Leav­ing with Feel­ing of Ac­com­plished Mission

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - WORLD - In­ter­view with Pavlov Ivan Am­bas­sador of Slo­vakia to Uzbek­istan.

- Uzbek­istan To­day was the first pub­lish­ing house whom you gave an in­ter­view as an Am­bas­sador upon ar­rival to Tashkent. You said that you would con­cen­trate your ef­forts on putting into prac­tice cour­tesy calls, as well as work­ing vis­its to the re­gions to find new points of con­tact, per­spec­tive di­rec­tions, able to in­ten­sify Uzbek-Slo­vak co­op­er­a­tion. Do you think you have man­aged to solve this task? If yes, what new fields of co­op­er­a­tion have you dis­cov­ered?

- I’d like to be­gin with the fact that I first vis­ited Uzbek­istan be­ing a univer­sity stu­dent in 1981. This was a touris­tic trip, which opened quite a new world for me, a man from Cen­tral Europe. For the first time I was ac­quainted with the part of the Moslem world, and I cer­tainly tried to find as much as pos­si­ble about the coun­try and its peo­ple. But I couldn’t even imag­ine that af­ter 30 years I would re­turn to this coun­try, al­ready in­de­pen­dent Uzbek­istan, in quite an­other ca­pac­ity – as Head of the diplo­matic mission of the in­de­pen­dent Slo­vak Re­pub­lic.

I have been work­ing in Uzbek­istan for 4,5 years. My first in­ter­view, im­me­di­ately on ar­rival, I gave to Uzbek­istan To­day, and now I’m say­ing good­bye to Uzbek peo­ple also via your pub­lish­ing house.

Each Am­bas­sador, while start­ing his du­ties be­gins to work over ac­ti­va­tion of re­la­tions in all di­rec­tions. I wasn’t also an ex­clu­sion and worked within this course. Now I сan state with sat­is­fac­tion that we man­aged to ar­range and re­new for­eign-poliсy di­a­logue. This is very im­por­tant as meet­ings of for­eign min­is­ters, a num­ber of po­lit­i­cal con­sul­ta­tions and the visit of the Sec­re­tary of State of the Slo­vak Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs to Uzbek­istan took place. It is in this pe­riod that I was able to demon­strate trade and eco­nomic, tourist and cul­tural po­ten­tial of my coun­try.

I’m glad that con­struc­tive di­a­logue and mu­tual sup­port of can­di­dates within the frame­works of in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, par­tic­u­larly in the UN, is go­ing on. Slo­vakia welcomes and sup­ports fur­ther con­sol­i­da­tion of the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween Uzbek­istan and Euro­pean Union. I’m proud that rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Slo­vakia are ac­tively con­tribut­ing to the process.

- Dear Mr Am­bas­sador, a year ago dur­ing the visit of Lukash Parizek, Sec­re­tary of State for For­eign and Euro­pean Af­fairs of the Slo­vak Re­pub­lic, the Uzbek side was de­liv­ered two projects of Slo­vak com­pa­nies in the sphere of pro­duc­ing eco­log­i­cal en­ergy in the Ferghana vi­layet, as well as on con­struct­ing a fac­tory for pro­duc­tion of bio-fer­til­iz­ers. What stage is the work on these projects in?

- As to these projects, I can say that the talks are un­der way on the first of them, the is­sue of re­al­iza­tion is at the stage of ex­pert dis­cus­sions. The key point is to find a cor­re­spond­ing in­vestor. Even if the project can­not be re­al­ized in Ferghana, there is an al­ter­na­tive in Karakalpak­stan al­ready be­ing ex­am­ined now. We’ll try to put this is­sue on the agenda of the in­ter­de­part­men­tal com­mit­tee next year.

Re­gard­ing for­eign trade, where there is a good prospect, for in­stance in sup­ply of en­ergy and gas me­ters within the frame­works of the Pro­gram on mod­ern­iza­tion of en­ergy and gas fields of Uzbek­istan, Slo­vakia has high­tech­nol­ogy plants on their pro­duc­tion. The talks are al­ready un­der way with the Uzbek side on the im­port of this equip­ment. We hope to com­plete them suc­cess­fully.

Agri­cul­ture and food in­dus­try are ar­eas where trade ex­change has been reg­u­lated and we are look­ing for new points of con­tact. At present Slo­vakia sup­plies meat pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy and plans to ex­port con­ser­va­tion tech­nol­ogy that can be­come a new vec­tor for a long-term per­spec­tive.

