the implementations of this open policy is to foster our foreign relations, meaning our Governors traveling abroad to develop business opportunities in their own regions, promote investment opportunities.

How does Uzbekistan promote tourism abroad?

You know that Uzbekistan is a land of ancient culture and ancient traditions. The Silk Road is well known in the tourist industry, and in Uzbekistan, one can visit historical Silk Road sites such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, which are some of the best known. Some less known are located in the Ferghana Valley, a region where all these silk trading routes used to run through.

Tourism is part of our economic development agenda in Uzbekistan. We want to bring our historical heritage to the world and make it a viable economic industry. There would be job generation, of course, but it also opens the country to interaction with the world at large.

From 15th of July, Uzbekistan introduced a system of registering and issuing electronic entry visas via E-VISA.UZ, and this measure includes Belgium.

Uzbekistan introduced a visa-free entry, temporary stay and departure from Uzbekistan through checkpoints of citizens of 101 states that transit through Uzbekistan at international airports for a period of not more than five days. In this case, passengers must have an air ticket to a third country. The carrier must provide the Border Guard units of the State Security Service of Uzbekistan with timely information on passengers.