Charge d’Affaires a.i. Mr. Bakhtiyor Ibragimov of the Republic of Uzbekistan hosted a gala reception at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Sept. 10, 2014 to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Independence of the Republic.
It was one of the best attended National Day functions in recent months with an estimated total of 400 distinguished guests attending from all walks of life in Korean society as well as from the Diplomatic Corps and other segments of international community.
Among the Korean dignitaries in attendance were Vice Minister Moon Jae-do of Trade, Industry and Energy, former National Assemblyman Kim Yong-koo, President Chi Chang-hoon of Korean Air, Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik of CJ Group, Chairman Ki-Hank Sung of Youngone Corporation, Chairman Byeong-Eal Jeon of Daewoo International, Chairman Huh Soo-young of Lotte Chemical, Chairman Yoon-seek Kim of Shindong, President Park Choon-bae of Inha University, President Keun Namkoong of Seoul National University of Science & Technology, President Kim Jong-ik of Garam Space, and Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post.
From the international community came many foreign dignitaries and among them were mission chiefs from the Diplomatic Corps of Korea. Among them Ambassador Dato Haji Harum Ismail of Brunei Darussalam (Dean of the Diplomatic Corps) Ambassadors Hocine Sahraoui of Algeria, Albino Malungo of Angola, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Md. Enamul Kabir of Bangladesh, Natallia Jhylevich of Belarus, Guadalupe Palomeque de Taboada of Bolivia, Dato Haji Harun Ismail of Brunei Darussalam, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo of Dominican Republic, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Khalil Ismai Abdul Sahib Al-Mosawi of Iraq, Dulat Bakisher of Kazakhstan, Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi of Kuwait, Duishonkul Chotonov of Kyrgyzstan, Dato Rohana binti Ramli of Malaysia, Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman, Bill Veri of Papua New Guinea, Ceferino Adrian Valdez Peralta of Paraguay, Hernandez of the Philippines, Mohammed Bin Abdalla Obaid Al-Dohaimi of Qatar, Konstantin V. Vnukov of Russia, Tissa Wijeratne of Sri Lanka, Hernani Filomena Coelho Da Silva of Timor Leste, Myrat Mammetalyyev of Turkmenistan and Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine (and (in alphabetical order).
Following the National Anthems of the two countries, there were welcome speech by Charge d’Affaires a.i. Ibgragimov and congratulatory remarks by Vice Minister Moon Jae-do.
Speaking to the guests, Charge d’Affaires a.i. Ibragimov said:
“The President of Uzbekistan, His Excellency Islam Karimov recently said that ‘for us independence means that by taking our destiny in our own hands we have started to manage the natural resources of our country, realize our enormous material and spiritual potential, and gain a commendable place on the international arena.”
Then he said, “I would like to note with satisfaction that since our independence the Republic of Korea has always been a stalwart partner that renders consistent support in implementing large scale national projects and deep modernization of Uzbekistan’s economy and its social sphere.” (See excerpts from his speech toward the end of this Article.)
The welcome speech was followed by a congratulatory address by Vice Minister Moon who said, in part: “From an economic perspective, Uzbekistan has achieved tremendous success. And posted annual growth rates of more than 8%.
“Last year, President Park Geun-Hye announced the Eurasia Initiative, a concept to develop Eurasia by connecting all countries in the region as a single continent.
Cooperation with Uzbekistan is crucial to realizing this goal because it is one of the most important countries in Central Asia.” (See excerpts from the speech of Vice Minister Moon at the end of this Article.)
Following the speeches, traditional Uzbek music was presented by an Uzbek musician who played a unique Uzbek violin. He attracted a considerable attention from the guests for the exotic melody as well as the unique sound of the Uzbek musical instrument.
At one side of the ballroom were a few tables on which were placed traditional Uzbek foods, including a lamb in whole on a large square metal tray put on a spread of rice and other grains and nuts.
