The FINANCIAL — Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev, making a landmark visit to Tajikistan, has vowed to swiftly build stronger relations after years of tension between the Central Asian neighbors.
Speaking alongside Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe on March 9, Mirziyoev told reporters that “Tashkent will be steadily developing ties with Dushanbe in all directions.”
“Tajik-Uzbek relations will be reaching the level of strategic partnership in the nearest future,” he said, adding after they emerged from behind closed doors that the talks were “very productive.”
“Actually, there are no problems left that could hinder the development of our bilateral relations,” Mirziyoev said.
Rahmon called Mirziyoev’s two-day visit “fateful and important” and said that Tajikistan will be “supporting Uzbekistan’s efforts to boost regional cooperation.”
Mirziyoev, who came to power following the death of his predecessor, Islam Karimov, in 2016, has said forging better relations with Uzbekistan’s Central Asian neighbors is a priority for his government, according to RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service.
During the autocratic Karimov’s 27-year rule in Central Asia’s most populous nation, its relations with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan were strained by disputes over transit routes, border security, water resources, and other issues.
Uzbekistan’s ties with Dushanbe were the most difficult, marred by Tashkent’s role in the devastating 1992-97 civil war in Tajikistan and the use of Tajik territory by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) militants in the late 1990s.
Uzbekistan planted land mines along its borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Dushanbe has complained many times about Uzbekistan unilaterally demarcating the border and constructing watchtowers and border posts without informing Tajik authorities.
Ahead of Mirziyoev’s March 9-10 visit, officials from both countries said he and Rahmon would discuss a wide range of bilateral issues, including politics, trade, economic, financial, tourism, and transportation.
They said 25 documents, including an agreement on border delimitation and simplified border crossing, would be signed.
On March 8, nine crossing points on the Tajik-Uzbek border — eight on roads and one on a railway line — resumed operations after being closed for years.