Twenty six bilateral agreements were signed as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev met in Ankara on October 25. Mirziyoyev’s two-day trip to Ankara is the first official visit paid by an Uzbek president to Turkey since 1999.
Turkish businesses were forced out of Uzbekistan under the late President Islam Karimov, but they are now expected to start re-engaging with the Uzbek market with Erdogan having noted that he believes relations between the two countries have this year “come to life”. In May, Uzbekistan hosted an Uzbek-Turkish Business forum for the first time in nine years. During that gathering, the two sides signed agreements worth $2bn, including 30 projects in the textile, pharmaceutical and banking sectors.
Mirziyoyev, who succeeded Karimov late last year, recently signed a decree ordering a restitution of assets to Turkish company Demir Holding. The assets were confiscated during an ugly crackdown on Turkish investors in 2011.
The Uzbek president is gaining a reputation as something of a reformist, both on the economic and human rights fronts. His currency reform should attract foreign investors who can now more feasibly repatriate profits, his commitment to ending forced and child labour in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan has pleased the international financial institutions including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development—the former is set to process a request from Tashkent for a $1bn loan, while the latter is returning to Uzbekistan after a decade, having left after falling out with iron-fisted ruler Karimov—and the release of dissident prisoners has attracted some positive headlines.
The Uzbek president’s visit to Ankara also concluded with the two sides agreeing on launching Turkish Airlines flights between Istanbul and Samarkand as well as issuing one-year multiple entry visas for Turkish business persons. Mirziyoyev additionally announced that Turkish tourists will be granted one-month visas.
"The meeting at the presidential level took place after a 20-year break, so it is of great importance to us. We held one-on-one meetings with Mirziyoyev, and then negotiations between delegations. These meetings were very productive", Erdogan said.
As many as 411 Uzbek enterprises are jointly owned by Turkish investors.