New Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Belgium Open Letter

Mr. Dilyor Khakimov is the new Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the Kingdom of Belgium. Brussels Express invited him to share his views about 26 years of independence, one year of new government lead by Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the future priorities of this Central-Asian country. 

For a historically short period of time – 26 years, lofty goals as the constructing rule of law based democratic state, ensuring the priority of human rights and freedoms, peace and harmony in the country have been achieved in Uzbekistan. It is on this solid foundation a new society, a new state, a new economy has been built.

Taking this opportunity, allow me to pay a due respect to the bright memory of the great statesman and outstanding politician – the First President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. The political and economic stability, high growth rates and modernization of the economy which had been achieved during the years of independence are inalienably linked with his name.

Islam Karimov
Islam Karimov, former President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

As you know, on 4 December 2016 Uzbekistan held early presidential elections, which showed significantly increased social and political activity of our society and the people, credibility and maturity of political parties, civic institutions.

On 9 December 2016 in accordance with Articles 90 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Articles 14, 35 and 36 of the law of Uzbekistan «On elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan», the Central Electoral Commission has adopted a resolution on regarding Shavkat Mirziyoyev as elected to the post of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

I am sure you are aware of the political transformations carried out during the last year under the leadership of the new President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in particular strengthening the role of the legislature, liberalization of judicial and legal sphere, fight against corruption, protection of entrepreneurs and improving the business climate and many others.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Upon his initiative, the Action strategy on 5 priority directions on Uzbekistan’s development for 2017-2021 had been adopted on February 2017. The document is a basis constructing in the country a democratic, rule of law based country with a strong economy and vibrant civil society. The Action strategy gave a powerful impetus to reforms in all spheres of society.

On 7 December 2017 the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev delivered a speech at the solemn event dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Comprehensively and deeply thought out Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, adopted exactly 25 years ago on the principles of democracy, through nationwide discussion, has formed and consolidated the legal guarantees of the new independent state and society.

As noted in the report of the Head of our state, the Basic Law is a high example of political and legal thinking of our people. It serves as a legal guarantee so that we lived freely, peacefully, tranquilly and safely, not being inferior to anyone in no way.

Great transformations taking place in our country, reforms in various spheres have radically changed the way of life of our people. In the Year of dialogue with people and human interests, real reforms were carried out on the basis of constitutional principles and norms. The noble idea of “Human interests – above all” was fully realized this year, an absolutely new effective system of solving vital problems of the population – Virtual Reception of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and People’s Reception Offices at places was created.

The ending year confirmed how strong the foundation of our happy life is the Constitution. Its norms have become even more developed in the daily lives of our citizens. Indeed, in our Basic Law, a person, his/her rights, freedoms and interests are determined by the highest value. Most importantly, people have already begun to feel the results of reforms today.

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the President of our country Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a Decree on pardoning 2 700 convicts.

For the first time in the history of our country, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan adopted the Decree on pardoning 2 700 convicts, including on releasing 956 persons from the penal colony, who committed crimes due to various circumstances, who are sincerely repented of their actions and firmly embarked on the path of correction, and who are positively characterized at the place of residence and in institutions on the execution of punishment.

Also I would like to note that the enhancement of investment climate and creation of favorable conditions for foreign investors is one of the priority areas for development stipulated by President Sh.Mirziyoyev in the Action Strategy.

According to paragraph 2 of the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan on 2 September 2017 «On Priority Measures for the Liberalization of Monetary Policy», since 5 September 2017 legal entities of the Republic of Uzbekistan may, without restriction, purchase foreign currency in commercial banks for payment on current international transactions (import of goods, works and services, repatriation of profits, repayment of loans, payment of travel expenses and other transfers).

Indicators of the rapid growth of Uzbekistan’s economy are widely recognized on the international arena. In particular, according to the rating of prominent World Economic Forum, Uzbekistan is among 15 countries with the fastest growing economy in the world. The World Bank in its 2017 Global Economic Prospects expects that Uzbekistan will keep economic growth at 7.4% in 2017-2019.

In World Bank rating «Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All» Uzbekistan has been placed 87th among 190 countries. World Bank experts have raised the position of republic in 5 of the 10 indicators of the report.

Another important issue which I would like to draw your attention is implementing by Uzbekistan new regional policy by strengthening its relations with neighboring countries. The International Conference «Central Asia, Shared past and Common future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual prosperity» in Samarkand on the 10 and 11 November 2017 a breakthrough in this respect and aroused great interest high ranking guests, represented states and international organizations.

This event was a great success for Uzbek diplomacy. The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev had keynote speech at the conference and put forward several important initiatives on strengthening of regional security and mutually beneficial cooperation among the Central Asian countries.

Among the participants were all foreign ministers of the five Central Asian states, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Mrs. Federica Mogherini, Foreign ministers from Iran and Afghanistan, Ministers from Russia, India, Turkey, representatives from Pakistan, South Korea, Japan, Unites States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany and from International organizations like UNDP, SCO, CIS, EU, NATO and OSCE.

The cooperation with the EU and its member states is one of the key priorities of the foreign policy of Uzbekistan, which is enshrined in the Foreign Policy Concept of our country.

