AMBASSADOR OF FRANCE TO UZBEKISTAN
Politics & Diplomacy I Leader I Uzbekistan 2023
_BIOGRAPHY She has been a diplomat since 1989 and worked as Diplomatic Advisor to the Prefect of the Brittany region, Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan and Head of the European Union Delegation to Kazakhstan. Among other positions in the French ministry of Foreign Affairs, she also worked in Brussels as NATO Deputy Secretary General and at the French Embassy in Moscow.
“UZBEKISTAN IS UNDERGOING SUBSTANTIAL ECONOMIC REFORMS SUPPORTED BY FRANCE AND THE EUROPEAN UNION.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE VISIT OF PRESIDENT MIRZIYOYEV TO PARIS?
France was among the first European countries to establish diplomatic ties with Uzbekistan in March 1992. Our countries have since developed extensive cooperation that has gained momentum since President Mirziyoyev’s accession to power and his upcoming visit to Paris, four years after his first visit in 2018, clearly shows the Uzbek government’s consideration for France and affirms the strength of our trusting relationship. Uzbekistan is one of our most important regional partners, and I am pleased to see that France is regarded as one of Uzbekistan’s two key EU partners. France supports President Mirziyoyev’s ambitious reform program launched in 2017 and recognizes the encouraging nature of its liberalization policies. In light of those reforms, as well as the solid foundation of our political ties, our bilateral relations have undeniable potential, and I am really optimistic about the next thirty years of French Uzbek relations.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO IMPROVE RELATIONS BETWEEN COUNTRIES?
Developing political ties through regular dialogue with the Uzbek authorities is one of our priorities. Our main objective is to keep nurturing the high level of political dialogue that we have developed since 2018. Supporting our companies to invest in Uzbekistan is another priority. Over 40 French companies or companies with French capital have been operating in Uzbekistan. Those include Assystem, EDF, Orano, Schiever Distribution, Servier, Suez, Thales, Total Eren, Veolia, and many others. In that regard, the establishment of a French Uzbek Business Club (CAFU) in 2017 has also been very helpful in facilitating the establishment of our companies in the country and maintaining an open and productive dialogue with the Uzbek people.
Valuable agreements have also been signed by the French Development Agency (AFD), to support Uzbekistan’s transition to a green economy, which is a central tenet of the New Uzbekistan’s development strategy for 2022-2026. We are very happy to state that AFD provides financing and technical expertise to facilitate investments of the Government of Uzbekistan in the fields of energy, irrigation, water and sanitation, and urban planning. The agency should provide 1 billion euros to finance projects in Uzbekistan for 2022-2025.
Another priority is the promotion of the French language, given that Uzbekistan is the country with the largest number of French learners and teachers in the region. We would like to have a second Alliance Française opened in one or two years’ time, in Samarkand. I am convinced that the knowledge of French will be a valuable asset in opening the country to new investors. Providing opportunities for Uzbek students to hone their linguistic skills in France’s most prestigious academic institutions is also high on our priority list. In that regard, we have been the first country to launch a joint scholarship program with the Uzbek foundation El-Yurt Umidi. An Uzbek delegation has already been invited to our second bilateral university cooperation forum in Paris which will take place at the end of November, and will also attend the annual "Campus France" meetings as a guest of honor. Uzbek civil servants also continue to benefit from French training programs at the National School of Administration, now known as INSP, which renewed its cooperation agreements with its Uzbek counterpart this year.
TRADE BETWEEN BOTH COUNTRIES IS STILL LOW BUT IT IS RAPIDLY EXPANDING. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE EMBASSY'S INITIATIVES TO INCREASE TRADE?
The trade between our two countries remains low but it is rapidly expanding. Uzbek exports to France increased significantly last year, and annual Uzbek imports from France have more than doubled since 2017, with figures for this year expected to be very encouraging. The interest of French companies in Uzbekistan is genuine, and it is reciprocated by the Uzbek authorities, who are eager to attract French investments, technologies and expertise.
The success of the MEDEF International visit to Tashkent on July 4-6 highlights our countries’ shared desire to strengthen economic ties. Many companies seem pleased with the positive evolution of the business climate and are considering broader involvement in the Uzbek economy. I would also like to underline that the Embassy has re-opened an economic service since January 2021, which emphasizes Paris’ interest in the region’s opportunities. Our goal is to rely on experienced diplomats and quality intermediaries to increase the frequency of productive meetings with our Uzbek counterparts.