Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of Uzbekistan since 2016 and re-elected in July 2023, holds a central role in Central Asian politics. This article presents a fresh perspective on his life, political journey, and the transformative reforms that have reshaped Uzbekistan during his presidency.
Early Life and Academic Pursuits:
Born on July 14, 1957, into a family of medical professionals in Uzbekistan’s Jizzakh region, Shavkat Mirziyoyev embarked on a path that led to a mechanical engineering degree from the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanisation Engineers in 1981. He later achieved a Ph.D. in engineering, establishing himself as an associate professor.
Ascension in Politics:
Mirziyoyev’s political journey began in 1990 when he became a deputy in the Supreme Soviet of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. Over the years, he assumed key roles, including serving as the mayor of the Mirzo-Ulugbek district of Tashkent, governor of the Jizzakh region, and mayor of the Samarkand region. Concurrently, he served as a deputy in the Oliy Majlis, the Uzbek Parliament, from 1995 to 2003. His significant contributions to regional development culminated in his appointment as Prime Minister of Uzbekistan in 2003, a role he occupied three more times in 2005, 2010, and 2015.
In September 2016, following the passing of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Shavkat Mirziyoyev was named interim president and was later elected as the nation’s president in December 2016.
The “Honour and Dignity” Reforms:
Mirziyoyev’s presidency has been characterized by the ambitious “honour and dignity” reforms, encompassing five essential areas:
- Political Renewal: A commitment to infusing transparency and openness into the political system.
- Economic Modernization: Creating a business-friendly environment, economic liberalization, and eradicating the black market for foreign currencies.
- Rule of Law: Reinforcing human rights, freedom of speech, and media freedom while upholding the rule of law.
- Social Advancements: Implementing initiatives aimed at poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
- Global Engagement: Prioritizing trust-building and cooperative relations within Central Asia and the global arena.
Economic and Social Transformation:
Mirziyoyev spearheaded substantial economic and social reforms, including an overhaul of the tax system and the implementation of social projects aimed at reducing poverty and ensuring sustainability for future generations. He paved the way for an open, profit-generating free-market economy, liberalized foreign exchange, and virtually eliminated the black market for foreign currencies. These measures removed barriers to the movement of goods and people, ushering in a new era of economic liberalism.
Uzbekistan’s Global Role:
President Mirziyoyev played a pivotal role in shaping Uzbekistan’s foreign policy strategy, aiming to foster an atmosphere of trust and good neighborly relations in the Central Asian region while enhancing cooperation with international partners, including major global powers and international organizations.
Uzbekistan’s Vision for the Future:
Currently, Uzbekistan is advancing under the “New Uzbekistan 2022–2026” program under Mirziyoyev’s leadership. This program aims to consolidate past reforms and position the nation as a prime hub for foreign investment and tourism in Central Asia. Core objectives encompass propelling economic growth, elevating per capita GDP to USD 4,000, championing free-market competition, and streamlining bureaucratic processes.
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.