This year we have very comprehensive Uzbekistan-EU agenda. In July 2017 we held fruitful Cooperation Council meeting and bilateral talks of Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov with EU High Representative for foreign policy and security Mrs.Federica Mogherini.

We re-established our cooperation with EBRD and signed Framework Agreement with European Investment Bank.

There are wide range possibilities for realizing concrete projects with these financial institutions, as well as within free economic zones, established throughout our country.

Visit of EU High Representative Mrs.Mogherini and European commissioner for international cooperation and development Neven Mimica to Uzbekistan and their participation in EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting in Samarkand in November 2017 brought additional stimulus to enhance cooperation between Uzbekistan and EU as well as to Central Asia-EU relations.

The further development of relations with the EU and its member states in the economic, social, trade, investment and technological domains are of particular interest to Uzbekistan. We are ready to intensify mutually beneficial cooperation with European countries in improving of life conditions of the Uzbek people and diversification of trade to further expand the investment presence of foreign capital in the republic.

Last but not least, as you know, Uzbekistan has huge touristic potential and such world well known historical cities as Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Shakhrisabz and etc.

Samarkand, one of the jewels from Uzbekistan

In our country, the prospects for the development of tourism are constantly expanding, and large-scale projects are being implemented in various areas. In particular, such new tourism destinations as mountaineering, horses, camels and bicycles traveling, off-road tours, fishing, rafting, heli-skiing, geotourism, educational tourism, medical tourism and others are becoming popular in recent years.

The decree of the President of our country Shavkat Mirziyoyev «On measures of ensuring accelerated development of the tourism industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan» of December 2, 2016, serves as an important factor in ensuring further development of the tourism sector, granting tourism the status of strategic sector of economy, effectively using tourism potential in the regions.

The State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Tourism Development was organized in order to identify and coordinate the implementation of targets and priority areas outlined in the decree.

Over the past short period, 16 normative legal acts aimed at comprehensive development of tourism potential of Uzbekistan have been adopted. On the basis of these documents, the entities of the tourism industry are granted significant tax and customs privileges and preferences.

Over the past period, in accordance with the initiative of the Head of our state, programs aimed at improving the tourism infrastructure in Khorezm, Bukhara, Samarkand, Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya, Jizzakh and Fergana regions, the organization of new tourist routes and wide promotion of tourism potential of the regions have been adopted. In particular, activities are being held on creation of round-the-clock tourist zones «Ancient Bukhara» and «Samarkand-City» in Bukhara and Samarkand with an area of 10 hectares each, which will be engaged in serving tourists.

Complex measures have been developed and are being implemented on organizing guest houses in Bostanlyk, Parkent and Akhangaran – Angren tourism clusters in Tashkent region.

The resolution of the President of our country «On priority measures of development of the sphere of tourism for 2018-2019» dated on 16 August 2017 has raised the level of activities in this direction to a new level.

In accordance with this resolution, a special program aimed at addressing important issues facing the sphere for 2018-2019 has been approved, Coordination council for tourism development has been established in order to ensure its full implementation and interdepartmental coordination in the sphere.

Based on this program, organization of similar individual tourism zones in the cities of Tashkent, Urgench and Fergana region is planned.

It is also envisaged to adopt separate programs in such areas of tourism as medical, recreational, agro- and ecotourism, within the framework of the program.

One of the most important factors in the development of modern tourism is the unique nature of our country. Uzbekistan is the leading state in Central Asia, where ecotourism is most developed. Our country attracts tourists with its rich flora and fauna, unique landscapes, national traditions and diverse cuisine. Significant work is carried out within the framework of solving issues of tourism development in Uzbekistan in Ugam-Chatkal state natural national park, Chatkal state biosphere reserve in its constituent, the Aidar-Arnasai lakes system and Chimgan-Charvak resort and recreation zone.

By the decree of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev on 4 December 2017, changes were made in the procedure for issuing tourist visas. 

A single tourist visa is now valid for individual foreign citizens, issued for a period of 30 days. Earlier, foreign citizens, receiving a tourist visa for a short period of time (7 or 15 days), could face the problem of extending the validity of visas when flights are delayed or for other reasons.

The cost of registration of entry tourist visas for individual foreign tourists is reduced by one third – from 60 to 40 US dollars. The State Committee for Tourism Development (Goskomtourism) notes that the high cost of a tourist visa served as a certain deterrent for the decision to travel to Uzbekistan.

In addition, the lower threshold for registration of a group tourist visa is decreased twice – from 10 to 5 people. The former requirement caused difficulties, since in most cases groups are formed from close friends or relatives, usually in the form of 5 people. The cost of group visas for 15 days is $ 15, for 30 days – $ 25 per tourist.

By the initiative of the Head of our state, business aviation will be established in Uzbekistan. This is a new direction for Central Asia, known in the world as business aviation, or commercial aviation. The business aviation that is being established in our country will be specialized in individual and corporate transportation, as well as providing related services.

All this measures directed to improving the quality of provided touristic services and increasing the flow of tourists to our country.

Therefore, taking this opportunity, I would like to invite all of you our wonderful country.