By Lee Kyung-sik
Publisher, The Korea Post
The Republic of Korea and the Republic of Uzbekistan have agreed to establish a House of Korean Culture and Art in Uzbekistan. This agreement was reached by President Park Geun-hye and President Islam Karimov at their summit meeting that was held during the State visit to Uzbekistan by the Korean leader on June 16-18, 2014.
Today a total of some 200,000 ethnic Koreans live in Uzbekistan who are the descendants of over 500,000 Koreans relocated to the Central Asian Region from Far East of the former Soviet Union in 1937.
I have visited Uzbekistan on several different occasions, including one at the time of it's political transition from the rule of the Soviet Union to the independent Republic of Uzbekistan under the leadership of President Karimov.
At that time, I met with a number of leaders of the Association of Ethnic Koreans in Uzbekistan, and was greatly surprised to find them living remarkably well. I told myself, “Wow, Koreans always show perseverance Wherever they are, they not only survive but also thrive.” All of them said that in Uzbekistan they have found their second motherland and loved it as their own country, Korea.
During the summit meeting with President Karimov, President Park said, “I am very delighted to visit Uzbekistan, as the country has a brilliant history at the center of the Silk Road and shows dynamic progress today.”
The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation on ongoing joint development projects, such as the construction of Ustyurt Gas Chemical Complex and the Talimarjan power plant. They also agreed to expand economic collaboration in various sectors, such as e-government, information and communications technology (ICT), environment, textiles, and infrastructure, which includes highways and railroad construction.
The Uzbek leader expressed his support for the Korean government’s Eurasia Initiative. The two countries agreed to continuously seek cooperative measures between Korea and Central Asia, the heart of the Eurasian landmass, in order to realize the Eurasia Initiative.
Seoul secured Tashkent’s support for its zero-tolerance stance against Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and for its Dresden Declaration, President Park`s proposals for a peaceful reunification of Korea made during her visit to Germany earlier this year.
As a result of the summit meeting, the two Presidents agreed to deepen and advance the strategic partnership between Korea and Uzbekistan. In addition, on the sidelines of the visit a number of agreements were signed. They include a basic agreement to provide grant-type aid, an arrangement concerning Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the years 2014 through 2017, a loan agreement between the Export-Import Bank of Korea and the National Bank of Uzbekistan, and others.
One should mention that President Park and President Karimov have great love for their own people as well as for the ethnic Koreans residing in Uzbekistan who are contributing to the development of their second homeland and playing the role of a firm bridge between the two countries for continued promotion of cooperation and friendship in all realms.
In this regard they agreed to create a House of Korean Culture and Art in Uzbekistan that is expected to greatly contribute to the promotion of relations between the two countries as well as further enhancing the pride on the part of the ethnic Koreans living in Uzbekistan. It was reflected in the Joint Declaration signed at the summit meeting that states: “The Uzbek side proposed to establish in the Republic of Uzbekistan the ‘House of Korean Culture and Art’ for the promotion of friendship between Korea and Uzbekistan and for the preservation of the national cultural heritage of the ethnic Koreans in Uzbekistan and the Korean side supported this proposal. The both sides agreed to provide the necessary support for this project.”
The Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan has contributed a following article on relations between the two countries. Here are the details:
Uzbekistan and South Korea furthering Strategic Partnership
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, South Korea has remained a stalwart partner of Uzbekistan and been rendering consistent support in implementing large-scale national projects in the country and modernization of its economy.
The intensity of close collaboration can be manifested by the fact that over the past 22 years there have been thirteen summit meetings between the leaders of the two countries. The last one took place on June 16-18, 2014 when President Park Geun-hye paid a State visit to the Republic of Uzbekistan.
“We consider the first State Visit by President Park Geun-hye to Uzbekistan as a vital political and symbolic event in the history of Uzbek-South Korean relations, as a firm aspiration of the two sides to continue with and expand the frameworks of the traditionally fruitful dialogue at the highest level, to give a new potent impetus to the consolidation of ties of friendship and strategic cooperation,” ? Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov said during the meeting with his Korean counterpart.
The two heads of state after the summit meeting signed the “Joint Declaration between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea on the further development and deepening of the strategic partnership” that defines perspectives of cooperation in political, trade-economic, investment, cultural-humanitarian areas as well as collaboration in the framework of international organizations.
Today Korea is among the most important economic and investment partners of Uzbekistan. Over the past 10 years the trade turnover between the two countries has increased 4 fold while the total volume of the announced Korean investments into the economy of Uzbekistan exceeded $6 billion.
Uzbekistan and South Korea have garnered an immense expertise in successful economic cooperation. Thus, Ustyurt Gas Chemical Complex, being built at the Surgil field, has been recognized as a megaproject at the international level given its scale. The complex being constructed with the participation of Korea Gas Corporation, Lotte Chemical and STX Corporations will reprocess annually 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas, which would allow for the production of 3.7 billion cubic meters of tank gas, 387 thousand tons of polyethylene, 83 thousand tons of polypropylene, 102 thousand tons of pyrolysis gasoline. Its successful completion in 2015 will be another important landmark in bilateral investment cooperation.
The Government of Uzbekistan is strongly committed to working closely with the South Korean administration in further advancing comprehensive cooperation. In particular, Tashkent fully supports President Park’s “Eurasia Initiative”. From Uzbekistan’s perspective, it opens a myriad of opportunities for countries of this macro-region to develop mutually beneficial collaboration as well as it positively impacts on the revival of the Great Silk Road in today’s environment. The Uzbek side shares the view of the Korean leader that “the creation of such a new Eurasia is not simply an ideal and a dream but a viable goal to achieve”.
One of the important elements of this initiative is its cultural dimension. Uzbekistan’s Government is taking concrete steps in promoting this aspect of the initiative. During President Park’s visit to Uzbekistan the foreign ministers of the two countries signed a Memorandum of understanding on creation of the House of Korean Culture and Art in Uzbekistan. The main purposes of this House are the following:
- creation of favorable conditions for the preservation of cultural heritage, traditions and art of Uzbekistan’s Korean diaspora which has become an indispensable and active part of the Uzbek society and plays an important role in strengthening bilateral relations serving as a linking element between the friendly nations of the two countries;
- expansion of cultural-humanitarian cooperation between Korea and Uzbekistan by holding various joint cultural events to introduce to each other their ancient history, magnificent culture and rich traditions;
- strengthening of traditional bonds of friendship, mutual respect, long-term cooperation and cultural enrichment of the people of the two countries.
The Korean Government has expressed its strong interest in rendering necessary assistance in creating the House of Korean Culture and Art. The Uzbek side hopes that Korean companies and other organizations will also make their own contribution to building this Center given its cultural, education and humanitarian nature. The successful creation of the House would be among initial practical steps in gradual implementation of “Eurasian Initiative” and stimulate other countries of the Eurasian region to be more actively involved in the process of bringing to fruition of President Park’s vision.
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