United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Nukus, Uzbekistan, on Sunday morning, 4 April, on the third stop of his week-long visit to Central Asia.
The Secretary-General, with Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, flew over the Aral Sea and visited Muynak, a former port city. Speaking to reporters upon his return, he said that this was clearly one of the worst environmental disasters of the world. “I could see only a cemetery of ships marooned in the sand. It was shocking,” he added. The Secretary-General noted that solutions could be found among the leaders of the regions, and he urged all of them “to sit down together and try to find solutions”.
Later, the Secretary-General left Nukus for Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. That night, he attended a dinner hosted by President Islam Karimov.
The following morning, Monday, 5 April, the Secretary-General gave a lecture at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy. “Central Asia is central to this world -- a key player,” he told the students. He said he was delivering the same message to the five Central Asian countries, namely that they had an important place in the universal agreements that bind us as a community of nations. (See Press Release SG/SM/12828)
Noting that Uzbekistan was a young country, the Secretary-General told the students they were the future of their nation and therefore were responsible for it. “As your proud nation’s future, you know that dialogue and cooperation, justice, democracy and human rights are powerful drivers for progress,” he said.
Later that morning, the Secretary-General had an official meeting with President Karimov at the Oksaroy, the presidential residence. The Secretary-General then signed a joint declaration with the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- which Uzbekistan currently chairs.
After meeting the United Nations country team, the Secretary-General held a press conference wrapping up his visit to Uzbekistan. He said that in his discussions with the leaders of the country he had emphasized the importance of resolving problems of cooperation and competition over natural resources in ways that benefit the entire region and respect the interests of all nations. He added that Uzbekistan has an important role in ensuring peace and stability in Central Asia, including the establishment of the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone and the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism. The Secretary-General also encouraged President Karimov to take further steps to modernize the country and said that a robust civil society would contribute substantially to Uzbekistan.
The Secretary-General left Tashkent in the early afternoon for Dushanbe, Tajikistan.