Tashkent, 7 June 2023 (TDI): On June 7-9, 2023, a momentous event is set to unfold as the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, embarks on an official visit to Italy. This visit holds immense significance, as it will further strengthen the historical ties between Uzbekistan and Italy that were established on March 24, 1992.
Over the course of the past 31 years, these two nations have laid a solid foundation for mutually beneficial and promising cooperation, fostering a trustworthy political dialogue through four high-level visits – two to Italy and two to Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan and Italy have successfully collaborated within various international organizations, including the UN and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and have nurtured their relationship at the interregional level through formats like “Central Asia – Italy.”
Furthermore, inter-parliamentary ties continue to flourish, with parliamentary groups operating since 2011 in the Oliy Majlis (Parliament) for cooperation with the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Italian Parliament. Additionally, the Italy-Central Asia Friendship Group operates within the Italian Parliament.
Ministries and agencies from both nations are now witnessing an upsurge in dynamic exchanges. Interdepartmental interaction takes place based on partnership plans and “road maps,” fostering an effective mechanism for regular political consultations between the foreign ministries of Uzbekistan and Italy.
In recent years, bilateral trade and economic relations between Uzbekistan and Italy have witnessed remarkable intensification. Italy, renowned for its global leadership in technology, engineering, and industry, among other sectors, holds significant interest in Uzbekistan.
Simultaneously, Uzbekistan’s ongoing economic reforms to liberalize its economy, create favorable business conditions, and encourage investment cooperation make it an increasingly promising economic partner. The mutual interest in expanding industrial cooperation and trade relations between the two nations was evident in the highly successful Uzbek-Italian business forums.
The bilateral legal framework, encompassing crucial agreements in the economic sphere, provides a solid basis for further collaboration with new documents under development.
Notably, the Uzbek-Italian Intergovernmental Working Group on Trade, Economic and Industrial Cooperation and Export Credits, along with the Italian-Uzbek Chamber of Commerce, have been functioning effectively.
Furthermore, the opening of a branch of the Association of Italian Industry “Confindustria” in Uzbekistan in October 2020, and the establishment of productive relationships with organizations such as “SACE,” “SIMEST,” “Cassa Depositi e Prestiti,” “ICE,” “AICE,” “Unioncamere,” and other industry and regional associations, showcase the thriving economic ties.
Trade volume between Italy and Uzbekistan reached $381 million in 2022, and by January-April of the following year, it had already exceeded $155 million. Currently, 54 Italian companies are successfully operating in Uzbekistan, including industry leaders such as Danieli, Pietro Fiorentini, Terranova, and Opera Srl. Collaborative projects in energy, metallurgy, building materials, horticulture, healthcare, and hygiene are being actively pursued.
Federico Grandesso, a renowned expert in Italy, highlights the growing geopolitical position of Uzbekistan in Central Asia, making it an increasingly vital reference point for Europe. As one of the first countries to establish ties with Uzbekistan, Italy should seize the significant progress made in the region.
The forthcoming privatization of strategic enterprises and the abundant mineral resources in Uzbekistan offer new opportunities. Italy should take advantage of Uzbekistan’s openness to the world and closely observe emerging commercial prospects for foreign investors.
The implementation of these opportunities will require support from authorities and local investors, as private partnerships remain a priority for attracting transnational investments. By maintaining and increasing its presence in this strategically important region, Italy can embrace the Silk Road heritage and contribute to its rapid renewal.
Cultural and humanitarian cooperation plays a special role in Uzbek-Italian relations, rooted in deep historical connections. Samarkand, known as the “Rome of the East,” stood at the heart of the Great Silk Road, and roads leading to Rome passed through this beautiful city for many centuries.
The famous Venetian traveler, Marco Polo, described Bukhara as “the majestic and best city” of the region in his “Book of the Diversity of the World” (13th century). Presently, the intercultural dialogue between Uzbekistan and Italy has reached new heights, with collaborations in the fields of science, sports, art, and education.
Tashkent is now home to branches of the Turin Polytechnic University and the University of Pisa, which have been operating successfully. Joint efforts are being made to support innovation and youth entrepreneurship, with plans to launch a program to nurture youth startups in Uzbekistan.
Italy possesses extensive experience in medical tourism, while Uzbekistan has the potential to assume a leading role in medicine within Central Asia. Cooperation in the healthcare sector holds promise for both nations.
Uzbek culture and art have garnered recognition in Italy, with the film “Tohir and Zuhra” receiving a special diploma for its contribution to the development of world cinema and the promotion of universal values at the XIX International Film Festival of Asian Films “Asiatica” in Rome in 2018. The National Association of the Traditional Uzbek wrestling style, Kurash, was established in Italy in 2014.
In turn, Italian representatives have participated in the Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival in Samarkand, achieving significant accolades such as the Grand Prix in 2007, 2nd and 3rd places in 2005 and 2009, and a special prize in 2019.
Uzbekistan and Italy possess a wealth of experience and a strong foundation for further enhancing their mutually beneficial cooperation and productive dialogue. Against this backdrop, the upcoming visit of Uzbekistan’s head of state to Italy represents a crucial step toward elevating their reliable multifaceted partnership to new and greater heights.