Distinguished people of Uzbekistan, Chairman of the Senate Nigmatilla Yuldashev, Speaker of the Legislative Chamber Nuriddinjon Ismailov and members of the Supreme Assembly,
I am honored to have this chance to speak at the Legislative Chamber of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the first time for a president of the Republic of Korea.
President Mirziyoyev, in his inauguration held here in the Legislative Chamber in December 2016, stressed that the people must not serve government bodies, rather government bodies must serve the people.
He installed an online suggestions and complaint box to personally sound out public opinion. In 2017, he decisively implemented measures to liberalize the country’s foreign exchange market. Recently, parliamentary approval became required for the appointment of all Cabinet members.
I pay respect to the endeavors of President Mirziyoyev and the Supreme Assembly members who are running state affairs while honoring the will of the people.
Distinguished people of Uzbekistan,
On my way here, I imagined a day 1,500 years ago. That was the day when envoys from an ancient Korean kingdom arrived in Samarkand. It might have taken them some two months had they traveled by horse or swift-footed camel without much rest. It might have taken more than that had they encountered rain and snow while crossing mountain ranges, plateaus and deserts or had to fight against heat waves or cold snaps.
The Uzbeks must have welcomed these guests from afar 1,500 years ago as warmly as you all do today. The deep friendship and trust shared between them led the Uzbeks to depict them on the Afrosiab mural’s west wall, its most important section.
As this scene shows, Korea and Uzbekistan, although geographically far apart, have been friends exchanging envoys from the era of ancient kingdoms.
My imagination has sparked a vision of traveling by train from Seoul, Korea, across the Eurasian Continent to reach a magnificent station in Tashkent. Just as our ancient kingdoms interacted through the Silk Road, I dreamed of our two nations linked by the “Iron Silk Road” of the 21st century and prospering together.
The Korean people will be able to grow here together with the boundless development potential of Central Asia. The people of Uzbekistan, a doubly landlocked country, will be able to reach out to the Pacific, the largest ocean on earth, and share the future with Korea, the homeland of Uzbek citizens of Korean ancestry.
Connecting our two countries by rail is a new vision for prosperity that draws Central Asia and the Pacific together. It would be as if the ancient figures in the mural were brought back to life and clasp hands. Doesn’t just the thought of it make your heart leap?
Distinguished Uzbek citizens,
A proverb states that a home visited by guests will become affluent. Humanity has progressed and prospered through exchanges and communication. I believe this old saying reflects the wisdom of the Uzbek people who have gained insights into the history of human interaction.
Uzbekistan abounds in great legacies born out of exchanges between East and West. The roots of today’s cutting-edge science and technology, represented by ICT, healthcare and aerospace, date back to the distant past and touch Uzbekistan.
Methods of calculation compiled by mathematician Al-Khwarizm developed into an algorithm that bears his name and later culminated in the birth of ICT. The Canon of Medicine authored by Ibn Sina, a native of Bukhara, helped save countless lives and evolved into modern medicine. Sultan Ulugh Beg, the grandson of Amir Timur, advanced astronomy through a sophisticated observatory and accurate calculations. His “Catalogue of Stars” was the basis for calendar production during Korea’s Joseon period.
Exchanges mean innovation, that is to say prosperity. The history of Uzbekistan offers the most compelling evidence.
I am convinced that exchanges with Uzbekistan, a longtime friend of Korea, will lead to 21st-centery innovations, thereby bringing forth mutual prosperity.
Last year saw our two countries' trade reach a record high of US$2.1 billion. As evidenced by approximately 600 Korean businesses now operating in Uzbekistan, trade and investments between our two countries are steadily rising.
In the energy and infrastructure sectors alone, 91 Korean businesses are involved in 125 projects which have already been successfully completed or are currently underway, amounting to US$10.7 billion in total. Through the Global Green Growth Institute, our two countries have also begun joining forces in earnest to respond to global climate and environmental issues.
Today, my friend and brother President Mirziyoyev and I agreed to further deepen the relations between our two countries. Bilateral relations will be upgraded to a special strategic partnership, and an institutional foundation will be strengthened to promote exchanges between our two nations.
We reached agreement on jointly preparing for the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by working together in new ICT industries, including 5G, big data and artificial intelligence. We also concurred on policy exchanges in the advanced space sector, nurturing professionals together and cooperating on the establishment of a satellite direct receiving station.
In healthcare, it was agreed that the Korea-Uzbekistan Cooperation Center for Healthcare and Medical Services – to be opened on the occasion of this state visit – will play a central role in Korea's participation in Uzbekistan's healthcare and medical services reform. Cooperation in the field of e-health that features the application of 5G technologies will dramatically improve the medical care system, thereby not only protecting the health of the people but also helping develop an innovative industry.
