Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum of Cooperation between The Committee on Interethnic Relations and Friendly Ties with Foreign Countries of Uzbekistan and the British-Uzbek Society

A remarkable event took place on 25th August 2020: The Embassy of Uzbekistan in the UK organised an online discussion between Mr Rustambek Kurbanov, Chairman of the Committee on Interethnic Relations and Friendly Ties with Foreign Countries under the Cabinet of Ministers (KMODS), Dr Louis Skyner, Chairman of the British-Uzbek Society (BUS) and Rosa Vercoe, BUS Communications Director.

The discussion was focused on practical directions for the development of cooperation between BUS and KMODS in the cultural and humanitarian sphere.

Rustambek Kurbanov introduced the goals and objectives of the KMODS, established in 2017 on the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as well as its activities aiming to strengthen interethnic harmony, promote interethnic tolerance, implement public diplomacy in practice and to facilitate links with more than 6 million of compatriots living abroad. KMODS expressed an interest in establishing close cooperation with the BUS in the nearest future.

In turn, Louis Skyner expressed his readiness to expand cooperation with KMODS, noting the active role of the BUS in developing cultural and people-to-people links between the two countries, in particular, in terms of regular educational and cultural events for the British public. The Society did not stop this activity even during the coronavirus pandemic, successfully transferring it to the online format.

Only since the beginning of 2020, at the initiative of the BUS, the following events had been organised with the support of the Embassy of Uzbekistan in London:  the presentation by Dr Chris Fort (Michigan University, USA) on the first published in English novel “Kecha va Kunduz” by the Uzbek poet Abdulkhamid Chulpan as well as the lecture on the first global economic network in Central Asia by Dr Miljana Radivojević (the Institute of Archaeology, University College London). The BUS members had an opportunity to enjoy the talk by Dr Paul Wordsworth (the University of Oxford) on his research on caravanserais (roadside inns) and nearby water reservoirs in Karakum desert.

BUS has also provided strong organisational and communication support in running a number of activities in the framework ‘COVID19: Solidarity with Uzbekistan’ fundraising campaign started in April 2020, that is: an online master class on cooking Uzbek pilaf by the famous Uzbek chef and restaurateur Bakhriddin Chustiy; an online lecture on ‘Savitsky Museum: Mysteries and Treasures’ by Marinika Babanazarova, Director Emeritus of Savitsky Museum in Nukus and Deputy Chairman of the Community Council of the Uzbek Ministry of Culture; a series of online master classes on traditional Uzbek dances (Andijan Polka, Dilhiroj, