Words MAXMILIAN WECHSLER
As it is customary in the East, the owner of the house (and in our case it is the head of the diplomatic mission) met us at the beautifully laid table. In accordance with the Uzbek tradition, there were many dishes of famous national cuisine: a delicious Uzbek pilaf, tender manti, appetizing soss, warm Uzbek bread and other delicious dishes. So, we began our conversation at the table and tried to get to know our host little closer.
“I was born in the wonderful city of Tashkent and in the first year of my life I already went on my first long-term business trip with my parents to the Republic of Guinea in western Africa. My father worked in the field of international economic relations for many years. After spending five years in Africa, our family returned to Uzbekistan. Soon after, we moved again – this time to Bulgaria and Syria, where we spent several years. This profound experience has determined the choice of my future profession in favor of international affairs.
“The next stage in my life has also prepared me for the active life abroad: I received my education at the Tashkent University of Oriental Studies, followed by the diplomatic studies in Austria, and finally, completing a master's program in South Korea.
“Even with my previous international background, each of my next assignments in Asia, Europe and America presented me with new challenges. A changing world, faced with a growing globalization as well as with instability in various regions of the world, including in my own region of Central Asia due to the ongoing war in neighboring Afghanistan, required a special training, knowledge and efforts to protect the interests of my country in the international arena.
“I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1995 and, coincidently enough, my first trip as a diplomat was to Thailand. During past years, I managed to visit many countries, meet different people, and I stayed friends with many of them to the present day.
“It goes without saying that my career as a diplomat affected my big family. I have a beautiful wife and four charming children, who, as often happens in our profession, were born in different countries – Austria, USA, Uzbekistan and Thailand. Of course, Thailand is a special place for me – my only daughter was born here on December 5, 2018.”
Coming to Thailand
“The first time I came to Thailand was in 1997 to attend a session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. After a session in Bangkok, I spent a very nice weekend in Pattaya. The country was a bit different then than it is now. Today, Thailand has completely changed – it boasts a developed economy and infrastructure, highly qualified specialists, scientists and workers who dynamically use new technologies.
“After more than 20 years, I once again had the opportunity to come here, but now as the head of the mission. The appointment to Thailand was unexpected for me, but also fascinating, because not only new direction and opportunities in my career, but also the sheer amount of new challenges that require maximum concentration, impact and, of course, establishing new contacts with representatives of the Thai government, businesses, academic and cultural institutions that would strengthen cooperation between Uzbekistan and Thailand.”
“Since the beginning of May 1992, the diplomatic relationship between Republic of Uzbekistan and Kingdom of Thailand has been developing in a productive way. There are practically no disputes between the two countries. Being on the border of Europe and Asia, we feel particularly close to the people of the Asian continent. We have a lot in common – similar mentality, culture, customs, human values, etc. This creates a good foundation for further collaboration on a wide range of issues, including tourism, economy, culture and sport.
“Uzbekistan’s diplomatic mission in Bangkok was established in April 1994 with the aim to facilitate diplomatic relations with Thailand. The Honorary Consulate of the Kingdom of Thailand is also open in Tashkent. Since then, we have been actively working with the state and public institutions, educational and cultural institutions, business community, including travel companies.
“Working with our Thai partners from travel agencies, we were able to send over one thousand tourists from Thailand in 2018. This year we plan to attract over 2,000 tourists. I would like to express my gratitude to the managers and employees of the above-mentioned firms and other companies that have worked closely with us for many years. We appreciate their trust and belief in choosing Uzbekistan as an attractive country for the Thai people.
“Uzbekistan is world famous not only for its historical heritage of Islamic civilization, but also for the monuments to other religions – Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism. We are also renowned for our hospitality and tolerance, beautiful nature, and extremely delicious national cuisine.
“Our main goal is to encourage and inspire as many Thai people as possible to discover Uzbekistan, spend their vacations there, start a new investment project, or expand their business by entering the Uzbek market and thus, the markets of all Central Asia states.
