By Kamila Aliyeva
New York has hosted a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the five Central Asian countries where they voiced a need to boost up efforts for expanding the regional cooperation.
The Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek Foreign Ministers discussed the pressing issues of cooperation in the Central Asian region, including within the framework of international and regional organizations, and exchanged views on ways of constructively addressing existing issues.
The meeting was held in accordance with the agreement reached in Tashkent on April 7, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry reported.
Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, informed his colleagues about the main provisions of the speech of the Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.
Particular attention was paid to concrete initiatives of the Uzbek president, aimed at strengthening cooperation between the Central Asian nations.
The parties supported the initiative of Uzbekistan to hold the International High-Level Conference entitled "Central Asia: One Past and Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Prosperity", which will promote the development of joint regional solutions based on constructive dialogue, the principles of equality, mutual benefit, respect and consideration of each other's interests.
The conference will be held in Samarkand in November 2017.
The participants of the meeting confirmed their interest in joint efforts for Central Asia to become a region of stability, sustainable development and good-neighborliness. They also highlighted the usefulness of such five-sided regular meetings at various levels.
Central Asia is extending from the Caspian Sea in the west to the border of western China in the east. It is bounded on the north by Russia and on the south by Iran, Afghanistan, and China. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan.
Central Asia’s economic activity is centered on irrigated agriculture in the south and on heavy and light industry and mining in Kazakhstan.
Of the five Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan, with a population of 30.9 million, is the most populous Central Asian country.
Over the past decade, Central Asia has emerged as a vital region in the global energy market as the world’s economic center has shifted eastward.
Central Asia has long possessed large volumes of oil and natural gas, but for decades, Central Asia’s energy infrastructure remained underdeveloped due to a number of reasons.
Kazakhstan is the region’s leading oil producer and ninth-largest country in the world. Turkmenistan is the region’s main gas exporter, and exports its reserves directly to China through the Central Asia-China Gas Pipeline. Uzbekistan also supplies gas through the upgraded pipeline network.
Turkmenistan is also among the main cotton exporters of the world. The country seeks to achieve about 1.05 million cotton harvest this year.
Tajikistan is the smallest oil reserve holder in Central Asia. The country has 4.4 gigawatts (GWe) of generating capacity, about 90% of which is hydroelectric.
Now, the Central Asian seek to diversify their export destinations and are viewed as favorable investment opportunities by many Western companies.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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