Address to participants in the Second Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum 2021-11-17 15:20:00 President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, I am delighted to welcome the participants in the Second Russia-Uzbekistan Interregional Cooperation Forum. I believe in the importance of this bilateral framework and its relevance not only for promoting region-to-region ties between the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan, but also for strengthening our strategic partnership, which stands out for its intensity and vibrancy, and is truly multifaceted. Russia is one of Uzbekistan’s leading trading partners, ranking second in its foreign trade. Even during the pandemic, our economic ties continued to expand. In 2020, trade increased by 16 percent almost reaching US$6 billion, and in the first nine months of 2021 it grew by more than 6 percent. This is largely attributable to region-to-region cooperation. Russian regions that are proactive in maintaining economic ties with their partners in Uzbekistan include Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, as well as the Chelyabinsk, Moscow, Ivanovo and Samara regions. The construction of the Tashkent Metallurgical Plant and the Kandym Gas Processing Complex, as well as the launch in Uzbekistan of harvester production with Rostselmash’s participation are all examples of mutually beneficial cooperation in recent years. Russia is one of the main investors in Uzbekistan’s economy with over 150 joint projects currently underway worth over US$14 billion. The number of ventures with Russian capital increased 2.5 times over the past four years to exceed 2,000 entities. Let me note, in particular, the INNOPROM. Big Industrial Week in Uzbekistan exhibition. It took place in April 2021 with the participation of 13 Russian regions and resulted in the signing of 21 agreements worth some US$130 million. Of course, we welcome the interest expressed by our friends in Uzbekistan in stepping up their ties with their Russian partners, which is demonstrated by the fact that over the past two months delegations from Uzbekistan visited 20 Russian regions. This kind of cooperation has far from depleted its potential. There are many opportunities for undertaking new direct cooperation projects, creating value chains in manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and innovative technology. By playing a more proactive role within the Eurasian Economic Union our partners in Uzbekistan could further strengthen our cooperation. In late 2020, Uzbekistan became an observer in our integration structure, and we are certain that this will benefit Uzbekistan and all EAEU member states. Of course, region-to-region ties are not just about the economy or trade. We have built a solid record of accomplishments in working together on protecting the environment, water resources and forests, as well as biodiversity and conservation areas. We are carrying out joint projects for addressing the urgent environmental problems of the Aral Sea and facilitating socioeconomic development in the entire Aral Sea region. Russia and Uzbekistan are proactive in promoting their humanitarian ties, as well as stepping up their academic, educational and youth exchanges. The Second Russia-Uzbekistan Educational Forum, currently taking place at Lomonosov Moscow State University, will discuss these and many other important matters. By the way, Russian universities have 14 branches and representative offices in Uzbekistan. This number will increase to 16 next year. St Petersburg State University will open its branch in Tashkent. A number of other projects to improve Russian language teaching in Uzbekistan’s kindergartens and schools are underway. To conclude, I strongly believe that the Regional Forum will make a tangible contribution to further promoting the strategic partnership and allied relations between Russia and Uzbekistan and strengthen our neighbourly and mutually beneficial ties for the benefit of our peoples. I would like to thank the organisers and all the participants in this forum and wish them every success. Thank you for your attention.