“Furthermore, Uzbekistan can serve as a gateway and entry point for Thai products to the vast market of Central Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
“Uzbekistan Airways flies from Tashkent to Bangkok four times a week. The planes are usually fully loaded as a result of the strong attractiveness of the touristic destinations of both countries. The overall number of tourists to our country has been increasing and this includes the tourists from Thailand. As mentioned earlier, there were more than thousand Thais visiting Uzbekistan in 2018.
“In addition, Thailand is among those countries that have been granted a simplified visa procedure to visit Uzbekistan. The process is timely and beneficial for the several reasons. The new chapter in the history of the independent Uzbekistan has begun two and a half years ago when President Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected. He put forward a comprehensive list of development programs for the country. The new program was named the National Action Strategy with Five Priority Development Areas 2017-2021. This includes politics, economy, security, rule of law and sustainable development. All of them caused an unprecedented interest abroad.”
“Uzbekistan imports from Thailand various chemical products, oil, paper, aluminum and plastic products and machinery. Uzbekistan exports books, seeds and fruits, as well as textiles, cotton fiber, and yarn to Thailand. Unfortunately, so far bilateral trade is not significant, but we are trying very hard to change this situation for the better.
“I believe that our countries have a great potential for expanding bilateral trade. Now Uzbekistan has created and successfully operates plants for the production of very different household appliances, processing and manufacturing of textile products, including silk. I also see a great prospect for our fruits in the Thai market, such as cherries, sweet cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and other products. By the way, now most kinds of fruits and vegetables grown in Uzbekistan are already successfully supplied to the markets of European and some Asian countries under the brand of organic products.”
“Let me describe my country briefly. Uzbekistan is a beautiful, historic Central Asian country. It has a lot to offer to people with a penchant for travel. Uzbekistan has so much natural diversity and historical beauty that it can take a single person lifetime to explore. Whether you crave a night in the vast serenity of a desert plateau or a walk through the streets of history, there’s sure to be something that tickle your fancy. Tourism in Uzbekistan is all about exploring what you’re interested in – you will be sure to find it there.
“Since ancient times, Uzbekistan has been located at the center of the Great Silk Road and was directly involved in building the universal civilization. Our country made a great contribution to the development of Islamic spirituality and enlightenment in Central Asia.
“The population of Uzbekistan is more than 33 million people. It is a multi-ethnic society with more than 100 ethnic groups. The native inhabitants are Uzbeks, who make up about 80% of the population.
“In modern policy the President Mirziyoyev is trying to change a geopolitical landscape of Central Asia by introducing the regional economic and political reforms that are ambitious in aim and extensive in scope. Having a common border with all Central Asian states, Uzbek government is interested in making the region a zone of stability, sustainable development and good-neighborliness.
“Nowadays, Uzbekistan is a modern country with clean and properly operating facilities. Communications and transportation systems are very good. The public transportation busses by Mercedes-Benz, Man, and Isuzu run regularly and on time. These busses are well maintained and periodically renewed and upgraded. The subway system in Tashkent is among the most beautiful and cleanest in the world. We are the first country in Central Asia to introduce the high-speed trains, super-modern Boeing 787-8 ‘Dreamliner’ planes that are already in service.
“Uzbekistan is also one of the safest countries in the world, as indicated in the 2017 Gallup Global Law and Order Report, which lists us as the second safest place to be. As a result of the consolidated hard work we haven’t had any kind of terrorist acts last decade and the level of violence of any type is very low in our country.
“Inspired by success of the ASEAN, today all Central Asian countries are ready for important reasonable compromises with the neighbors on all issues without exception by the constructive and mutually respectful interaction in the region. At the initiative of President Mirziyoyev, the leaders of all Central Asia countries hold annual consultative meetings, starting in 2017. There is no doubt that the new political atmosphere in the region not only serves to resolve bilateral disputes but also removes the potential for conflict from the entire Central Asian agenda, lowering the risk of interethnic clashes and contributing to increase the level of political trust among countries, as well as, creating a solid basis for further regional integration.
“At the same time, Uzbekistan has given the new impetus in development of the regional trade, economy, transport and energy sectors. After 20 years of negotiations, regional states have decided to improve the intra-regional transportation infrastructure. The significant progress has been made on the construction of the railway connecting Central Asia and China, through Kyrgyzstan, which creates an opportunity to connect Uzbekistan and China with the railway with only about 268 km in length.
