Uzbekistan is Turkey’s new strategic partner – adviser

Uzbekistan has become a new strategic partner for Turkey, ending decades of mistrust, thanks to diplomatic initiatives led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Ilnur Çevik, a senior adviser to the Turkish president.

Turkey has also achieved a major breakthrough in expanding its influence in Central Asia after Uzbekistan agreed to join the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, Çevik said in an editorial for the Daily Sabah newspaper.

Erdoğan visited Uzbekistan last week, signing a series of agreements on the economy, trade and culture. The visit follows similar meetings between Erdoğan and by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Ankara last September, when the two countries agreed to establish a strategic relationship.

Turkey is seeking to expand its influence in Central Asia, the Middle East and Balkans under Erdoğan, who is following an expansionist diplomatic policy after years of relative inertia under the limits of Turkey’s NATO alliance. Erdoğan is also seeking to further political and economic ties in Africa.

The Uzbek administration was disappointed with Turkey in the 1990s and former President Islam Karimov had deep suspicions about Turkey and was reluctant to forge close ties with Ankara, Çevik said. After his death in 2016, Mirziyoyev took over as caretaker president and started a very impressive reform movement called the "Quiet Revolution" and the "Revolution from Above", he said.

Speaking in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent, Erdoğan said meetings of the Turkey-Uzbekistan High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council will be held annually, with the first to be held in Turkey.