SEPTEMBER 1, 2020
Thank you very much, and good morning, Ambassador Vakhabov.
It’s probably an understatement to say the world has changed since last year’s Independence Day celebration. Thank you, Ambassador Vakhabov, for bringing us together today, and for bringing Uzbekistan’s famous hospitality online.
I’m honored to congratulate Uzbekistan on the 29th anniversary of its independence.
Since 1991, the United States has been a steadfast supporter of Uzbekistan’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
We have built a strong foundation for our cooperation over nearly three decades of relations. Since 2016, this cooperation has grown substantially across all areas of our bilateral relationship, and the past year is no exception.
As Secretary Pompeo said during his February visit to Tashkent, the United States is a true partner to our friends in Uzbekistan. Whether it is in:
working together to promote regional stability and address common security threats;
promoting shared economic prosperity and connectivity within Central Asia and with Afghanistan;
expanding fundamental freedoms for all;
and building people to people ties,
It is not an overstatement to say: never before have our relations enjoyed such depth and breadth.
Our cooperation has only intensified over the past year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a testament to the strength of this partnership, and our mutual interest in developing closer ties.
Uzbekistan deserves recognition for its regional leadership in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. You have provided aid to your neighbors, such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and ensured trade continues to flow. We recognize the sacrifice required to provide this much-needed aid at a critical time.
With Uzbekistan’s support, our collaboration within the C5+1 regional diplomatic platform has also significantly increased in the past year. We’re looking forward to upcoming meetings , building off our June 30 C5+1 High Level Dialogue. That meeting was the third in less than a year. That’s a true testament to the importance we all place on this platform.
Our partnership with Uzbekistan to build economic and trade ties that bring Afghanistan and Central Asia closer together is also developing through the C5+1 and our trilateral and other engagements. We will also seek to further assist in Uzbekistan’s steps toward greater freedom for its citizens – particularly with regard to freedom of press and freedom of religion – and the institutional reforms necessary to make those steps irreversible. We are also grateful for Uzbekistan’s active support of the peace process in Afghanistan. All our joint efforts directly support the Administration’s Central Asia Strategy, a landmark demonstrating our commitment to Uzbekistan and the Central Asia region.
As Uzbekistan winds up its third decade of independence, the United States looks forward to working with our Uzbekistan partners to further cement the reforms needed to attract investment and establish the democratic and social policies that will allow the people of Uzbekistan to look forward to the next thirty years being a period of high growth and institutional development – setting the foundation for prosperity and improved well being for all.
Mr. Ambassador, congratulations once again on your Independence Day.