KWON YONG-WOO: “MUTUALLY ADVANTAGEOUS COOPERATION BETWEEN UZBEKISTAN AND SOUTH KOREA WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP”
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The Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea are time-tested reliable strategic partners. Thanks to the regular nature of top-level dialogue and mutual striving, relations between our states are steadily developing in all areas.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the state independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan, a correspondent of UzA had a conversation with the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of Uzbekistan, Kwon Yong-Woo.
— Mr Ambassador, our conversation is taking place on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan. What is your evaluation of the reforms carried out in various spheres in our country in the years of independence, in particular in the economic sphere?
— Uzbekistan has big economic potential, as the country possesses rich natural resources and highly qualified personnel and due to the country’s important geographical position.
Thanks to large-scale reforms in the political, economic, social and other spheres started after gaining independence and to socio-political stability, Uzbekistan has turned into an industrial state with a dynamically developing market economy.
The country is successfully implementing programmes of industrial and infrastructural development and a programme of setting up local production of goods. This is helped by the creation of the Navoi free industrial economic zone and the Angren and Jizzakh free economic zones and the wide attraction of foreign investments.
The Republic of Korea is taking an active part in this work through implementing no-string aid projects and knowledge sharing programmes and through making investments. I hope that our mutually advantageous partnership with Uzbekistan will only develop and strengthen in future.
— What are the current state of the relations between Uzbekistan and South Korea and their prospects? In your opinion, what areas of cooperation between our countries are of more priority?
— Next year Uzbekistan and South Korea will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between them. During these years, our countries became strategic partners in all spheres, including the socio-political, socio-economic and cultural spheres.
Regular meetings between the heads of the two countries help to further develop our cooperation.
In June 2014, the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye, visited Uzbekistan first among the Central Asian states.
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, made a state visit to the Republic of Korea in May 2015.
During that visit, there was discussion of issues of strengthening cooperation in such important spheres as logistics and investments, energy, natural resources and IT (information technologies), finance, renewable energy sources, culture and defence.
In May this year, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Hwang Kyo-ahn, visited the Republic of Uzbekistan and attended the official ceremony of completing a grand joint project – the construction of the Ustyurt gas-chemical complex at the Surgil field.
The Republic of Korea will continue to work on the second and third Surgil projects, thus developing mutually advantageous cooperation between our countries.
We believe that such areas of partnership with Uzbekistan as participation in the programme of infrastructural development and industrial modernization for the years 2015-2019, the development of e-government, renewable energy sources, information technologies, health care and finance are very promising.
Moreover, Uzbekistan has great potential as an important transportation hub in the region. Therefore, I think it is advisable to continue the implementation of joint projects in the sphere of infrastructure and logistics.
— At the initiative of President Islam Karimov, 2016 was declared the Year of Maternal and Child Health in Uzbekistan. What is your opinion about consistent work being carried out in our country for the protection of mothers’ and children’s health?
— In the process of rapid economic development after gaining independence, Uzbekistan paid a great deal of attention to reforms in the area of formation of a healthy generation, the protection of motherhood and childhood and the strengthening of the material and technical base of the health care system, which is worthy of the highest praise.
Our countries are actively cooperating in this area, too. Now jointly with KOICA and through EDCF projects a project of creating a republican multi-functional children’s hospital in Tashkent is being implemented.
Moreover, medical organizations of the Republic of Korea and South Korean companies working in Uzbekistan are helping by providing children with free medical treatment and operations, by developing distant treatment and strengthening interaction between medical organizations of the two countries.
— What was the evaluation of the potential of our agro-industrial complex by South Korean companies which participated in the I international fruits and vegetables trade fair in Tashkent?
— Agriculture, the processing industry and services are called “the sixth industry” not by accident. Food provision is one of the main issues for the international community. And therefore the role of agriculture is rising with every passing day.
Taking this into account, the international fruits and vegetables trade fair in Tashkent is of very important significance as many representatives of South Korean companies and specialists participated in it and signed many mutually beneficial agreements.
Uzbekistan has favourable natural-climatic conditions and a proper qualified workforce and is actively implementing reforms aimed at increasing the production of fruits and vegetables, improving their quality, developing the processing industry and expanding the structure and geography of export, and this work is giving its high results.
Today, Uzbekistan exports agricultural products to 80 countries. The good taste and quality of fruits and vegetables produced in sunny Uzbekistan have long been known to the rest of the world. I thinks that with the expansion of air transportation, the day is not far off when your country will become one of the world’s leading exporters of agricultural products.
I hope that thanks to joint efforts, the export of high quality fruits and vegetables from Uzbekistan to South Korea will increase significantly, and also the entire trade in agricultural products between our countries will be stepped up.
— What do you think about work being done at the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, to strengthen peace and stability in the region?
— I think that from the very first years of independence, the Republic of Uzbekistan chose a peaceful foreign policy and is making a big contribution to the keeping of peace and stability in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan’s active participation in the effort to achieve stability and peace in Afghanistan and its firm position that this is possible only through conducting political negotiations, not through military force, should be noted especially.
The initiative put forward by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, at the UN’s General Assembly in 1993 on creating a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia deserves the highest praise.
The signing at a UN Security Council session in 2014 of a document on security guarantees to the treaty on creating a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia completed the full realization of this initiative.
— What are you wishes to the people of Uzbekistan on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan?
— I heartily congratulate the people of Uzbekistan on the forthcoming Independence Day and great successes the country achieved in the past 25 years. Your people have the right to be proud of their achievements. I wish the country further prosperity and development, and wish the Uzbek people happiness.