Leaving with Feeling of Accomplished Mission
- 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.