Uzbekistan: Diplomacy of Interregional Cooperation


The new version of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, adopted following a national referendum a year ago, determined the vector of the country’s development for decades to come. The Basic Law, as recognized by authoritative international experts, helps to strengthen the state independence of our country, increase its international authority, strengthen friendly and mutually beneficial political and economic relations of Uzbekistan with foreign states and international organizations.

A novelty of the Constitution was, among other things, Article 18, which reads: “The Republic of Uzbekistan pursues a peace-loving foreign policy aimed at the comprehensive development of bilateral and multilateral relations with states and international organizations.” This constitutional norm was dictated by the foreign policy strategy of the republic, which acquired new accents in the field of establishing political ties, mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, attracting foreign investment, active interaction in the field of cultural and humanitarian exchanges and interregional cooperation (primarily with neighboring states) on the basis of equality and mutual support, peace and harmony.

In the context of an unpredictable global situation, cooperation between the countries of Central Asia, their united voice in international organizations, including the UN, regular Consultative Meetings of Heads of State, meetings of country leaders and foreign ministers in the “CA+” format have become a popular platform for mutual dialogue for the benefit of prosperity of the region. It can be said that constructive solutions to border issues of Uzbekistan with its neighbors are an indicator of the dynamics of the intensity of development of Central Asian cooperation, including interregional cooperation between regions and cities, which is a logical continuation of the foreign policy and foreign economic activities of our state. This is quite understandable, since people in the border areas have lived next door for centuries, know each other better, and have developed close family and friendly ties.

According to experts, the prosperity of Uzbekistan is inextricably linked with the sustainable development of Central Asia. In this context, our republic stands for the transformation of Central Asia into one of the important centers of economic growth and investment activity, an integral link in interregional interconnectedness and the global value chain. And the Strategy “Uzbekistan–2030” defines the tasks of strengthening the atmosphere of interethnic harmony in society and developing friendly ties with foreign countries, including cooperation between regions (twinning relations).

The first formal attempts to develop urban diplomacy were made in the 19th century. At the time, diplomacy was something a small group of cities were involved in, and it wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that it became much more widespread. In 1957, representatives of sister cities created the World Federation of Sister Cities (WFTG), which then became part of the international organization United Cities and Local Authorities (UCLG), whose headquarters are located in Barcelona (Spain). UCLG members are 141 of the 191 UN member countries. This is the only local government organization affiliated with the UN.

International relations of regions, as a rule, do not include political, diplomatic, consular and military relations, which are the prerogative of the state. They are carried out in the field of economics, science, technology, ecology, culture, and education. Regions of foreign countries, foreign legal entities and individuals can be partners of regions in the international arena. Regions can enter into international relations only with the permission of the state, which vests them with the appropriate powers.

The fundamental legal regulation of interregional cooperation is provided for in the Constitution, legislation in the field of foreign policy, and international treaties of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Interstate treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance, intergovernmental agreements on interregional cooperation, partnership agreements between administrative-territorial units directly affect the legal aspects of cooperative ties. For example, the Treaty between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Kazakhstan on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance cemented the norm of cooperation between the administrative-territorial entities of the two states:

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Uzbekistan and the European Union pays special attention to activities aimed at maintaining and developing regional cooperation.

In order to effectively resolve priority issues of Uzbek-Kyrgyz bilateral cooperation and bring relations between the two countries to a qualitatively new level, on September 6, 2017, the governments of the two countries established the Council of khokims of the border regions of the Republic of Uzbekistan and plenipotentiary representatives of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in the border regions under the patronage of the prime ministers of the two countries

The Republic of Uzbekistan has entered into agreements on interregional cooperation with many neighboring countries – Azerbaijan, Belarus, Hungary, Russia and other countries. Uzbekistan is interested in using the existing potential of interregional cooperation to expand and strengthen mutual trade and attract investment with foreign partners. They enshrine the provision that regions and their competent authorities, in accordance with the legislation of their states and international treaties to which their states are parties, contribute to the expansion and development of mutually beneficial interregional cooperation in the trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres, agriculture, healthcare, tourism and environmental protection, as well as in other areas.

Interregional forums have become a fruitful platform for cooperation, where regions of our country present their goods, and following the results of meetings in B2B and G2B formats, packages of trade and investment agreements are signed. As part of such events, exhibitions of goods produced in different regions of Uzbekistan are organized. To date, Uzbekistan has held two forums with Belarus, one with China and three with Russia.

It should be noted that meetings of representatives of the regions of Uzbekistan with foreign partners are held on a regular basis and are aimed at achieving specific practical results to strengthen bilateral ties in the field of trade and economics, interaction in science, education, culture, sports and tourism, and contribute to the development of industrial and agricultural cooperation ,

An important result of bilateral cooperation is the legal formalization of twinning relations between regions (cities) of Uzbekistan and foreign countries. Over the past two years, Tashkent has concluded partnership and cooperation agreements with Doha (Qatar) and Minsk (Belarus), and the Bukhara region with the Iranian province of Hamadan. Strong ties have also been established between the regions of Uzbekistan and the PRC: Samarkand and Qingdao, Tashkent region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Syrdarya region and Shaanxi province.

Uzbekistan actively interacts with partners in the Council for Interregional and Cross-Border Cooperation of Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States. According to the CIS Executive Committee, our country has concluded about one hundred agreements between the regions of Uzbekistan and the regions of the Commonwealth countries.

As you can see, over the years of state independence, Uzbekistan has been confidently developing and already has a solid legal framework in the field of interregional cooperation, based on the Constitution and generally recognized principles and norms of international law. They are an important link in interstate relations and evidence of the peaceful policy of our state.