Guest attendance at the National Day celebration receptions hosted by different countries was normally around 200 to 300. In a sharp contrast, there came an estimated 400 guests came literally filling the reception hall to the brim. The Charge d’Affaires a.i. of Uzbekistan spoke the Korean language almost impeccably and this has obviously won him many Korean friends in the government, business world and various other segments of Korean society.
Excerpts from the speech of Charge d’Affaires a.i. Ibragmov of Uzbekistan:
Let me, first and foremost, extend my sincere appreciation to all guests for joining us today in celebration one of the most cherished holidays of the people of Uzbekistan ? Independence Day. This year we are celebrating its 23rd Anniversary.
From the outset of opening a new era in our country we have been fully aware of the fact that the attainment of genuine freedom and sovereignty is not merely gaining independence, but also it is the consolidation of political and economic foundation of the state and gaining respect and a decent standing among the world community.
The President of Uzbekistan, His Excellency Islam Karimov recently said that “for us independence means that by taking our destiny in our own hands we've started to manage the natural resources of our country, realize our enormous material and spiritual potential, and gain a commendable place on the international arena”. (end of quote).
I would like to note with satisfaction that since our independence the Republic of Korea has always been a stalwart partner that renders consistent support in implementing large scale national projects and deep modernization of Uzbekistan’s economy and its social sphere.
Therefore, the Government of Uzbekistan is strongly committed to continue working closely with South Korea in further advancing relations of strategic partnership and widening the horizons of comprehensive cooperation. In maintaining such close collaboration an important role plays regular dialogue between the leaders of the two countries that has been one of the hallmarks of Uzbek-Korean relations. Over the past 22 years there have been 13 summit meetings between the heads of state of the two nations.
Last one took place in June of this year when the President of the Republic of Korea, Her Excellency Park Geun-hye, paid a State visit to Uzbekistan. During the meeting with President Islam Karimov a wide range of bilateral and regional issues have been thoroughly discussed and perspective areas of collaboration have been identified.
The two heads of state signed the “Joint Declaration 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 priority trade-economic and investment partners of Uzbekistan. Over the past 10 years the trade turnover between the two countries has increased 4 folds and last year exceeded $2 billions. The aggregate volume of the announced Korean investments into the economy of Uzbekistan passed $6 billions’ mark.
Such companies as Hanjin Group, GM, KOGAS, Samsung Engineering, Korean Air, Lotte Group, POSCO, Shindong Enercom, Shindong Resources and many others have been successfully operating in Uzbekistan for a number of years.
Due to the time constraint I can’t name all of them. However, I want to state that in Uzbekistan we do know about important contribution of each and every one of our Korean partners and highly appreciate their continuous efforts in promoting bilateral cooperation.
Our countries also successfully cooperate in the cultural-humanitarian field, in particular in expanding exchanges and interactions in the area of education, tourism and sport.
One of the concrete results of such collaboration is the creation in the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent City, of the Seoul Park that became another symbol of special relations between our countries. In addition, we are about to open in Uzbekistan in coming October a branch of Inha University ? Korea’s one of the reputed educational centers.
The Government of Uzbekistan fully supports President Park’s “Eurasian Initiative”. From our 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.
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 aimed at creating favorable conditions for the preservation of cultural heritage, traditions and art 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.
Summarizing my address, I would like to outline Uzbekistan’s vision for the future of relations with the Republic of Korea. Uzbekistan is interested in further advancing with South Korea the SMART RELATIONS meaning:
S ? STRATEGIC: We do have the Strategic relations because we concluded the Declaration on Strategic Partnership
M ? MULTIFACETED: We do have multifaceted relations that encompass practically all realms of bilateral cooperation.
A ? AMBITIOUS: We do have ambitious relations given the implementation of a number of large-scale investment project like the construction of Surgil Gas & Chemical Complex, etc.
R ? REALISTIC: We do have realistic relations that mean that in advancing our bilateral collaboration we always put forward realistic and achievable goals.
