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Press Statements following Russian-Uzbekistani Talks

April 20, 2010

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, A few words on the visit of President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov.

First of all, I would like to say that our talks yesterday evening and today demonstrated our willingness to develop cooperation in all areas, our understanding of the priorities involved, and, of course, our overall assessment of our countries' cooperation as both strategic and mutually beneficial.

In general, I would like to say that deepening our particular strategic partnership really is in the long-term interests of both Russia and Uzbekistan. And we agreed to continue our policies in light of this. I would like to emphasize that the visit which took place today was a planned event, something we agreed on in advance with Mr Karimov.

This is not some kind of extraordinary meeting, but rather a planned event preparations for which took a long time, one that goes together with the signing a number of documents (the corresponding ceremony just took place). And of course, what is perhaps no less important in such an event, was full-value, productive, absolutely trusting and direct communication between presidents.

And I support what Mr Karimov said some time ago, namely that the quality and degree of candour as well as trust in relations between the presidents of Russia and Uzbekistan affect the very nature of our countries' partnership; these are actually very important factors.

What did we talk about? Naturally, we talked about the economy, because it is the basis of everything, the foundation of economic cooperation. We talked about how to supplement our cooperation with new programmes. In a restricted format I presented figures concerning our trade.

According to Russian data, our trade decreased slightly due to the [global financial] crisis, but during our conversation in expanded format, Mr Karimov said that Uzbek figures show that there was practically no such reduction. If that's the case, that is very good. In any case, as we look to the future we have every reason to try and increase trade between Russia and Uzbekistan by realising new projects and deals.

The diversification of industrial cooperation is important and we talked about that as well. A number of major Russian companies including LUKOIL, Gazprom, Aeroflot and MTS have been operating quite successfully in the Uzbekistani market for a long time. But of course we also have substantial potential in a variety of fields, and in new projects in energy, machine and aircraft manufacturing, processing and chemical industries, telecommunications and transport infrastructure.

We agreed to continue work on all these issues, give relevant instructions to our ministries and departments, and naturally to encourage our businesses to get involved in these fields. Cooperation in the fight against illegal migration, money laundering and terrorist financing remains very important. We intend to further strengthen coordination between the law enforcement and migration authorities of Russia and Uzbekistan. I mentioned that in accordance with the agreements reached during my state visit to Uzbekistan last year, we completed the ratification procedures for our intergovernmental agreement; as of last year that document is in force.

We also talked about strengthening relations in the cultural and educational spheres. We just signed a Programme for Cooperation in Cultural and Humanitarian Spheres for 2010–2012 and a plan for events related to this programme. I appreciate the position the government of Uzbekistan has adopted regarding Russian language (we talked about this), which is widely taught in schools and universities across the country.

This approach allows our friends in Uzbekistan to freely navigate the information space of both Russia and CIS countries, as well as of course to get an education, implement a number of programmes, and bring our peoples closer together. In turn, I think that we, I mean the Russian Federation, should make efforts in this area. In this regard, I would advocate cooperation in the information sphere, including through using our satellite capacities, so that our Uzbekistani partners can broadcast Uzbek channels in the territory of the Russian Federation as our other partners do.

Naturally, we are in the run-up to the 65th anniversary of Victory. This is a common Victory and a Great Victory, a time when our people fought together against fascism. Of course, today it is vital that we honour the memory of that time, the feats and achievements our fathers and grandfathers performed to make life possible for younger generations.

We discussed international and regional issues with Mr Karimov separately, in great detail and, in my opinion, very productively. We talked about current difficulties and the challenges facing our country. Of course, the main threats including terrorism, drug trafficking, and organised crime are well-known.

What is happening in Afghanistan cannot but draw our attention. We participate in various processes involving that country, we meet and discuss these issues in multilateral formats such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Nevertheless, problems remain, big ones, and we aim to engage in full-fledged cooperation on this issue together with other countries.

Of course we exchanged views on the dramatic events that took place recently in Kyrgyzstan, a separate topic for discussion. Now the main thing is to achieve political stability there: in fact, it is necessary to revive the state which has been overthrown and is not currently functioning. And we expect the interim Kyrgyzstani leadership to make all necessary and sufficient efforts in this regard. Both necessary and sufficient, because anarchy there could have the most damaging effects on the interests of the people of Kyrgyzstan and those of their neighbours.