Au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try is an­other seg­ment, where I see a big un­tapped po­ten­tial. Last year my coun­try pro­duced over a mil­lion au­to­mo­biles. Two years ago, a Euro­pean com­pany in­vested into the field 2 bln eu­ros and is build­ing now a car fac­tory on man­u­fac­ture of Jaguar Land Cruiser au­to­mo­biles. It is im­por­tant to note that forty per­cent of all equip­ment and auto pieces in au­to­mo­bile in­dus­try is pro­duced di­rectly by Slo­vak com­pa­nies. We can use this ad­van­tage to dis­cuss prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tions be­tween au­toin­dus­tries of Slo­vakia and Uzbek­istan.

- Trade, in­vest­ments, econ­omy, are, as a rule, key ar­eas for co­op­er­a­tion. What do you think of that?

- Con­cern­ing is­sues of in­vest­ment, trade and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion, I would like to men­tion that this is the most im­por­tant and si­mul­ta­ne­ously very com­plex seg­ment, depend­ing on great num­ber of fac­tors. In this con­text I think it’s im­por­tant to ac­cel­er­ate the process of pre­par­ing a new bi­lat­eral in­tergovern­men­tal agree­ment on mu­tual sup­port and pro­tec­tion of in­vest­ments. The Slo­vak draft agree­ment was passed to the Uzbek side at the be­gin­ning of 2017.

I have been pay­ing max­i­mum at­ten­tion to this di­rec­tion since the first till the last days of my work in Tashkent. Specif­i­cally, I had meet­ings with the lead­ers of cor­re­spon­dent min­istries and de­part­ments, in­clud­ing the Min­istry of For­eign Trade, State Com­mit­tee for In­vest­ments, Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, State Com­mit­tee for Roads, State Com­mit­tee for Tourism De­vel­op­ment, etc. Dur­ing the first two and a half years we could ob­serve some shifts and re­sults in the form of widen­ing trade ex­change till $30 mln an­nu­ally. How­ever, af­ter 2015 a neg­a­tive ten­dency has been out­lined. I think, many in­ner and ex­ter­nal fac­tors have in­flu­enced that, like eco­nomic cri­sis, price cut­ting for raw ma­te­rial, in par­tic­u­lar, for oil and cot­ton, ir­reg­u­lar con­tacts of the pri­vate busi­ness sec­tor. To­day our task is there­fore to stop this neg­a­tive ten­dency and turn it into the right chan­nel. Cer­tainly, we need mu­tual ef­forts of both pri­vate sec­tor and at the of­fi­cial gov­ern­men­tal course. From my part I tried to present Slo­vak po­ten­tials and pos­si­bil­i­ties of Uzbek econ­omy most fully through the Em­bassy and in­stru­ments of in­flu­ence avail­able for me. Nat­u­rally, it was goods and equip­ment, able to pro­voke mu­tual in­ter­est.

A pos­i­tive ex­am­ple of an ac­tive ap­proach to sup­port for­eign trade ex­change be­tween the coun­tries is an ex­pert sem­i­nar, held in Tashkent at the be­gin­ning of this year. It was or­ga­nized by the Ger­man bank and in­surance com­pa­nies for rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Uzbek banks and for­eign trade or­ga­ni­za­tions. Its par­tic­i­pants were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Slo­vak «Ex­im­bank» and Czech Re­pub­lic. Use­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions took place within the frame­works of this event with Vice-Premier Jamshid Kuchkarov, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Min­istry of For­eign Trade of Uzbek­istan and State Com­mit­tee for In­vest­ments. These meet­ings proved the Uzbek side’s in­ter­est in ex­pan­sion of ties with Slo­vakia.

My coun­try is a mem­ber of the OECD (Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment) and have been in­cluded into the Schen­gen area for al­ready 10 years.

Ten years have passed since Euro be­came our of­fi­cial cur­rency. I think these as­pects will vir­tu­ally con­trib­ute deep­en­ing mu­tu­ally ad­van­ta­geous co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Slo­vakia and Uzbek­istan. Un­for­tu­nately, we couldn’t have man­aged yet to or­ga­nize a meet­ing of the joint In­ter-Depart­men­tal Com­mis­sion for Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion. Hope that my suc­ces­sor will continue the work on this is­sue. And the Uzbek side will as­sign a re­spon­si­ble agency for Slo­vakUzbek In­ter-Depart­men­tal Com­mis­sion, con­sid­er­ing re­cent changes in the struc­ture of the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters of the Re­pub­lic of Uzbek­istan.

Dur­ing the last months I of­ten in­formed my lead­er­ship about the on­go­ing trans­for­ma­tions in Uzbek­istan and the speed of these pro­cesses. Of course, I re­ported also on the re­al­iza­tion of the Strat­egy of Ac­tions and re­forms ini­ti­ated to lib­er­al­ize cur­rency and for­eign trade sys­tems. All these very im­por­tant, in my view, steps con­vince for­eign busi­ness and in­vestors of prof­itabil­ity of de­posit­ing their cap­i­tal into Uzbek econ­omy.