“Uzbekistan boasts a rich tapestry of architectural wonders, diverse natural reserves and booming modern cities. In centuries past, Uzbekistan sat at the intersection of the great trade routes where merchants, discoverers, geographers, missionaries, invaders and conquerors passed. In the modern times, a trip to Uzbekistan is high on the agenda for the adventurous souls interested in culture, history, natural wonder and exotic destinations.
“Nowadays, traveling to Uzbekistan is one of the most popular ways to widen your horizons, see gorgeous ancient cities and become closer to the mysterious and exciting East and its marvelous culture. Why? It’s all very simple! First, tourism in Uzbekistan is affordable. Second, it’s safe. And third, Uzbekistan tourism includes so many activities and possibilities such as the special sightseeing tours, cultural tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism.
“Uzbekistan is rightfully proud of its classic architectural treasures. The Ichan-Kala complex in Khiva, and the historical centers of Bukhara, Shakhrisabz and Samarkand are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Many unique ancient monuments and constructions in these towns remain as genuine samples of a rich historical era.
“Regions like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Termez and Khiva never fail to impress visitors with their fabulous mosques, medressas and mausoleums. Meanwhile, the more eccentric attractions such as the fast disappearing Aral Sea, the fortresses of desperately remote Karakalpakstan, the boom town capital Tashkent and the ecotourism opportunities of the mountains, will cater to even the most diverse tastes.
“Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and one of the largest cities in Central Asia. An important international transport hub in both the ancient past and the present, it is directly linked to many countries of the world.
“Over the centuries, many locations in the modern-day Uzbekistan played a major role in the story of the ancient, transcontinental thoroughfare known as the Great Silk Road. But one city stands out as being ‘the Heart of Great Silk Road’. That city is Samarkand. ‘Radiant Point of Globe’, ‘Jewel of Islamic Architecture’, and ‘Mirror of the World’ are some of the glowing epithets bestowed upon Samarkand from the earliest times. A contemporary of Rome, Athens, and Babylon, the city is more than 2,750 years old.
“Bukhara, the famous trading post on the Silk Road, stirs romance in many travelers. With over 2,500 years of history and a welcoming atmosphere, Bukhara is a favorite tourist destination. More than 140 ancient monuments are located within a compact area that is best explored on foot.
“Khiva, ‘the museum in the open’, is the only town along the Great Silk Road that has remained intact through the centuries and retained the exotic flavor of a medieval town. Today Ichan Kala, the nucleus of ancient Khiva, offers visitors a stunning homogeneous collection of architecture from the late 18th century and first half of the 19th century.
“The multi-faceted history of Uzbekistan is a reflection of its geographical location, and this is particularly true in the case of Termez, the southernmost city of the country. Termez was founded on the right bank of the Amu Darya River at the crossroads of Silk Road caravan routes, and for more than 2,500 years it has retained its capacity as a major river port.
“The most ancient steps of Buddha are located in Termez, which attracts Buddhist people all over the world.
“I am confident that the similarities in values, customs and traditions between our people, as well as good interstate relations, will serve as a solid foundation for the development of tourism and interpersonal diplomacy. The simplified visa procedure for citizens of Thailand and four direct flights a week between Tashkent and Bangkok by the Uzbekistan Airways will surely prove the notion that the Thai tourists are wholeheartedly welcomed in Uzbekistan.”
CV of H.E. Aziz Aliev
· Born on February 15, 1974 in Tashkent,
· Married with four children.
· 1996: Graduated from Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies majoring in International Economy.
· 1998: Advance program at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna (Austria).
· 2001: Master degree at KDI School of Public Policy and Management (Republic of Korea) majoring in International Policy.
· 1996-1999: Attaché, 3rd Secretary of the UN and International Organizations Department, MFA.
· 2002-2005: 3rd Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Vienna (Austria).
· 2005-2009: 2nd, 1st Secretary of UN and International Organizations Department, MFA.
· 2009-2013: Counsellor, Deputy Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in New York.
· 2013-2018: Head of UN and International Structures Division, MFA.
· Since May 21, 2018: Consul General of Uzbekistan in Thailand, Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan to UN ESCAP.