After declaring 2017 the Year of Dialogue with People and Human Interests and 2018 the Year of Supporting Active Entrepreneurship, Innovative Ideas and Technologies, Uzbekistan has designated this year as the Year of Active Investment and Social Development. I hope Uzbekistan's vision to improve the lives of its people through communication, openness and innovation will produce even greater results through cooperation with Korea.
Distinguished people of Uzbekistan,
Uzbekistan is a country to which Korea is especially grateful. Koreans consider Uzbekistan a country defined by profound brotherly love and love for humanity. In 1937 when numerous ethnic Koreans were forced to relocate here from the Russian Far East, the people of Uzbekistan warmly embraced those unprepared to settle in a new land because of the unexpected deportation.
Even amid hardship caused by war, the people of Uzbekistan lent a helping hand to ethnic Koreans who were completely at a loss to find ways to make a living. Thanks to this help, they were able to safely make it through the winter and start life anew here in Uzbekistan.
On the strength of Uzbekistan's spirit of hashar to help each other in times of need, ethnic Koreans were also able to make contributions to Uzbek society. This is a proud chapter in history for the people of our two countries. Korea has always remained grateful.
In 1992, the year following Uzbekistan's independence, Uzbekistan and Korea established diplomatic relations. That same year, then-President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan's first president, became the first of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ 11 leaders to visit Korea.
Since then, our two countries have rapidly drawn closer to each other; Four years after the establishment of diplomatic ties, an auto assembly plant was founded in Tashkent through an Uzbek-Korean joint venture, and a textile plant that exclusively uses Uzbekistan's raw cotton was also built.
Bilateral exchanges initiated in this way have expanded to the extent that over 600 Korean businesses are now operating in such various fields as energy, automobiles, textile, logistics, information technology and finance.
From President Karimov’s visit to Korea to my current visit to Uzbekistan, our two countries’ heads of state have met as many as 16 times, and bilateral relations have developed in a way that involves close cooperation in nearly all areas, including politics, the economy, society, culture, science and technology as well as international issues.
The people of our two countries have also become closer as they gained respect for and came to understand each other’s culture.
Navruz, Uzbekistan’s biggest holiday, which heralds the start of spring, and Seollal, Korea’s biggest holiday, which marks Lunar New Year, share much in common. Citizens tidy up their houses, prepare holiday meals, put on new clothes and visit relatives, and children pay their respect to elders who, in return, wish them well.
When ethnic Koreans in Tashkent celebrate Seollal every year, their Uzbek neighbors share Korean foods, and they both enjoy each other’s culture. In places in Korea where Uzbeks have settled, neighbors celebrate Navruz together and welcome a new spring.
It is amazing that our two countries have such similar traditional cultures.
Korea has become fond of Uzbek culture through the 70,000 Uzbeks residing in Korea, and its interest in Central Asia is growing. Uzbeks learn Korean and taekwondo and enjoy Korean TV dramas and K-pop.
Sharing deep mutual understanding and favorable impressions, our two countries have developed brotherly relations that are envied by many although the history of our diplomatic ties dates back fewer than 30 years. The closer the relations between the people of our two countries become, the sooner the dream of common prosperity can be realized.
People of Uzbekistan, Chairman of the Senate Yuldashev, Speaker of the Legislative Chamber Ismailov and other members of the Supreme Assembly,
Like the proverb that says, “What protects almonds is a shell, while what protects people is a friend,” Uzbekistan, as a brother of Korea, has actively supported denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In early 2000, Uzbekistan dispatched officials to Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization projects on seven occasions in total. To support the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games’ success, it also jointly proposed the Olympic Truce Resolution for PyeongChang at the United Nations General Assembly in November 2017. I want to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation on behalf of the Korean people.
Permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula is linked to our mutual prosperity.
Uzbekistan proposed a plan to establish the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) at the U.N. General Assembly in 1993, and the CANWFZ treaty finally took effect in 2009 through persistent dialogues and efforts with surrounding nations.
The precedent of denuclearization in Central Asia provides lessons and inspiration for the Korean Government, which is striving to achieve complete denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
President Mirziyoyev is also leading the efforts to achieve regional harmony and cooperation in Central Asia. Last year, a Central Asia summit was held for the first time in nine years.
I express my respect for Uzbekistan’s efforts for peace. Last December, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to reconnect inter-Korean railroads on the Peninsula amid support and congratulations from the international community. Undoubtedly, we will be able to meet all across the Continent one day.
Uzbekistan and Korea have formed an exceptional relationship enjoyed by no other countries. We have held a special affinity for each other for a long time and engaged in bilateral exchanges based on profound understanding and friendship.
The development of Uzbekistan is equivalent to that of Korea. Korea will readily share its economic development experiences with Uzbekistan. Once more, my appreciation goes out to the people of Uzbekistan and the members of the Supreme Assembly who arranged this extraordinary occasion.
Now, exchanges between our two countries will lead to innovation and prosperity. New exchanges will enable us to etch another chapter of history on each other’s murals, and we will pass our two countries’ brotherly love onto future generations.