In this regard, we would like to see a stable socio-economic situation in Kyrgyzstan and that the state, let me reiterate, take on all necessary functions. And the legitimisation of authorities via elections, not by exercising authority de facto, is very important. Only in this instance can we develop full-fledged economic cooperation.

Russia has provided humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan, but I will emphasise once again that full-fledged economic cooperation is only possible once the government institutions have been re-established. My colleague, the President of Uzbekistan, shares this position. This issue really is very important for us at present and we agreed to stay in touch with regards to any further developments.

We discussed cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan in the framework of multilateral structures such as the CIS, CSTO and SCO. This is particularly relevant given the fact that Russia is currently chairing the CIS while Uzbekistan is doing so for the SCO.

I think that we will continue to be in touch in this regard and, of course, we will develop the capacity of these organisations to ensure that cooperation within them can be used to resolve national problems. We are interested in having Uzbekistan play a pragmatic and active role in these matters, as I said earlier to the President of Uzbekistan.

I would like to conclude by once again thanking Mr Karimov and the Uzbekistani delegation for the good preparations made prior to the visit, for their constructive and interested approach during the visit, and for the comprehensive discussion of various issues. I am confident that this visit by the President of Uzbekistan will allow us to consolidate the main directions of our strategic partnership by identifying our future priorities.

President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,

First and foremost I would like to express again my sincere gratitude to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for the invitation to visit Russia, to visit Moscow, and for all the attention and the warm welcome given to our delegation.

We regard this official visit as the logical continuation of the trust-based talks and discussions that took place last year during the state visit of the President of Russia to Uzbekistan. We see this visit as an opportunity to once again assess the status and level of our bilateral relations, and as an opportunity to develop a list of priorities for extending bilateral cooperation in the future.

Of course, we acknowledge that there are a lot of reasons and a real need for an exchange of views on matters related to peace and stability in our turbulent Central Asian region, especially in the light of those events that, as you know, are currently taking place in Kyrgyzstan.

Mr Medvedev has just offered an objective assessment of our talks and the exchange of views on almost all issues discussed by our official delegations. I don't have anything in particular to add to the extensive summary and assessment that President Medvedev made. That said, there are a couple of issues I would like to touch on.

I would like to underline the main idea that I expressed today during our bilateral negotiations, that the establishment of mutual understanding – I would say trust-based relations between the two presidents – augurs well and should provide an excellent foundation for future relations between our two countries. It should help our relations become more substantial and, most importantly, help with the continued implementation of the agreements reached by our nations’ leaders.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I was very satisfied with the very informative and extremely, I repeat, extremely candid conversation that we had yesterday. I think that this conversation was absolutely necessary and that it will provide a good impetus for creating the trust that, let me say again, we need in order to ensure that relations between our countries continue to develop and grow stronger.

In Uzbekistan we highly value our historical and traditional relations of friendship and mutual respect. There is great potential for cooperation between our two nations, between Russia and Uzbekistan, and let me reiterate that no country plays a more important role than the Russian Federation on the international stage in the preservation of stability throughout the world and, what we are most concerned about, in Central Asia. I believe that further extending and strengthening cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan clearly serves not only the interests of both countries, but also plays an important role in ensuring sustainable peace, stability and security in Central Asia.

In view of the difficult and sometimes controversial events currently taking place in Central Asia, we once again emphasised the need to strengthen coordination within international and regional organisations, hold regular consultations, and ensure the continuous exchange of information on the rapidly changing situation in the region and world at large. We expressed our general views on how complex and unpredictable the situation in and around Afghanistan is as a potential source of danger, terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.

On that subject, I would characterise the situation in Afghanistan, where war has effectively been going on for over 30 years, as an absence of light at the end of the tunnel. Today no one can say conclusively what will happen in Afghanistan in the near future or in the medium term. This situation makes it even more urgent and necessary that we engage in close coordination and exchange information on all the possible consequences of this protracted crisis, on which the world's attention is now riveted.

We also expressed frank views and took clear positions concerning the status of integration processes in post-Soviet territory. We support the efforts undertaken by Russia during its presidency of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In this respect, the recent visit to Uzbekistan by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov was very fruitful. We heard about the major decisions and initiatives that Russia has taken so that the CIS can acquire a new image and take a series of important, stabilising measures that will increase its credibility about which there have been too many assumptions and too much speculation.

