Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Nowadays, strong political, trade and economic ties link Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea. Personal contacts between the leaders of these two countries set new dynamics and strengths in the interaction between Tashkent and Seoul. Thus, from 22 to 25 November 2017, Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited South Korea on a four-day visit, where he met with the President of South Korea Moon Jae-in. In turn, from 18 to 21 April 2019, the President of South Korea paid a state visit to Uzbekistan at the invitation of Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Following the aforementioned visit of the President of South Korea, relations between the two countries were raised to the level of a special strategic partnership. Striking evidence of this was the signing of the Joint Declaration on a Special Strategic Partnership, which reflects the dynamics of Uzbek-South Korean interaction in recent years.
Yesterday, December 2, the Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan Sardor Umurzakov and the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Korea Hong Nam Ki held negotiations in the format of a video conference, where the agenda included issues of preparation for the upcoming visit of President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Republic of Korea.
As previously reported, the President of Uzbekistan will visit South Korea in December this year. The President of Uzbekistan himself announced this on November 24, saying: “We will go to Ashgabat, then to Kazakhstan, then to Korea. Why? Because we must quickly attract investors to the opportunities that are opening up in our country.”
Earlier it became known that Uzbekistan and South Korea are planning to sign a free trade agreement in the near future. The Podrobno news agency writes that the document may be signed during the visit. In addition, the Korean side plans to partially open the borders for migrants from Uzbekistan.
The development of Central Asian-South Korean relations
Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic and Interregional Studies Sanzhar Valiev in an interview with Kun.uz noted that with the help of the Republic of Korea, large-scale joint projects in the field of healthcare and the digitalization process have been implemented to date.
According to the expert, one can expect with great confidence that the visit of Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Republic of Korea will give a start to a new, even more grandiose stage in relations between the two countries. Since Seoul’s external priorities include expanding ties with partners within the framework of the New Northern Policy, the South Korean side assigns an important place to the development of relations with Uzbekistan and Central Asian countries, which are geographically at the center of this initiative.
In this context, Central Asia Analytical Network writes that despite the fact that South Korea, compared to other players, came to the region late, Seoul’s lack of geopolitical ambitions contributes to the fact that its participation does not arouse the same suspicions or negative reactions. In addition, the country, which often serves as an economic and even cultural model for the Central Asian republics, is not going to lag behind the trend and has its own plans to intensify cooperation in Eurasia through the formation of a northern economic community. Emerging Europe also supports this view and emphasizes that the liberal Asian economic center, South Korea, is becoming an increasingly active player in the Central Asian region as a counterbalance to Russian and Chinese influence.
On the other hand, the IA Center writes that multipolarity and polycentrism, the occurrence of which is argued in the international expert community, are being implemented today not only in theory but also in practice – at least in the space of Central Asia. Thus, according to the research center, the rapid inclusion of South Korea in the economic processes of the Central Asian subsystem of international relations expands the balancing possibilities for the Central Asian countries.