T ? TRANSPARENT: We do have transparent relations that mean that our cooperation with Korea is opened and transparent.
In conclusion to would to state that today the Uzbek-Korean relations have acquired in the full sense matured, meaningful character on the state and governmental levels, in cooperation between economic and commercial structures, banks, companies and firms as well as in humanitarian field and education. I strongly believe that strategic partnership between Tashkent and Seoul will be further coherently advanced in the interests of the two countries and their peoples.
Excerpts from the congratulatory speech by Vice Minister Moon:
First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to you on the twenty-third anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence day.
I am honored to be here today on behalf of the Korean government to celebrate this happy occasion. Thank you for your warm hospitality.
I visited Uzbekistan in June when I accompanied President Park Geun-Hye on her official visit. Despite the long, 7-hour flight from Seoul, the other Korean delegates and I felt at home in Tashkent.
There was the familiar sight of Daewoo cars filling the streets, and the Afrasiab mural painting showed the footsteps that our Korean ancestors left fourteen hundred years ago, when the transportation from Korea to here was much less convenient.
This year is especially meaningful in that it marks 150th anniversary of the first time Koreans moved into the Maritime province of Russia. As many as 180,000 of their descendants, called Goryeoin, are now living in Uzbekistan, making Uzbekistan the country where the largest number of Goryeoin live in the Central Asia.
I would like to take today's event as an opportunity to thank the Uzbekistani people for embracing the Goryeoin with open hearts so that they could settle down and establish their lives here.
The Goryeoin have served as a bridge between Korea and Uzbekistan, enabling the two countries to forge a strong bond of shared histories and living cultures.
It has been about 20 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two nations. Over that time, our bilateral trade volume has steadily increased, from 300 million dollars to more than 2 billion dollars last year. Korea is now one of the four largest trading partners of Uzbekistan, while Uzbekistan is Korea's largest trading partner among Central Asian countries.
We have built a relationship based on trust, as illustrated by the Surgil gas field project, Uzbekistan's largest national project in which Korean companies are taking part. Another example is the Navoi International Airport, which has been operated by a Korean company for ten years.
However, there is much more room for us to further deepen our relationship, considering the potential of our two nations and their complementary relationship.
Uzbekistan has great potential for growth thanks to its abundant natural resources and the largest population in Central Asia.
From a historical perspective, Uzbekistan has contributed to the development of mankind, producing a number of prominent figures, such as medical scientist Ibn Sina and scientist Ulugh Beg.
From an economic perspective, Uzbekistan has achieved tremendous success.
Last year, President Park Geun-Hye announced the Eurasia Initiative, a concept to develop Eurasia by connecting all countries in the region as a single continent.
Cooperation with Uzbekistan is crucial to realizing this goal because it is one of the most important countries in Central Asia.
In the past when the Silk Road was a thriving avenue of commerce, Uzbekistan played a key role as a melting pot of various cultures from East and West. I am confident that it can capitalize on this experience to reclaim its position as a key player in Eurasia.
As you may well know, Korea has its own economic development experience, which is often dubbed the Miracle on the Han River. Now, Korea wants to be a partner to Uzbekistan and actively cooperate for the economic development of both countries.
Korea can be a strong supporter of Uzbekistan's economic development. We will strengthen collaboration in such areas as automobiles and energy-related plant construction, while at the same time broadening the scope of bilateral cooperation to include new areas such as textiles, ICT, and alternative energy.
To this end, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is carrying out cooperative projects with Uzbekistan, such as constructing a textile techno-park and a photovoltaic test site.
There is a saying in Uzbekistan, "The depth of a river can be known only by crossing it. The depth of a person can be known only by spending time together."
Korea and Uzbekistan have become partners who understand each other well on the basis of what we have shared through the Silk Road. I believe it is now time for us to work together for a better future.
I want to finish by once again thanking those who worked so hard to prepare this event. I wish our two nations ever-lasting friendship and prosperity.
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