President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who assumed the presidency of Uzbekistan in 2016 and secured re-election in July 2023 with an impressive majority, has become a pivotal figure in Central Asian politics. This article offers a comprehensive look at his life, political journey, and the transformative reforms that have redefined Uzbekistan during his tenure.
Early Life and Scholarly Pursuits:
Born on July 14, 1957, in the Jizzakh region of Uzbekistan into a family of medical professionals, Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s journey began with humble roots. He graduated in 1981 from the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanisation Engineers with a degree in mechanical engineering. His academic journey culminated in a Ph.D. in engineering, earning him the title of an associate professor.
A Political Ascent:
Mirziyoyev’s foray into politics commenced in 1990 when he became a deputy in the Supreme Soviet of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Over the years, he took on key roles, including serving as the mayor of Tashkent’s Mirzo-Ulugbek district in 1992, the governor of the Jizzakh region in 1996, and the mayor of the Samarkand region in 2001. Simultaneously, he was a deputy in the Oliy Majlis (Uzbekistan’s Parliament) from 1995 to 2003. His significant contributions to regional development led to his appointment as Prime Minister of Uzbekistan in 2003, a position he held on three more occasions in 2005, 2010, and 2015.
In September 2016, following the passing of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Shavkat Mirziyoyev was designated as interim president and was later elected as the nation’s president in December 2016.
The “Honour and Dignity” Reforms:
Mirziyoyev’s presidency has been marked by the ambitious “honour and dignity” reforms, which encompassed several key areas:
- Political Renewal: A steadfast commitment to infusing transparency and openness into the political system.
- Economic Modernization: The creation of a business-friendly environment, economic liberalization, and the eradication of the black market for foreign currencies.
- Rule of Law: Strengthening human rights, freedom of speech, and media freedom while upholding the rule of law.
- Social Advancements: The implementation of initiatives to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development.
- Global Engagement: A focus on building trust and fostering cooperative relations within Central Asia and on the global stage.
Economic and Social Reforms:
Mirziyoyev initiated substantial economic and social reforms, which included overhauling the tax system, implementing social projects aimed at reducing poverty, and promoting sustainability for future generations. He laid the groundwork for an open and profit-generating free-market economy, liberalized foreign exchange, and eliminated the black market for foreign currencies. These actions removed barriers to the movement of goods and people, making way for a new, more liberal economy.
Uzbekistan’s Global Engagement:
President Mirziyoyev has been instrumental in shaping Uzbekistan’s foreign policy strategy. His efforts have aimed to foster an atmosphere of trust and good-neighbourly relations in the Central Asian region, while also strengthening cooperation with international partners, including major global powers and international organizations.
Uzbekistan’s Vision for the Future:
Presently, Uzbekistan is progressing under the “New Uzbekistan 2022–2026” program, which aims to consolidate previous reforms and establish the nation as a hub for foreign investment and tourism in Central Asia. The program’s goals include economic growth, raising per capita GDP to USD 4,000, championing free-market competition, and reducing heavy-handed state regulation.
The “Uzbekistan-2030” Strategy:
The ongoing development of the “Uzbekistan-2030” Strategy builds upon earlier initiatives, with priorities that include:
- Individual Empowerment: Creating conditions for personal growth through educational reforms and poverty alleviation.
- Sustainable Economic Progress: Paving the way for enduring economic development.
- Environmental Conservation: Focusing on water conservation and environmental preservation.
- Effective Governance: Ensuring a responsive public administration and a reformed judicial system.
- A Peaceful Nation: A vision for Uzbekistan as a secure and peace-loving nation.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s presidency marks a transformative era, both within Uzbekistan and on the global stage. His steadfast commitment to reform and his vision for an empowered Uzbekistan underscore his dedication to improving the lives of Uzbek citizens and fostering sustainable regional development.