France bets on Uzbekistan to further isolate Russia

An online approach with that of the European Union also strives to consolidate its links with the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

by Philippe Jacqué (Brussels, European office) and Philippe Ricard

A lunch at the Elysée and the visit of two exhibitions: Emmanuel Macron received, Tuesday, November 22, the president of Uzbekistan, Chavkat Mirzioïev. For the Head of State, it was a question of celebrating the 30th anniversary of relations with this State of Central Asia from the Soviet Union, at the time when the war in Ukraine contributes to distending its historical links with Moscow.

For Paris, the idea is doing so to continue to isolate Russia, after more than nine months of war. “The Uzbek President comes to explore his room for maneuver, which we are going to

Help to develop, “said a diplomatic source before the visit, hoping to reduce the most populous country in the region (34 million inhabitants) somewhat. to bet on the relative openness and reform policy, led by Chavkat Mirzioïev, in power since the death, in 2016, of his predecessor, the very authoritarian Islam Karimov.

In the same order of idea, Emmanuel Macron should receive, early next week, the president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev. At the end of a year marked by bloody riots, the latter was re -elected, on Sunday, to an overwhelming majority (81 %), after having distanced himself from the war triggered by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine, by refusing to recognize the annexation by Moscow of occupied territories.

Cooperation agreements

In a joint declaration, published at the end of the visit, France and Uzbekistan have, without mentioning the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, “recalled their attachment to the resolution of conflicts by dialogue , in full respect for international law and the Charter of the United Nations “. They also “underlined the positive perspectives” open by “the modernization reforms initiated by Uzbekistan and its commitment to good neighborhood relations in Central Asia”. On the occasion of the visit, various cooperation agreements were signed on the economic level, in the field of transport, water management, tourism and energy. The Orano group was to sign a uranium extraction contract.

After their interview at the Elysée, the two leaders surveyed, accompanied by their respective wives, two exhibitions inaugurated in their presence: “Splenders of the Oases of Uzbekistan”, in the Louvre, and “on the roads of Samarcande. Wonders of silk and gold “, at the Institute of the Arab world. “I am very happy, here, in this region which can be a region of tensions, to show that it was first of all a region of exchanges and creation. And it is the will that you wear. It is to the Sides of this desire that France will work, “Emmanuel Macron told his counterpart, welcoming him with a long hug. Mr. Mirzioïev invited him to go back in return to “new Uzbekistan”.

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/Media reports cited above.