Uzbek President Mirziyoyev and Turkish President Erdoğan addressed a news conference at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara after bilateral talks between the delegations. Before the conference, the heads of state signed a Joint Declaration aimed at improving Uzbekistan-Turkey ties.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hailed Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev's official visit to Turkey - the first by an Uzbek leader in decades.
He pointed out that Uzbekistan is a very strategic country with its population of 31.5 million. Uzbekistan is ranked 7th in natural gas, 4th in uranium reserves, 6th cotton producer in the world and the second largest exporter, it has other subsoil and surface resources, noting the existence of "tremendous" opportunities for cooperation in the fields of economy, health, defense industry, education, culture and agriculture.
Despite these figures, he said trade turnover between Uzbekistan and Turkey is not at the desired level, with about $ 1.2 billion in 2016 and that $ 900 million has already been reached in January-September 2017. Erdoğan expressed that they hoped that the two countries will increase this even further.
He added that under Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s leadership Uzbekistan is making "enormous progress" and that Turkey has serious experience, in particular the country is ranked 2nd in the world in terms of contracting and wants to share this experience with the Uzbeks. Erdoğan also noted that Turkish contractors want to build a ski center in Uzbekistan. He believes that the Uzbekistan-Turkey Business Forum to be held in Istanbul tomorrow will be very fruitful.
He also said that Uzbekistan is home to very important cultural heritage and cities dear for the Turkic culture and Islamic world. "I also want to give good news here. Turkish Airlines (THY) will launch regular Istanbul to Samarkand flights starting from March 16. Thus, the two brotherly people will have the opportunity to be much closer to each other."
He also announced that 22 accords were signed following the bilateral talks. Erdoğan said that four more agreements will be signed in Istanbul. So 26 agreements will lead to a crucial leap forward in bilateral ties. "All ministries and departments have been given instructions to develop ties with Uzbekistan. I am very happy as there is a similar will on the part of Uzbekistan" he said
Lastly, he also cited a quadrature of Uzbekistan's national poet Abdulla Aripov, expressing its message of one shall be strong and victorious together with brothers.
The President of Uzbekistan began his statement by thanking for the hospitality on display on the brotherly Turkish soil. "This 20-year break is already seen in our eyes, showing how much we have missed each other. The fact that we are understanding each other without pronouncing a word just by looking to each others eyes means really a lot. I would like to express my best wishes to the Turkish people and the President of Turkey on the occasion of the national holiday, which will be celebrated in the coming days", Mirziyoyev said."
Mirziyoyev stated that the two countries have similar positions on international issues, adding that sides had profound negotiations on trade, economic, logistical, cultural and touristic ties. He said that as an outcome of the talks the Joint Declaration has been signed aimed at bringing the bilateral relations to a strategic level and 35 different projects total worth of $3.5 billion dollars for 35 projects are to be signed in the forum in Istanbul tomorrow.
He also said that visa procedure has been simplified for Turkish citizens to improve relations between the two countries, adding that “visa-free days” will one day become a reality.
He added that the two-way trade volume increased by 29 per cent in January-September, but said it was not enough, adding that at least $5-6 billion was the level the sides would want to achieve.
He noted that one should not wait until March 2018 for Samarkand flights and requested the Uzbekistan Airways chief (Rozukulov) to give a promise to take Turkish journalists for a Samarkand trip free of charge. Erdoğan also asked the chairman of Turkish Airlines Ilker Aycı to promise that he also take journalists for a trip to Uzbekistan without charge.
Speaking about how Uzbekistan perceived Turkey, Mirziyoyev said, "We regard Turkey as a country which has huge political, economic and military potential, and a high reputation in the international arena. I would like to underline that Turkey is a reliable and important partner for us in the international platform. We are ready to mobilize all our efforts and opportunities for the welfare and peace of our brotherly people and for the development of comprehensive and long-term business ties".
Shavkat Mirziyoyev ended his speech by presenting his respects to the Turkish people.