President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov visited Brussels on January 24, 2011, at the invitation of European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

During his visit to the Belgian capital, President Karimov met with President Jose Manuel Barroso; the European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger; and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

During the negotiations, the sides exchanged practical and candid views on the current state and prospects of Uzbekistan-EU and Uzbekistan-NATO relations.

President Islam Karimov’s meeting with European Commission’s President Jose Manuel Barroso both in restricted and extended format went far beyond the time framework set by protocol and was held in a frank and constructive atmosphere. Bilateral cooperation issues as well as those of regional and international nature have been discussed during the talks.

The Commission President stressed that the Uzbek leader’s visit was well-timed, and that today there have been all the necessary prerequisites for bolstering the bilateral cooperation in political, economic and other spheres.

Jose Manuel Barroso expressed gratitude to Islam Karimov for the assistance in executing the EU strategy for Central Asia and expressed hope that the visit would be a turning point in the development of bilateral relations between the Union and Uzbekistan.

President Barroso drew attention to what it has been one of the highest economic growth rates in the world demonstrated by Uzbekistan, and pointed out European Union’s willingness to make itself available in the process of economic reforms and structural transition in Uzbekistan through the supply of high technology for the implementation of priority projects, infrastructure development, training of specialists, and expansion of scientific and technological ties. One of the signed documents is a memorandum set to boost projects in the sphere of financial and technological cooperation.

The head of the European Commission noted enormous prospects unfolding in bilateral interaction in the wake of the Memorandum on Cooperation in Energy inked during the visit. The prospects referred to include the modernization of fuel and energy complex, introduction of energy saving technologies as well as the development of interregional transport and communications and transit corridors.

Uzbekistan welcomes the pragmatic approach taken by the European Union regarding the use of water resources of transnational rivers in Central Asia. The EU has made it clear that the regional states should coordinate their efforts to work out a sustainable and transparent mechanism for cooperation on water and energy issues with an eye to preserving the existent environmental balance and built on the principles of fair, sustainable and reasonable use of transnational water resources.

Jose Manuel Barroso said that with great consideration and interest has the EU leadership welcomed the Concept of Intensifying the Democratic Reforms and Forming Civil Society presented by President Islam Karimov at the joint session of higher and lower houses of Uzbekistan’s Oliy Majlis on November 12, 2010. He expressed the EU’s willingness to provide essential assistance in the Concept’s implementation, including in particular the drafting of normative and regulatory projects aimed at fostering the democratic processes, encouraging the development of independent media, further liberalization of judicial system. The sides noted the shared interest in maintaining the dialogue on issues related to human rights and the rule of law.

The Commission President expressed his profound reverence for the evenhanded and constructive approach by President Islam Karimov during the tragic events in southern Kyrgyzstan that broke out last June. President Barroso noted that Uzbekistan’s discerning strategy in this critical situation has helped prevent the conflict from escalation and reaffirm Uzbekistan’s key role in maintaining and consolidating the stability and security in Central Asia.

During the talks, the sides expressed shared interest in achieving a durable stability in Kyrgyzstan. The EU leadership has reiterated its unwavering position on the need for a comprehensive, impartial and independent international inquiry into the tragic events of last June, critical to secure an enduring stability in that country.

Presidents Karimov and Barroso have used the negotiations to evaluate the prospects of Afghanistan and discussed issues concerning intra-Afghan settlement by the engagement of interested sides in a dialogue.  
The Commission President expressed gratitude to President of Uzbekistan for the goal-bound projects aimed at restoring Afghanistan’s economy and infrastructure.

Agreement on Establishing European Union Delegation to Uzbekistan signed during the visit has received an encouraging approval from the two sides who expressed confidence that the document will provide with a solid ground for implementing agreements and strengthening mutual confidence.

President Islam Karimov’s meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has reaffirmed the common interest of the parties to intensify the bilateral constructive partnership. At the same time, priority on this front has been placed on cooperation within Individual Partnership Program and the Process of Planning and Analysis of Decisions, countering threats to security from the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, bolstering interaction in combating terrorism and drugs trafficking.

The two sides agreed that in so extremely intricate a situation prevailing in Afghanistan, it is imperative to seek alternative ways to attain peace and stability in that country. In accordance with Uzbekistan’s viewpoint, creation of a “6+3” contact group composed of representatives of Afghanistan's neighboring nations as well as the United States, NATO and Russia - under a UN auspices, - could play an important role in this regard.

During Uzbekistan-NATO talks, the position of the Uzbek side on a range of cooperation issues has been given an essential and sufficiently comprehensive explanation.  
NATO’s Secretary General gave his high appreciation of Uzbekistan’s significant contribution to the socio-economic development of Afghanistan and called for the continuation of coordinated efforts in stabilizing that country.

The visit by President Islam Karimov to Brussels has demonstrated the common interest of the European Union, NATO, and Uzbekistan to expand cooperation in various spheres built on principles of equality and mutual benefit. As it was repeatedly put throughout the visit, the parties possess a considerable potential, the realization of which would prove mutually advantageous.

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