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Uzbekistan – HCCH Joint Event Building Bridges

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Roundtable on Democratic Transformations in Uzbekistan

By Roy Lie Atjam

On February 14, 2024, the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the Kingdom of Belgium and The Hague Conference on Private International Law jointly organized a Roundtable event titled “Building Bridges: Roundtable on Democratic Transformations in Uzbekistan” in The Hague.

The event was organised as part of the visit of an Uzbek delegation headed by Mrs Svetlana Artykova, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to the Netherlands.

The conference was held at the Permanent Bureau of the HCCH and was attended by a diverse group of individuals including politicians, parliamentarians, businesspersons, lawmakers, public servants and the representatives of media.

Mrs Svetlana Artykova, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Dr Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General of the HCCH.

Dr Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General of the HCCH, moderated and co-hosted the Round table, delivering a captivating introduction.

Dr Bernasconi briefed the audience on the outcomes of his several visits to Uzbekistan in recent years and the transformations he had witnessed during his participation as an international observer in the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019-2023, as well as the nationwide referendum last year.

The keynote speakers included Mrs Svetlana Artykova, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr Kairat Abdrakhmanov, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Mr Jahongir Abdurasulov, Member of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, Mr Ali Marossi, Managing Partner of the Hague Centre for Law and Arbitration (HCLA), Mr Gayrat Fazilov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the Kingdom of Belgium and others.

The participants of the event were informed about the key directions of the “New Uzbekistan reform strategy, the core and significance of the updated Constitution and the Uzbekistan 2030 Strategy, as well as the priorities of the multifaceted mutually beneficial cooperation with the European Union, in particular with the Netherlands.

The head of the Uzbek delegation Mrs. Svetlana Artykova in her speech paid special attention to disclosing the main directions of large-scale reforms aimed at ensuring human rights and freedoms, transparency of public administration, gender equality, development and strengthening of civil society institutions.

Roundtable on Democratic Transformations in Uzbekistan at the HCCH.

Mrs. Artykova provided a detailed overview of the legal and social transformations in the country, steps taken to establish a robust, independent judicial system, and emphasized Uzbekistan’s commitment to consistently pursue irreversible democratic reforms.

Mr. Kairat Abdrakhmanov, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, welcomed the transformational processes taking place in Uzbekistan under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and expressed confidence that they would further enhance the well-being of society and strengthen social cohesion in the country and beyond.

“Uzbekistan has created conducive environment for all and equal opportunities for the effective participation of people in public life. During my last visit to Uzbekistan, I witnessed how the commitment of the Uzbek authorities to OSCE principles and values is bringing tangible results in the area of social cohesion and diversity within the country” stressed OSCE High Commissioner.

Mr. Jakhongir Abdurasulov, Member of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in his speech elaborated on budget reforms in Uzbekistan with the active participation of the public.

The participants were particularly interested in the launch of the Open Budget project, which represents a unique experience in allocating budget funds based on the real needs of the population.

Mr. Ali Marossi, Managing Partner of The Hague Centre for Law and Arbitration (HCLA), delivered a presentation on “New Horizons: How Uzbekistan’s Legal Reforms are Shaping Business Excellence. He analysed in detail the global significance of legal reforms in Uzbekistan. It was emphasised that the country’s evolving legal framework is strategically aimed at encouraging business innovation and attracting investment, creating fertile ground for economic growth.

The speaker noted that since 2016, the President of Uzbekistan has initiated a number of large-scale judicial, economic and arbitration reforms that have fundamentally changed the business environment in the country and laid the foundation for the active attraction of foreign investment.

According to Mr. Marossi, the Law on Investments of 2020 and the Law on International Commercial Arbitration of 2021, adopted in Uzbekistan, encouraged the attraction of foreign direct investment, provided better protection for investors, strengthened the arbitration system and brought the national legislation in line with international standards.

Uzbekistan Democratic Reforms round table at HCCH in The Hague.

Ambassador Gayrat Fazilov underlined that the implementation of large-scale reforms and democratic transformations in Uzbekistan under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev contributed to the intensification of country’s ties with European countries and the EU.

The Ambassador noted that the European Union supports the good-neighbourly regional strategy of Uzbekistan and the principles of independent, open, pragmatic and peace-loving foreign policy of the New Uzbekistan.

It was noted that the EU is a priority and reliable partner of Uzbekistan in promoting irreversible reforms and strengthening state institutions and civil society. Ambassador Fazilov emphasized that the Leadership of Uzbekistan is pursuing a course of rapprochement of the country and the region with the EU in all spheres from trade, investment and transport to cultural and humanitarian ties, mobility and people-to-people contacts.

It was emphasized that in recent years the relations between Uzbekistan and the EU have acquired a special dynamic and reached an unprecedented high level. The Ambassador informed the participants on the intensive bilateral and regional exchanges at the highest and high level between Uzbekistan and the EU in recent years.

The Uzbek delegation also touched upon the agenda of the Uzbek-European cooperation, as well as expressed hope for the early signing of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Uzbekistan and the EU, and the successful holding of the first ever EU-Central Asia summit in Uzbekistan in 2024.

The Building Bridges: Round Table on Democratic Transformations in Uzbekistan has been a success.

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