Better Uzbek-Kyrgyz ties to make Central Asia attractive for China

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Post-Karimov Uzbekistan is eager to develop relations with Kyrgyzstan, Dr. Mukesh Kumar Mishra, New Delhi-based expert on Central Asia, told Trend.

“Although Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations have been in a sorry state during the last couple of decades because of the dispute over the border issue, the recent thaw in their bilateral ties started ever since Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in Uzbekistan in September 2016,” he said.

The expert pointed out that the big question that needs to be examined is what motivates Uzbekistan to pursue a favorable policy toward Kyrgyzstan.

“The answer lies into fact that Mirziyoyev wants Uzbekistan to have friendly relations with all its neighbors, and hence the border talks were resumed last September paving the way to maintain calmness along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border that has not been seen since the first years of independence,” he said.

Under the new leadership Uzbekistan appears to be adopting a pragmatic approach because there is nothing to gain in continuing the antagonism with Kyrgyzstan, according to the expert.

“The positive signs have been emerging now as the long-awaited China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project is finally making progress. This will be a shorter route for Uzbekistan to export goods to China than the current route through Kazakhstan, though it needs cooperation with Kyrgyzstan,” he added.

Uzbekistan is also buying electricity from Kyrgyzstan in addition to increasing trade ties, expert believes.

He also stressed that the trade between the two countries has significantly increased by 1.5 times in 2017 compared to 2016.

“The growing Uzbek-Kyrgyz ties are also influenced by the efforts of the regional countries to be more unified, particularly in the economic sphere. Other reason could be the desire of all the Central Asian states to integrate further so that they could be more attractive to China’s investments in the region as part of the One Belt - One Road initiative,” the expert said.

For Uzbekistan, being able to trade openly with partners on the other side of its border will prove to be beneficial in the long run, he concluded.



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