Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s early September visit to Kyrgyzstan exceeded expectations, as it settled a long-standing border issue and raised hopes for broader regional economic cooperation.
Mirziyoyev’s visit to Bishkek resulted in an agreement to delineate 85 percent of the two nations’ shared 1,170-kilometer border. The border issue had long been an irritant in relations.
But Mirziyoyev dangled the prospect of something potentially even more momentous when he spoke about Uzbekistan’s potential involvement in Kyrgyz hydropower projects. The late Uzbek leader Islam Karimov had steadfastly opposed such plans on the grounds that they could disrupt Tashkent’s economically important agricultural sector, especially the cotton crop.
Mirziyoyev and his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev outdid one another in professions of mutual admiration. “This day, which our peoples have been awaiting for 25 years, is a major achievement of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He calls me a friend, as do I him, and we will always be friends and brothers,” Atambayev said.
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