Sunday, 16, December, 2018

President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the invitation of the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, today left Tashkent for Paris for an official visit.

This visit of the Uzbek President should open a new stage in Uzbek-French ties. Uzbekistan wants France to be its strategic partner.

A few days before the visit of Shavkat Mirziyoyev in France, the elements of discussion have taken shape. For his first official visit to a EU country, the Uzbek President will be in Paris to enhance cooperation between France and Uzbekistan. The visit will begin at UNESCO Headquarters and will end at the Louvre Museum.

More broadly, Sodiq Safoev, First Deputy Speaker of the Uzbek Senate, told that many topics will be discussed: politics, security, economic cooperation, education and culture.

However, it is in the economic field that the interests should prevail. "We hope to sign 4 billion euros worth of deals," said Safoev, who is in Paris for the first meeting of the board of directors of the Society for the Study, Preservation and Popularization of the Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan. Few details have filtered, but it seems that a significant part of this figure should be found in a contract between the Uzbek state and Orano (formerly Areva) for the exploitation of uranium fields in Uzbekistan. The French company could also help Tashkent enhance its skills before launching its own nuclear power plant. According to Sodiq Safoev, "serious discussions" are under way.

Uzbekistan also expects a lot from the opening of an Uzbek branch of a major French university, following the planned opening of a branch of a French fashion school in Tashkent. Representatives from the Paris Academy are currently in the country to discuss it. "Deep cooperation can only be based on common values," said Sodiq, who has emphasized on long educational collaborations between Tashkent and Paris.

Choice of France, an important symbol for Tashkent

Safoev also praised France's merits in space, telecommunications and environmental protection. A final and particularly important dimension for Tashkent, as the Aral Sea disaster continues to weigh, and the state of water resources in Central Asia continues to be of utmost concern. In order to advance on the subject, Sodiq Safoev notably recalled that Uzbekistan had ratified the Paris agreement on September 27 and that it intended to join the International Solar Alliance.

Politically, the choice of France is a strong symbol for Tashkent. "We recognize the global role of France, with France’ new, more dynamic role, including in the region of Central Asia," said the Uzbek politician. More specifically, Uzbekistan is sensitive to the European values, presenting itself in particular as a "European-style" state, with notably a constitution largely inspired by that of the Fifth Republic. "Today, France plays an increasingly important role in Europe," said Sodiq Safoev.

More broadly, Uzbekistan hopes that this visit will allow both countries to take a step forward. The goal that Tashkent and Paris become truely strategic partners.

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