We emphasised the need to diversify bilateral trade, which in 2009 increased by nearly five percent, more precisely by 4.9 percent, and amounted to about $4.4 billion. We have confirmed our shared interest in further expanding our cultural and humanitarian cooperation. For this reason, today we adopted and signed the Programme for Cooperation [in Cultural and Humanitarian Spheres] for 2010–2012 and a plan of action to implement it, which will definitely help bring our two peoples and our countries closer together. I am convinced that this visit and the documents we signed during it on specific areas of cooperation, will lead to a higher level of comprehensive and mutually beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and Russia, which is in our countries' mutual interests.

I would like to take this opportunity to endorse Mr Medvedev's remarks, his observations concerning the fact that this visit by a delegation from Uzbekistan to Russia is not exceptional in any way, nor is it, so to speak, of a spontaneous nature. I think – and here I don't think I am mistaken – that there are journalists, there are experts and political analysts who will be saying tomorrow that the situation in Kyrgyzstan and in the whole region was crucial in determining the decision of the President of Uzbekistan to visit Russia, in search of the kind of support that Uzbekistan and its President currently need. I think that such things might be said. What can I say in response? Everyone is free to think as he or she likes, and express things as they see fit. Nevertheless, I would like to see those forecasters or analysts first of all take into account the following facts: arrangements concerning the visit of this delegation from Uzbekistan to Russia were made during the successful visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Uzbekistan in December last year. And this year we had the very fruitful visit of the Russian government delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov. It was then, back in January, that we outlined the subjects to be discussed and the documents that we signed today.

There is another thing that I would like to say. The point is that we need not so much to talk about short-term problems that have arisen, but above all to ensure that decisions are made concerning sustainable peace and stability in Kyrgyzstan.

I read Russian papers, Komsomolka [Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda] particularly. I respect this newspaper and read it carefully because it is so sort of accessible, open, I think that's how I'd put it. And in this newspaper you occasionally read something that you will not see in more serious publications; in this newspaper they are very good at presenting stories. Nevertheless, when I read the so-called conclusions in some of these reports, I don't want to give the names of specific reporters … Articles by Vorsobin and Steshin, who I think are currently working in Kyrgyzstan, their articles make interesting reading, but some of the opinions voiced by these good reporters are astounding, because you simply cannot judge events in Kyrgyzstan and blithely apply your conclusions to the entire region.

Many people of different nationalities and ethnic origins currently live in the region. But, most importantly, each republic today is a completely independent state, which has its own distinctive features. Anyway, to speak so casually about a whole region, to speculate on whether or not these things can happen again tomorrow somewhere in neighbouring countries, and to peremptorily draw conclusions about this – I think that this is not exactly the right approach. More precisely, I believe that this results from a lack of information.

The most important thing to remember is that we cannot judge the whole region by one country. That is too simplistic an approach – I hope you'll excuse me for saying it's a very primitive approach. And it would be very useful in this regard if the Russian press and television would give a reasoned, comprehensive analysis of what is happening today, not only in Kyrgyzstan but also in the whole region. Lack of information, the absence of information often leads to attempts to fill in the shadowy areas yourself, and this can create confusion, which generally speaking is not conducive to mutual understanding between our countries and peoples.

So our points of view are the same, the one articulated here by the President of Russia and my assessment. We agree that what is happening today in Kyrgyzstan is in absolutely no one's interests, especially those of countries that border on Kyrgyzstan, and that there is a very serious risk that these processes will become permanent in nature.

In 2005 there was a precedent of a contagious nature that created the illusion that it is very easy to subvert the leadership of any legitimately elected government. This precedent is itself being played out again in Kyrgyzstan exactly five years later. In effect, this repeated situation suggests that such an approach, such an illusion may in general terms have serious consequences. Moreover, according to the estimates of some, I mean those in Komsomolka, this goes even further: they are saying that the leaders of neighbouring states are looking on with horror, while the population is watching with delight the liberation of the Kyrgyzstani people. That is the sort of mistaken conclusion people can draw.

So the leaders look on with horror while the population responds with enthusiasm. I would say that this is a catchy approach to journalism, I have nothing in particular against such catchy, brash pronouncements, but believe me: in Uzbekistan, no one is watching with any enthusiasm the actions of the freedom-loving people of Kyrgyzstan. If anyone does not believe this, I invite you all to come to the border with Kyrgyzstan – to the Fergana Valley – and see this with your own eyes. And then we can reconvene again and evaluate once again our all too revolutionary judgments about what is happening today in the region.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Karimov.

I think that Komsomolskaya Pravda should be obliged to the President of Uzbekistan for such an excellent advertisement for its publications and for their detailed analysis.

April 20, 2010