- It is known that the sphere of ed­u­ca­tion is con­sid­ered to be a suc­cess­ful trend in Uzbek-Slo­vak co­op­er­a­tion, but it is im­pos­si­ble also not to men­tion ac­ti­va­tion of cul­tural ex­change dur­ing Your lead­er­ship in the diplo­matic mission.

- First two years I de­voted much of my work­ing time to the fields of ed­u­ca­tion, cul­ture and tourism. These are those ar­eas that I am sat­is­fied. Not­with­stand­ing the dis­tance and ab­sence of di­rect flight we man­aged to ac­ti­vate ties at the level of pub­lic diplo­macy. The num­ber of Uzbek­ista­nis, who vis­ited Slo­vakia for 4,5 years, in­creased 2-3 times. There are sci­en­tists, stu­dents-schol­ars and busi­ness­men, sports­men and tourists. Many ex­hi­bi­tions, cul­tural events and con­certs of Slo­vak mu­si­cians were or­ga­nized. We achieved such good re­sults also ow­ing to the ef­forts of the Em­bassy em­ploy­ees.

- It hap­pened that Your mission is be­ing com­pleted dur­ing very ac­tive pe­riod of Uzbek­istani re­forms. The Re­pub­lic is un­der­go­ing great changes. Per­haps that is ex­actly now that such wide pos­si­bil­i­ties are open­ing be­fore the part­ner coun­tries, when many tasks fa­cil­i­tat­ing de­vel­op­ment of re­la­tions could be solved. Un­for­tu­nately, you must leave the coun­try…

- Of course, it is sad to fin­ish your diplo­matic mission du­ties in the coun­try you have been ac­cus­tomed to, but this an in­te­gral part of the diplo­mat’s work. In Au­gust 2, 2013 my mission was started in Uzbek­istan. At the end of Au­gust my wife and I vis­ited In­ter­na­tional Mu­si­cal Fes­ti­val “Sharq Taronalari”, tra­di­tion­ally held in Sa­markand. And it is in­ter­est­ing to note that my last trip, al­ready be­fore con­clud­ing my mission, was again in Sa­markand – to the In­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence “Cen­tral Asia: One Past and One Fu­ture”. This is an im­por­tant event, demon­strat­ing dy­namism and ur­gency of the re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in Cen­tral Asia. For­eign po­lit­i­cal ini­tia­tives of the Pres­i­dent Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziy­oyev on im­prov­ing re­la­tions with the neigh­bor coun­tries and ar­range­ment of re­gional di­a­logue is very highly as­sessed by the world com­mu­nity, and by my own coun­try, cor­re­spond­ingly.

To fur­ther progress of the for­eign po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue be­tween our coun­tries I would like to add that since July 1, 2018 Slo­vakia will pre­side at the Vishe­grad Group V-4, and in 2019 – in the OSCE (Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe).

As you see, our coun­tries have com­mon goals, tasks and themes for joint work in the sphere of in­ter­na­tional and re­gional diplo­macy.

- What will ex­actly re­main in your mem­ory?

- While de­part­ing I re­gret to leave our Uzbek friends and col­leagues from the diplo­matic corps. We’ll miss pleas­ant Tashkent cli­mate and sunny weather, de­li­cious veg­eta­bles and fruits, juicy mel­ons and water mel­ons, beau­ti­ful green parks and walks along the bank of the Ankhor canal.

But what is most sig­nif­i­cant, that will be kept in mind for ever is that Uzbek­istan is one of the cen­ters for world cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal her­itage and tourism. Dur­ing the years of my stay here I had a pos­si­bil­ity to visit Khorezm, Bukhara and Sa­markand, Ferghana, Kokand and Ter­mez. But the most fa­vorite cor­ner, which oc­cu­pied place in my heart, is Bukhara. To­day I can high­light the progress, which I no­ticed dur­ing my four years stay in Uzbek­istan. New apart­ment houses, bridges and hotels have grown up there, the in­fra­struc­ture has been im­proved dur­ing this pe­riod.

I’m leav­ing the coun­try with feel­ing of ac­com­plished diplo­matic mission. Us­ing this op­por­tu­nity, I’d like to con­grat­u­late hos­pitable and friendly Uzbek peo­ple with the Day of Con­sti­tu­tion, the main guar­an­tor of rights, in­ter­ests and free­doms of Uzbek peo­ple. I wish all in­hab­i­tants of Uzbek­istan well-be­ing, peace and pros­per­ity at the new stage of your coun­try de­vel­op­ment.

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