Staunton, December 22 – The governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have reached an agreement to introduce a common visa for foreigners who want to visit or work in either, a development that officials in the region hope will expand to other Central Asian states and that they see as an analogue to the Shengen visa in Europe fergananews.com/news/30331).
Ulugbek Kasymkhodzhayev, the deputy chairman of Uzbekistan’s state tourism agency, says that the system ought to begin to work in February. “The Silk Visa project,” he says, has been agreed by all the relevant agencies of the two countries and only “technical details” remain to be worked out (inform.kz/ru/central-noaziatskiy-variant-shengena-zarabotaet-v-sleduyuschem-godu_a3479606).
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have already expressed an interest in joining the group, he adds, noting that Tashkent plans to seek the inclusion of Azerbaijan and Turkey as well. At one level, of course, this is simply the result of Uzbekistan’s drive to expand its foreign contacts after the passing of Islam Karimov.
But on another, it promises to become the basis for more serious changes, including the expansion of contacts on the basis of the Silk Road project, the promotion of Central Asian cooperation and pan-Turkic ideas, and the further demise of the former Soviet space by the creation of yet another alternative grouping within it.
As such, it is no small thing, however minor it may appear at first glance.