An Interview with George A.Krol, the U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Uzbekistan, with the American newspaper Vatandosh.

Today, many of our compatriots observe with great interest the accelerating speed of mutually advantageous Uzbek-American relations.This phenomenon is recognized not only by politicians of both countries, but by the world community. Since the early days of the relationship,Uzbekistan and the U.S. have experiencedsignificant andconstructiveinteraction, especially in recent years,andtherefore,celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Uzbekistan is an important step toward strengthening cooperation between the two states.

New levels of high quality and mutually advantageous interchange between the two countries in the spheres ofpolitics, economics, and the humanitarian and military realm, became possible owing to the signing of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership, in March 2002, and more than sixty inter-governmental and inter-departmental agreements have laid the foundation for these relations. Among the most recent events of high importance were exchanges of personal messages between the state leaders in April 2010 and June 2011, a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Uzbekistan in December 2010, as well as meetings of the leadership of the Republic with National Security Deputy Counselor Denis McDonough, United States Senator Lindsey Graham,and the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador, Marc Grossman. The telephone conversation between the two leaders in September 28, 2011, consolidated a mutual aspiration to develop comprehensive relations between the U.S. and Uzbekistan.

The co-chair of the Caucus on Central Asia in the House of Representatives, Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega an official statement in honor of the twentieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, which is registered in the official record and will be kept in thearchivesCongress and spread among all members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Noted in this statement is that, since February 19, 1992, the day of establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, Uzbekistan has managed to achieve significant progress in the spheres of politics, the economy, and international relations and that it is on the way to democracy, while restoring its unique historical legacy and national identity. In his statement, E. Faleomavaega stressed the high level of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the U.S. in providing regional security, struggling against trans-national threats, and in deepening political and economic consultations. The Congressman stressed the U.S’ special gratitude for the assistance which Uzbekistan provided in Afghanistan, particularly by building railroads and bridges, and supplying energy at a reduced price.

Yesterday,George A. Krol, US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Uzbekistan, gave an exclusive interview to the editorial staff of Vatandosh.
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Vatandosh: Dear Mr. George A. Krol! First of all let me thank you for giving this interview in connection with the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Uzbekistan. How do you assess the significance of this historical event?

George A. Krol: Twenty years is a relatively short time in what I hope will be hundreds of years of relations between our countries and peoples. But even in this short period of time we have accomplished much in setting up a strong base for future cooperation in areas of mutual interest such as working together to promote regional stability, particularly in violence-torn Afghanistan, in combating narco business and trafficking in humans, in facilitating economic growth, prosperity, trade and the formation of a healthy and democratic society.

Vatandosh: Mr. Ambassador, the U.S. has been and remains in all respects,the most significant strategic partner for Uzbekistan. What is your view of the successes achieved in American-Uzbek relations lately?

George A. Krol: As I said, over these twenty years, we have established a solid base for further cooperation. The Declaration of Strategic Partnership that our governments signed in 2002 remains current in setting out both the principles underlying our relationship, as well as providing a blueprint for future joint efforts. We are actively fulfilling many of the tasks noted in that document. Our nations signed a science and technology agreement in 2010. Now we are looking at ways to implement that agreement. In 2009, we established a mechanism of Annual Bilateral Consultations to set forth a joint work plan and review our progress in fulfilling it. Our law enforcement and militaries are developing effective relationships with trainings and exchanges. We are closely consulting on Afghanistan. Our societies and legislatures are also engaging in exchanges, consultations and programs in culture, healthcare,and inadvancing therule of law. In 2011 we saw the opening of alarge new U.S. investment–the GM Powertrain Plant in Tashkent. We hope its success will attract more U.S. investment, trade and business,and that Uzbekistan will purchase more American products and technology. Agriculture is an area in which we are working closely together and which has great potential for greater mutual cooperation and benefit.

V: American-Uzbek relations have noticeably acceleratedin recent years. At the end of 2011,a high-level U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made an official visit to Uzbekistan. As a whole, 2011 was a very fruitful and eventful year for our two countries– more than fifty visits and meetings at different levels took place. Which of the documents signed last year do you consider to be the most important? What tasks of American diplomacy in Uzbekistan are high priority today?

G.A.K.: Ibelieve there are enough documents already signed between our governments,like the 2002 Strategic Partnership declaration mentioned, to keep us busy fulfilling them for at least another twenty years to come! But ours is a dynamic relationship. I can see the possibility of expanding existing areas, and developing new areas of mutual cooperation, such as in tourism, healthcare, education, trade promotion and governance.

V: Investment cooperation might be referred to as one of the most important positions of the American-Uzbek trade/economic partnership. Uzbekistan is interested in activelyattracting American capital to the region. What are some of the prospective spheres of economic relations, and what, in your opinion, could hamper American investment in the Uzbek economy?

G.A.K: As I mentioned earlier, I think agriculture is a very promising area of our bilateral relationship. I can see the fertile Ferghana Valley developing into the equivalent of the highly productive Central Valley of California,which feeds most of the US and exports much of its produce abroad. With technology and planning, Uzbekistan too could feed itself and the region and beyond, especially if it develops the modern infrastructure to use water efficiently, and maintain and transport its production. The U.S. has long been a leader in this area and has much to offer and much to gain. The development of Uzbekistan’s transportation systems and energy use and distribution systems would enhance Uzbekistan’s already critical position as the crossroads of Central Asia and the key link between resource-rich Central Asia and the population centers in South Asia. Both the United States and Uzbekistan can benefit greatly from our ties to and focus on Asian markets and economies in what many are starting to call the Asian Century. Transparency in business dealings, the rule of law, a reliable financial system, and convertibility are all areas which can enhance our business activities and cooperation.

V: How can American-Uzbek relations in bilateral, regional and the international field befurthered?

G. A. K: I would say, good will and trust between our governments and peoples are the most valuable resources in our relationship, and are critical to expanding , widening and deepening our bilateral and international relations. Building and maintaining those reserves of good will and trust are our highest priorities and can never be taken for granted or neglected. Strong, consistent engagement and communication, even on issues where we may disagree, is vitally important. I believe the United States and Uzbekistan share very much the same goals of developing a secure, stable, prosperous society and world system, even though we may have different views on how to achieve them. This is natural among states, even partners. We can always learn from each other if we adhere to the fundamental principles of mutual respect and understanding.

V: Dear Ambassador, the editorial staff of the New York Uzbek Vatandosh thanks you for this clear and informative interview. We would like to join you in congratulating citizens of Uzbekistan now living in the U.S., as well as American Uzbeks, on this historical event.

G. A. K.: It is a great honor to be the U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan, a country proud of its independence and its past, and looking to the future, much like my own country. I want to congratulate all of those Americans and Uzbeks here and in the U.S., andthe many alumni of exchange programs between our countries, the diplomats and soldiers, scholars and businessmen of our countries,who have done so much to establish a strong relationship between our countries. I particularly congratulate the younger generation of Americans and Uzbeks, who are working to develop even further, the ties that we and our predecessors have forged. May we celebrate many more such anniversaries with the same hope and optimismwe share today.

Mavlon Shukurzoda,
Deputy Editor of
Vatandosh.