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Speeches by President Niyazov and President Karimov in Bukhara on November 19, 2004

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Ashgabat, 21 November 2004 (nCa) --- Presidents Niyazov and Karimov met in Bukhara 19 November 2004. After tête-à-tête they moved to the main conference room where they continued talks in expanded bilateral format. Here is the transcript of the tape of their talks in the conference room:

Islam Karimov:

Dear Saparmurat Atayevich [Niyazov], Dear Turkmen friends - It is a great pleasure to welcome and meet you in Bukhara. Our meeting here symbolizes our deep relations, going back to centuries, between our brotherly nations, our brotherly countries. This meeting in Bukhara is a logical and natural one in our relations and, no doubt, it will begin a new era in our dynamic ties and relations. This will serve the interests of our people, the use of enormous potentials of states.

Turkmenistan has had great success under your leadership, Saparmurat Atayevich. During the years of independence Turkmenistan has developed in state, public spheres, also in spiritual revival, keeping peace, stability and well being in the country. All these achievements make us - your friends and close neighbours of independent and neutral Turkmenistan - happy [that Turkmenistan] reached all these heights by its own sources, using the rich potential in a short period of history.

Dear Saparmurat Atayevich, We consider your present visit a good opportunity to discuss all the issues [in bilateral relations] at the top level between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. We will also discuss issues of regional and global nature that we face today.

I am sure our present relations will enable us to discuss the issues from a common point of view, demonstrating friendship, mutual trust, and good neighbourliness.

Our meeting is in the centre of attention of the world community as well because stability in Central Asia depends as a whole on our relations and on the decisions on economic and commercial and other issues [that we may take here today].

Dear friends, in the talks held a moment ago in private, we discussed with Saparmurat Atayevich openly and in detail a whole bunch of issues related to Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan relations that are vitally important for both sides. [We also discussed] regional security and stability.

Development of events in Central Asia reflects contradictory processes: international terrorism, extremism, narco-traffic, these are problems that concern all the states in the region. Objective truth of the present period is that we cannot face these problems, these challenges, alone. We must cooperate to prevent these threats. We support the initiative of Turkmenistan about active involvement of the United Nations in the regional problems. Moreover, the actions of the regional countries can be coordinated in the framework of the UN and other international bodies.

At present, in our struggle against terrorism, it is very important to oppose the extremist ideology that spoils the spiritual development of our youth and leads to their involvement in terrorist groups.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are home to great thinkers and this fact should play its positive role in opposing extremist ideology.

The situation in the region and in the world creates the need for political dialogue and to unite our efforts in future on all issues that concern us.

We have to revive interstate commission bilateral relations. We haven't had a meeting of this commission for a long time and it is necessary to convene its session in the nearest future.

Dear friends, Dear Saparmurat Atayevich; To deepen our relations we already have about 100 inter-state and inter-branch agreements. Today we would sign three documents here. They are being signed at the level of the heads of the state. We have reciprocal desire to strengthen mutual trust, respect, independence, and sovereignty. The neutral status of Turkmenistan provides stability to the entire region. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have a good saying: Your next-door neighbour is better than your distant relative. The two countries share a long border, more than 2000 kilometers.

Most important perspective talks are to open trading centers in border areas, deepening of interaction in customs house organs, to provide water to the farms in the bordering areas without interruptions to the bordering areas of our countries.

We are pleased with the trade turnover between our two countries. In 2002, it was US $ 70 million and during the 9 months of the current year it has already reached US $ 140 million.

Transit of cargo is very important. During the 8 months [of this year] Turkmenistan exported through Uzbekistan 1.3 million tons of cargo. During the same period 2 million tons of Uzbek cargo passed through Turkmen territory. Taking into account the existing potential of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, we can develop these relations.

In this connection I want to recall the Serakhs (Turkmenistan) meeting with Saparmurat Atayevich where heads of many states were present. At that time I didn't know the real value of this railway line [connecting Central Asia with Iran]. Serakhs connects Turkmenistan and the whole of Central Asia with Iran. After a while I got to know its importance much better. This is thanks to your farsighted understanding of the cooperation between our states. Connection with Indian Ocean and Arab states plays a great role in our relations.

We should be interested in decreasing the negative impact of the Aral Sea. It is our common pain, our common problem. We have to solve this issue ourselves as no one would come to help us solve it. We have had enough experience with many people who come to hold seminars and speeches about the Aral, lots of meetings, but they were of little use for us. Japan is the only one that helps us. Japan is the only country that helps Uzbekistan in this sphere; maybe they help you too. But all the rest, especially the World Bank, and others, have become ineffective in this sphere.

