Christopher Allan, the new Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Uzbekistan, took up his appointment two months ago. He has already visited several Uzbek cities and has plans to strengthen the relationship between Uzbekistan and the United Kingdom.
The UK is endowed with a huge political, economic and humanitarian potential that has influence over many regional and global issues. Uzbek-British dialog is grounded in mutual understanding and constructive approaches, which will help to deepen bilateral relations in a number of areas. When the Ambassador presented his credentials to the President of Uzbekistan in December 2015, he said that he would work to strengthen ties with Uzbekistan, towards a long-term and mutually beneficial basis.
When he was appointed Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Mr. Allan said: “I am honoured to have been appointed the next British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. It will be a privilege to represent the United Kingdom in a country with such rich culture and history, and such huge potential for the future. I hope to develop further the political, economic, and cultural relationship between our two countries, with a view to enhancing our mutual prosperity and security.”
The Ambassador’s first regional visits were to Samarkand, Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya. In Samarkand, the Ambassador met the Deputy Mayor, Hayriddin Hujayorov, and the Deputy Mayor of the region, Umid Nazarov. They discussed the economic and social development of the region and work of Uzbek-British companies. In 2015, nine Uzbek-British joint ventures, created with British investment, were registered in Samarkand Region.
In Shakhrisabz, the Ambassador toured historical landmarks, including the Aksaray Palace. He learned about reconstruction efforts and preparations for major events ahead of the 680th birth anniversary of Amir Temur.
On his visit to Surkhandarya Region, the Ambassador also visited the city of Boisun and Termez where he saw historical and cultural monuments. . He also met the Deputy Mayor of the region, Abdujalil Abdukadyrov and the Deputy Mayor of Termez, Pulat Toshpulatov. The Ambassador learned about the socio-economic development of the region and investment opportunities in the region. He also met the Head of the Regional Board of Uzbekistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tura Babalov, to discuss prospects for innovative technologies in key sectors of Uzbek economy such as irrigation, the food industry and agricultural production. The Ambassador noted that improvement of trading and investment cooperation between the UK and Uzbekistan is one of his priorities.
In January, the Ambassador met officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss development of bilateral cooperation through 2016. This included a mutual desire to reinvigorate inter-parliamentary contacts and establish mutually beneficial ties between business communities. The meeting also focused on opportunities to expand cultural and humanitarian exchanges, including between Uzbek and British scientific and educational institutions.
The Ambassador spoke to a UT correspondent and outlined plans for 2016. He said that bilateral relations between the UK and Uzbekistan benefit from a strong platform that covers many areas including political, commercial, defence, security and educational. This includes engagement with the UK Ministry of Defence, a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Crime Agency, the work of the British Council, the Uzbek-British Trade and Industry Council and exchanges on regional security. There is still huge potential for developing the bilateral relationship and we are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to identify further opportunities.
“We have regular exchanges with the Government of Uzbekistan and are keen to further strengthen our cooperation with Uzbekistan’s Parliament, the Central Election Committee and the National Human Rights Centre. One example of successful cooperation is the observation of the 2014 Parliamentary and 2015 Presidential elections by eight UK observers. A delegation from the Central Election Committee also visited the UK in November 2015.
Many people in Uzbekistan will already be aware of the UK Chevening Scholarship Programme, which provides UK government funding to study towards a Master’s degree in the UK. In 2014, the number of Chevening scholarships awarded in Uzbekistan increased from two to eight. We also have the International Leaders Programme for people with proven leadership potential from public service, business, media, academia and international organizations. In late January one Uzbek delegate visited the UK and had a chance to meet with leading British businesses.
The British Embassy will continue to strengthen cooperation with Uzbekistan on developing trade, economic and investment relations by encouraging and strengthening direct contacts between Uzbek and British businesses, supporting trade missions to and from the UK and through the Uzbek-British Trade and Industry Council (UBTIC). The Embassy will explore the potential to further expand areas of cooperation in trade and investment in fields where UK's expertise and technology might be of benefit to both countries.
We will continue our successful collaboration in the area of defence through implementation of various activities both in the UK and in Uzbekistan, including visits to exchange experience, qualification enhancement seminars and Military English Language training.
The key strategic directions of the British Council partnership in Uzbekistan include: 1) National English language reform at all levels, in partnership with both Ministries of Education in Uzbekistan and leading teacher education institutions in the UK; 2) High-level Quality Assurance reform and higher education capacity building in partnership with the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education in Uzbekistan and Universities in the UK; 3) Establishing mutually beneficial research partnerships between individual researchers, institutions and service and product developers in Uzbekistan and UK; 4) Reforms of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system and developing new occupational standards in partnership with the Centre for Secondary Specialist Education in Uzbekistan and Sector Skills Council in the UK; 5) Strategic partnership and capacity building in the areas of theatre, museum development and visual arts in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Sports in Uzbekistan, arts councils, higher education institutions and companies in the UK.”
Background: Christopher Allan joined the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2000. He worked in the British Embassy in Tokyo from 2003 to 2006, and was Head of South Asia Group in the FCO from 2009 to 2010. His most recent appointment was in Addis Ababa, where he was Deputy Head of Mission from 2011 to 2014.