President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Uzbekistan is of historical importance. The speeches delivered by President Erdoğan and his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev, coupled with the agreements signed at the Turkey-Uzbekistan business forum, indicate that the two countries will increase their cooperation, starting from economy to other areas, and deepen strategic partnerships in the coming years.
But first of all, I would like to talk a little about the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. It clearly reflects Uzbekistan's historical and cultural heritage as well as its characteristics. One of the country's largest cities during the Soviet period, Tashkent also maintains this characteristic in the time of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). But we must note that Uzbekistan is holding a position that exceeds its current limits. Tashkent is proving this argument already. Contrary to other CIS capitals in Central Asia, Tashkent is not a city that solely saves the "image." Instead of skyscrapers adorned with digital billboards the city has large and forested boulevards and parks.
But most importantly this image describes the new path Uzbekistan followed after independence, under Islam Karimov, who kept it closed to the outside world, albeit not as much as the Soviet period.
Uzbekistan, the central country of the new Silk Road, has not taken any radical steps to commercialize it's valuable natural resources and terrific geographical location. It does not also actively take part in the multi-polar world.
However, a new era began under its new President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who came to power in the December 2016 elections, after the passing of Uzbekistan's former leader Karimov.
Today, we think that the Mirziyoyev-era is backed by three important historical accumulations and it does not totally reject them. The first is the Soviet perspective of comprehensive development, reconstruction and modernization in each area of social and economic operation, the second is the relatively nationalist, inclusive and stable growth of the Karimov era, and finally the new era's outsourcing and development perspective, based on this comprehensive growth.
The Uzbek economy saw a steady growth of around 10 percent under Karimov. Especially between 2000 and 2010, the gross domestic product (GDP) increased steadily, doubling at the end of the decade.
This growth rate also generated an inflation rate of 7 to 8 percent annually. Of course, the biggest problem in Uzbekistan today is that its exporting industry does not have the quality or quantity to cater to its young and dynamic population. For this reason, many Uzbek citizens have to go abroad to find a job.
Despite the country having one of the world's greatest cotton production potentials, the state does not opt for exports of cotton as a raw material in order to reach this potential. There are a considerable number of incentives for industrialists to process cotton as raw material and export it as a product, including the allocation of land.
Uzbekistan is also renowned for its wealth of gold mines. It will undoubtedly use this potential in the new period to deepen its financial markets and claim a greater share of the gold trade.
If you add its position as a key country in both energy and commercial transits of the new Silk Road to the advantage of a customs union with Russia, you can estimate the growth potential of Uzbekistan and the extent of the developmental thrust in the next 10 years.
What I am saying here is that the next decade will be the period of rapidly outsourcing Asian countries, led by powerful presidential systems. In fact, these countries will determine the political and economic contours of the 21st century. The source of energy, human capital, natural resources and commerce will extend from the Pacific to Turkey. Because human capital, technology, market and natural resources are also present in this geographic axis. This new situation will lead the world's production and technology center to shift from West to East. Even the new centers of culture and ideology will emerge in the Eastern capitals along the great road from Beijing to Istanbul. We are already in the middle of this process.
Turkey will also take a definite step in that direction with the elections scheduled for June 24, 2018.
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