Uzbekistan president to visit Tajikistan

TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is to make his first visit to Tajikistan on March 9 and 10, in an effort to improve relations between the neighboring countries, Sputnik news agency reports.

Relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were strained during the rule of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s first post-independence president who ruled the country with an iron hand from 1991 until his death in September 2016, but that has begun to change since Mirziyoyev took office.

Since taking power in Tashkent in December 2016, Mirziyoyev has positioned himself as a reformer — including improving Uzbekistan’s frosty relations with its neighbors. He has visited Kyrgyzstan once, Turkmenistan thrice, and Kazakhstan four times in just over a year in office.

Karimov traveled to Dushanbe only twice in his quarter-century-long presidency: once in 2008 and once in 2014, both times as part of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) multinational summits. No such qualification is attached to Mirziyoyev’s visit, making it a historic moment in the two countries’ relations.

From 2010 until 2017, only two of the 16 checkpoints that allowed crossing between the two countries were open. On March 1, Tashkent announced the reopening of nine checkpoints.

Tashkent has resumed direct flights to Tajikistan for the first time since 1992. Uzbekistan may also abolish a toll on freight trucks and buses from Tajikistan entering the country, according to Asia Plus. They previously abolished a similar fee on rail freight.

The warming relationship between the two countries resulted in the fact that bilateral trade in 2017 was $236.8 million, more than 20 percent higher than in the previous year.


Times of Central Asia