We have cooperation in humanitarian side: In Uzbekistan one national and five regional culture centers of ethnic Turkmens [are working]. In 45 schools of Uzbekistan we have Turkmen language classes; in all, 14000 children are going to these schools. In Bukhara Turkmen children have these classes, some of them were here in the [reception] ceremony today. They are expecting good results from today's talks. If we tell them that cooperation of our nations is our priority, they would feel support of the state.

This meeting would be an important event in our relations. It will promote the expansion of good neighbourliness, equality, mutually beneficial relations of our two countries.

Thank you.

Saparmurat Niyazov:

Dear Islam Abdulganiyevich [Karimov] - I have nothing to add to what you have said. I agree with your comments and proposals. I want to thank you for the warm words, for the invitation to Bukhara to strengthen our ties in all spheres of economy, culture, and security. This [meeting] serves the interests of Uzbek people and Turkmen people. In Turkmenistan we support these proposals.

I want to say that we highly appreciate the hardworking Uzbek people, their contribution toward the work carried our here on cooperation and promotion of friendship between our people.

I know Islam Abdulganiyevich since 1985, 19 years already. During this period we have implemented good projects; we have had wonderful cooperation. There were periods of stagnancy also depending on the changing situation in the region.

We began our work [cooperation] before the disintegration of USSR. At that time we were criticized. We were helpful and supportive to each other all the time.

After the beak-up of the Soviet Union we were left alone with out ideas and thoughts. People with economic, political and cultural ties were cut off [from each other] because of difficulties [created by dissolution of USSR]. People of Central Asia were not to blame for this. These problems arose from subjective and objective conditions created by the break up of USSR. During this period Islam Abdulganiyevich and I headed our states; we worked, in some areas we met with success, at others we were not quite successful.

Every state chose its own way of political, economic, cultural reforms. During this time coordination with the neighbours, with CIS countries [was perceived differently by each]. Many realized later how CIS was organized then. How it worked and acted as a centre [probably a synonym for Kremlin]. We had these experiences. We learned a lot during that period and now we can manage better with out tasks.

In recent years - after 2002 - we strengthened as independent states in political orientation, economic and social development. Not all the states had equal potential, especially in the energy resources, directly deciding economic development, but Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have these [energy resources] at present, [these resources] provide development [potential] for these states. This is a positive factor in our development.

During this period we signed many agreements - about 100 on policy, economy, culture between our countries. They worked for the benefit of the people. In Turkmenistan we appreciate Uzbekistan greatly as a good neighbour, friend, hard working people. One can learn much from Uzbekistan. Cooperation can be fruitful between the two states.

We will have more political consultations, social life, without any damage to any side, any nation. During the years of independence we want to strengthen friendship in the region as a whole. Every year in the capital of each republic we can get together to exchange opinions. It would be consultative meeting of the heads of state of the Central Asian countries in order to foster ties among us permanently; no political obligations during these meetings; the five presidents can meet, each would express ideas and wishes and exchange views on cooperation. These non-obligatory meetings would be useful annually. Our heads would find ways of further cooperation.

I fully support your proposal to expand the role of the United Nations, OSCE, and other regional organizations. As we noted during the talks, this would meet our aims stated in the agreement.

Our three new agreements would distinctly regulate our relations especially in border areas - three regions and Karakalpak autonomous republic on your side and two provinces, Doshoguz and Lebap, in Turkmenistan.

There may be some small problems in trade, crossing of the borders, [movement of] contraband; all these create mistrust among the heads [of state]. Now we have prepared good agreements. The relations are regularized in them, property matters are also considered. For instance, Karshi canal and others. We are ready to form seasonal working groups of water economy ministry and your specialists so that they can observe the use of water everywhere along the borders. Each side should follow the rules agreed upon. Every year, representative of one side will be the leader. This small commission will regulate the use of water. We have addressed major problems in this sphere. On our side agriculture minister and deputy prime minister will be responsible for the commission. They will register water use and give recommendations.

Issues of border trading - we are ready, within 4-5 months, to open border trading posts and markets, to sell petrol and gas on international prices in accordance with our laws. This will prevent violation of laws. A petrol depot would be built in the Farab region. Gurbanmuradov [Turkmen deputy prime minister] in my administration would be responsible. We sell oil products at two places on the Afghan border; we can do the same with Uzbekistan too. Liquefied gas can also be sold in these centers. This would be mutually beneficial.

Selling of oil as contraband item happens because of [huge] difference in prices. International prices are all right for selling oil.

Our textile is of good quality and in great demand in many countries. Natural gas, if necessary, can be sold. We can sign the agreements [about these issues].

Thank you for the invitation. Success to our brotherly Uzbek people.

Islam Karimov:

Saparmurat Atayevich - I am sure our questions would be resolved when the documents are signed.

Saparmurat Niyazov:

Islam Abdulganiyevich - Implementation of agreements would improve our relations.

[Signing of agreements]

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