Uzbekistan's leading statesman, member of the Oliy Majlis (parliament), Senator Sodiq Safayev tells VOA that his nation and government now understand the link between freedom and development, business and justice. Safayev talked to Navbahor Imamova this week at the Uzbek Embassy in Washington, as part of the high-level delegation from Tashkent. The group held meetings in the U.S. capital as well as in New York.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: It's great to see you here in Washington, Senator Safayev.
Senator Sodiq Safayev: It's my pleasure, thank you.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Why does Uzbekistan want to be a part of such an international conversation on religious freedom? This is the second time you are participating. This is President Trump's big initiative. We saw Vice President Mike Pence speak there today. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and all of them really stressed on the fact that religious freedom is a huge factor in the U.S. foreign policy. Why does Uzbekistan want to be here for this?
Senator Sodiq Safayev: First of all, thank you very much for your interest and to for seeing me and to talk about-
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: My pleasure.
Senator Sodiq Safayev: With my pleasure and all other to address why are you to the international audience. It was not the decision of Uzbekistan to come. It was invitation to American side. Uzbekistan and we think that it's a sign of recognition. The tremendous changes, which have accrued during the past two years. For Uzbekistan international dialogue on this subject, human rights, liberties, and religious freedoms, this is very important because as any dialogue, it helps us to navigate our policy and to implement the needed actions and match international standards of this field.
Senator Sodiq Safayev: The issue of religious freedom today is perhaps one of the most important vital issue, not only for Uzbekistan but global world. Everywhere within some tension, conflicts based on religious basis.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Senator Sodiq Safayev: And I think that the respect to religious freedom, new approaches to addressing the challenges and problems associated with religious freedom is very important for stability, for economic development. It's very much binded and linked to each other. Guaranteeing religious freedom means having more profound, in-depth stability, and stability is important for domestic and international investors, and that's why I think that it was a formal given by former senator and Ambassador Sam Brownback. It's time for Uzbekistan to capitalize it's new image, it's reforming process and why our presentation of the transformation of Uzbekistan to invite more investors to come to the Uzbek capital market.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: And that's something new, you know, international religious freedom becoming a factor in this. We know that you have an ongoing conversation with former Senator Brownback, special representative on international religious freedom and his argument is religious freedom matters when it comes to investing.
Senator Sodiq Safayev: It does.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: When it comes to business, when it comes to doing business with the United States, and we know that this delegation is going to hold a big dialogue with the members of the U.S. private sector in New York next week on July 22nd. What are you expecting? What is the mission here?
Senator Sodiq Safayev: As you know, approximately half a year ago, the government of Uzbekistan set up new agency, agency for capital market development. This is absolutely new formation in our country. Its goal is to channel domestic and foreign investments into the economy, especially in regard with the domestic investment, so far it was an idle due to absence of infrastructure for bringing the money from under the pillow of the citizen to the economy. But it's creating the agency is not enough. There must be new set of laws, new institutions, public awareness, education, a boss who issuing their securities and who are participating in secondary market and that's why being here in Washington and in New York, we have had many meetings with Security Exchange Commission, with the World Bank and other institutions of United States and international one for discussing the ways and means of technical assistance to Uzbekistan in this new infrastructure.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Basically you want more technical assistance...
Senator Sodiq Safayev: Technical, no it is this part, but at the same time, we're also have an ambition to discuss with potential investors.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Long term investors.
Senator Sodiq Safayev: Investors who have an interest in exploring new, very promising market of Uzbekistan for their capitals and in New York we're going to have a special forum and already around 60 big names, American investors confirmed their participation, and we are going to present the potential and opportunity of Uzbekistan capital markets, and we hope that there will be chance for Uzbek delegates which are coming from Uzbekistan, around 30 private companies who will make a presentation of their prospects of every missions.
Navbahor Imamova, VOA: Thank you so much. I know you have to go because they're rushing you.