Ambassador Spratlen’s Interview with “Jahon” Information Agency

Dear respected Madam Ambassador, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of U.S.-Uzbek diplomatic relations and 15th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership Declaration we would like to know your opinion on the achievements and results of our bilateral efforts during 25 years, specifically the implementation of the Declaration provisions.

The United States and Uzbekistan have taken great strides in building a wide and multi-faceted relationship built upon mutual interests and respect.  The signing of the Strategic Partnership Declaration fifteen years ago helped to enable the level of cooperation that we see today in the political, economic, military, and humanitarian spheres. The fruits of this agreement and our shared commitment to building bilateral relations can be seen in the recent high level visits from U.S. officials, the launch of new programs, and the open dialogue maintained between our countries. Working together with the Government of Uzbekistan, we look for new fields of joint activity that reflects tomorrow’s needs.   Achieving the full potential of our partnership will require continued open, candid, and constructive dialogue about issues important to both our countries. 

The United States was first to recognize Uzbekistan’s independence. Over these years, both sides gained remarkable potential and constructive experience working together in all directions of cooperation. Lately, very dynamic political cooperation was seen between the sides. How do you characterize the current agenda of U.S. – Uzbek partnership and perspectives to be added to the ongoing projects?

President George H.W. Bush acknowledged the independence of Uzbekistan on December 25, 1991. The United States’ support of Uzbekistan’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity has been unwavering in the following twenty-five years.  Our cooperation has spanned multiple U.S. presidential administrations and a historic transition for Uzbekistan in 2016 with the election of Shavkat Mirziyoyev after the passing of First President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov.

A qualitative new dimension in our multilateral relations was the regional format of cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and the United States, the mechanism of which was launched in Samarkand in November 2015.

Today, we cooperate with Uzbekistan on many important issues, and continually review the bilateral relationship to identify areas to further develop our partnership.  A recent exchange of letters between our two presidents lauds 25 years of cooperation at the highest levels. It also signals the desire on both sides to strengthen future engagement.

The economic and trade-investment sphere is a priority for cooperation between sides.  Recently, the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce held its regular meeting in Tashkent with 30 representatives of U.S. business circles.  The Chairperson of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Carolyn Lamm, stated that the United States considers Uzbekistan a key partner in the region and is interested to further the fruitful cooperation. How do you evaluate the meeting outcomes and is there a basis for confirming that the United States and Uzbekistan have a huge unused potential of cooperation in economic sphere?

Events such as the AUCC forum offer excellent opportunities for representatives of American and Uzbek businesses, as well as government officials, to exchange views on economic developments, priorities, and existing possibilities within Uzbekistan.

As I stated during my address at the forum, “the Uzbek-United States commercial relationship is an extremely important pillar for our overall bilateral relationship.”  However, there remains room to expand our commercial ties.  We are committed to continuing to work with Uzbekistan to realize its great potential for economic growth.  Uzbekistan’s geographic position at the heart of Central Asia provides an excellent platform for commerce and as home to half the population of Central Asia, it is a potential economic powerhouse.

In regards to investment, there are many American companies that have enjoyed success selling to or investing in Uzbekistan.  American companies continue to be interested in Uzbekistan’s economic potential and look to a transparent and welcoming business environment in order to become more active in Uzbekistan.

In this line, one should note that the United States and Uzbekistan are developing successful cooperation on cultural and humanitarian matters. The U.S. musical-folklore bands are traditional participants at the International Music Festival “Sharq Taronalari.”  We enjoyed the concerts of the bands “The Exchange” and “Alice Underground” recently.  Along these, we achieved results in cooperating on Education and Science and Music (sound partnership).  In your opinion, what additional measures should be taken to further the cultural and humanitarian ties between the U.S. and Uzbekistan.

We love to share U.S. music and culture with the people of Uzbekistan.   Our December concert featuring Alice Underground showed how music can bring people together, and the cultural exchange it creates is absolutely a two way street.  Our U.S. artists and performers consistently share how much they value their experiences in Uzbekistan, noting the warmth of the people, the talent of the local students and musicians with whom they interact, and the overall hospitality they feel during their visit.

Another area for continued engagement is English language learning.  We have had the opportunity to support the Government of Uzbekistan’s English language education initiatives with help from U.S. teachers and study materials.

There is great potential to expand both the breadth and depth of our activities related to cultural exchange and education, and I look forward to doing so through continued collaboration with our partners in the Government of Uzbekistan. 

Pamela L. Spratlen, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Pamela L. Spratlen, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan