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European Union Strengthens Ties with Uzbekistan

19 November 2010
European Union Strengthens Ties with UzbekistanEuropean Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs (pictured) told President Islam Karimov on Monday that Piebalgs is impressed with Uzbekistan's economic and democratic reforms. Photo from Central Asia Newswire

A top European Union official told the Uzbek government this week that the EU is impressed by the country's economic and democratic progress.

European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs told Uzbek President Islam Karimov in a meeting Monday that the strides made by the Tashkent government have impressed the EU which wants to widen its cooperation with Uzbekistan.

The "path, which Uzbekistan has passed over 20 years, and what it achieved, including stable economic growth during the crisis, is impressive," the Trend news agency cited Piebalgs as saying on Tuesday.

The EU official also referred to a wide-ranging set of legislative initiatives presented by Karimov last week to the Uzbek Parliament on democratic and civil society reforms.

"I have read your report on the concept of deepening democratic reforms and the formation of civil society in Uzbekistan," he said.

He also thanked the Uzbek president for his efforts toward helping achieve peace and stability in the region.

"I would like to thank you for your wisdom demonstrated in regards to the known events in the south of Kyrgyzstan, as well as your efforts in the socioeconomic rehabilitation of Afghanistan," he added.

Before departing on his three-day, two-country trip to Central Asia, Piebalgs said Europe will support those modernization efforts.

"I will ensure that the EU is keen to support Uzbekistan's national reform agenda and modernization efforts with a renewed focus for the period 2011-2013 on socio-economic development and legal reforms," a European Commission press release on Tuesday reported Piebalgs as saying.

Tashkent recently agreed to EU support for a criminal justice reform program, while both sides will soon launch an initiative to develop the parliamentary system.

Uzbekistan is currently receiving around $100 million of EU funding for the 2007-2013 period. The financing is being used to develop key areas such as criminal justice reform, inclusive education. maternal and child health care, enhancing living standards, civil society grant programs and enhancing rural trade, business climate and business development.

Piebalgs ended his visit to Tashkent Monday and was scheduled to meet Tuesday with Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva and other top officials.

This article originally appeared at Central Asia Newswire here.

A longer and more detailed article about Pielbalgs' visit to Uzbekistan is available here.