The mission of the EU officials consisting of Ambassador Peter Burian, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia (the EUSR), Mr Frank Hess, Deputy Head of Unit for Central Asia, Middle East, Gulf and Pacific at the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, and Mr Toivo Klaar, Head of Division for Central Asia at the European External Action Service, held talks with high level government officials. The parties discussed the EU-Uzbekistan cooperation in political, economic, development assistance and other fields at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Higher and Secondary Specialized Education, Economy, Agriculture and Water Management, and the State Committee for Investment of Uzbekistan.
During the above mentioned calls Ambassador Burian noted that the EU welcomes the ongoing reforms in the country, which create new opportunities for strengthening the country's relations both with the EU and the Central Asian states. The EU values the crucial role Uzbekistan plays in maintaining regional stability and economic development. The EU stands ready to support the recently adopted Action Strategy for the country's development for 2017-2021 and cooperation programmes between the EU and Uzbekistan, the EUSR said.
The EU officials and the Uzbek side discussed prospects of signing in the coming weeks a contract designed to fund a project titled the "Horticulture Development Programme" (EUR 21,500,000). The Government of Uzbekistan will be awarded with the grant to strengthen the horticultural research and genetic capacities, the enhancement of farmers' access to technologies, information and markets, and the improvement and alignment with international standards of the National Food Safety System. Thus, the EU contributes to the Government of Uzbekistan's efforts to modernise and diversify agriculture policy.
Also, the parties re-confirmed their intention to extend the implementation of a project titled “Management Training Programme (MTP) – Capacity Building for SME Management in Uzbekistan” funded by the EU (allocated EUR 2,787,000 for 2013-2017, and EUR 600,000 for 2017-2018). It is designed to invest in development of managerial and entrepreneurial human capital by improving appropriate skills, competences and good practices, including through short-term trainings in the EU Member States. Around 130 entrepreneurs and business experts from Uzbekistan have undergone such training for the last several years.
The EU officials visited the city of Samarkand, where they were briefed on activities of an EU-French Development Agency co-funded project (EU grant EUR 8,248,000) launched to help the local authorities to modernise municipal waste collection and disposal, as well as to improve waste recycling. The above-mentioned projects contribute to the socio-economic reforms initiated by the Government of Uzbekistan.
The EU officials had a meeting with representatives of non-governmental institutions to discuss the ongoing social, economic and political reforms in the country. Also, they had exchanges with representatives of the EU companies, the diplomatic community and international organisations on the current economic and political developments in Uzbekistan.