Monday, 15, April, 2024

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Uzbekistan Nikolai Doroshenko made remarks at a press briefing about the Uzbek-Ukrainian ties on Monday.

Two-way trade

According to him, at a recent meeting with Foreign Minister Bakhtiyor Saidov, the parties agreed to develop a roadmap for economic cooperation in the coming years.

“This collaboration across all industries—they never stopped. There are difficulties with logistics, since supplies of goods from Ukraine go through the Caspian Sea - this is a long logistics shoulder, which increases the cost, but, nevertheless, businesses are working. They worked out certain schemes for the supply of products,” the ambassador said.

He underscored that due to military actions, the two-way trade between Uzbekistan and Ukraine, which had started to grow by the beginning of 2022, fell again. At the end of 2023, it topped $320 million, although by the end of 2021 it reached $747 million.

“This is half of the previous volume. But trade is still going on, with a gradual resumption of items, with gradual increase. And we really hope that this upward will continue,” he added.

Nikolai Doroshenko said that the Ukrainian embassy proposed holding a bilateral business forum in the spring in cooperation with the Uzbek-Ukrainian Business Council. “Perhaps we will agree to hold such a forum with Ukrainian and Uzbek business women. This idea is still in the works, but has already aroused interest,” added Nikolai Doroshenko.

It should be underscored that the “female” format of the event can be proposed due to the current martial law in Ukraine, under which men cannot leave the state.

The ambassador underscored that Ukrainian manufacturers of pharmaceutical products are implementing investment projects in Uzbekistan. A year ago, Yuria-Pharm acquired the Reka-Med enterprise in Uzbekistan with a loan from the EBRD, and the production is currently being re-equipped. The Lekhim company, which opened a representative office in Uzbekistan in 2021, has already built a large production complex (as Spot wrote, a 3-hectare site was selected for the construction of the plant on the outskirts of Tashkent, not far from the local pharmaceutical cluster Tashkent Pharma Park, which is under construction). Despite the fact that some difficulties have arisen with the registration of the land cadastre, the Ukrainian Embassy expects that the enterprise will soon begin equipping the plant. The cost of this project is $42.5 million.

Rehabilitation of children from Ukraine in Tashkent province

Nikolai Doroshenko expressed gratitude to Uzbekistan for the fact that the country hosted 50 children from Ukraine for recreation and rehabilitation in the summer of 2023. “These are children from the occupied territories, these are children whose parents died, whose parents are in captivity. The Uzbek side received them very cordially, providing simply luxurious conditions. It should be underscored that this project received the highest rating of a number of similar ones. Ukrainian children traveled to different countries, including European ones - to Switzerland, Poland, Bulgaria. But the bar set by Uzbekistan was simply unattainable,” the Ukrainian ambassador emphasized.

“At a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, we talked about the fact that this project can be continued. We hope that this year it will also be proposed to invite children - now perhaps 100 people - for rehabilitation, especially from those provinces of Ukraine that are under constant bombardment and from the occupied territories,” said Nikolai Doroshenko.

Presentation of works by Ukrainian artists about Uzbekistan

The Ambassador also spoke about another humanitarian project planned for this year.

“This year marks 80 years since Ukrainian artists were evacuated to Samarkand during World War II,” said Nikolai Doroshenko. — After its completion, they returned to their homeland, but here they painted a huge number of paintings - watercolors, oils, graphics... Our art historians have collected this layer of works about Uzbekistan, and now they will be published in the Antiquarian magazine. It will have 140 pages in Uzbek and Ukrainian. I hope that in April we will hold a presentation of this issue of the magazine in Kyiv along with an exhibition of the works themselves at the National Museum “Kiev Art Gallery”, and then in Uzbekistan - in Tashkent or Samarkand.”

“This is a gesture of gratitude to the Uzbek people for treating Ukrainians with such cordiality and attention both during the Second World War and now, having accepted our children on vacation. This speaks not only about the tradition of hospitality, but also about culture,” the ambassador emphasized. He added that he would like to organize an exhibition of these works by Ukrainian artists about Uzbekistan in Tashkent, but there are some difficulties with the delivery of paintings that are considered art objects.

Labor migration

The Ambassador of Ukraine specifically focused on the topic of labor migration to Ukraine. First of all, he warned residents of Uzbekistan going on labor migration to Russia against being sent to work in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

Bloomberg recently reported that Russia was hiring thousands of migrant workers from neighboring countries for construction work in the occupied territories of Ukraine, but instead some of them are forced to dig trenches and fight at the front. In November 2023, the Center for National Resistance of Ukraine estimated that there were more than 100 thousand migrants from Central Asia in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, we have facts that labor migrants from Uzbekistan in Russia are lured to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine, allegedly for the construction and restoration of destroyed houses, and then their documents are taken and sent to the front. I conveyed information about this to the Uzbek side and asked the country’s authorities to warn citizens against this. As far as I know, the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan periodically reminds that mercenary activity is a criminal offense under the law and is punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 10 years,” said Nikolai Doroshenko.

The Ambassador of Ukraine emphasized that by traveling to the occupied territories of Ukraine through the Russian Federation, citizens violate international law. “This is, first of all, a danger for them, that no one will protect them, they could die during hostilities. Therefore, it is important for us that people understand: by agreeing to a higher salary, a person is selling his life,” he explained. The ambassador confirmed that although obtaining data from the occupied territories is difficult, the figure of 100 thousand migrants from Central Asia in these regions is close to reality.

He underscored that there were legal standards for entering Ukraine for the purpose of employment, given that a visa-free regime still operates between the countries.

“Uzbekistan is seeking to send workers to rebuild Ukraine. We are already receiving such requests from businesses so that your nationals can come to work in safe places where they are guaranteed insurance, protection and housing. For example, one of the entrepreneurs in Ukraine said that he was ready to hire specialist builders for a salary of $800 a month plus food, accommodation and insurance,” said Nikolai Doroshenko. He added that the embassy is ready to establish cooperation on organized recruitment for work in Ukraine with the relevant government agencies of Uzbekistan.

Development of political ties between Uzbekistan and Ukraine

The ambassador underscored that Ukraine is strongly interested in developing dialogue with Uzbekistan at different levels: “We are interested in having both a visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a visit by the President in the future. Uzbekistan today is a priority for Ukraine in cooperation in the Central Asian region, one of the key countries with an actively developing economy.”

Nikolai Doroshenko said that he proposed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold political consultations between Uzbekistan and Ukraine in Kyiv (since previous consultations were held in 2021 in Tashkent).

“I proposed to hold them even now, since Kyiv is a safe city, many leaders of foreign states and governments visit it. I hope that if the Uzbek side makes a decision and agrees. It would be great if we resumed political dialogue,” he said.

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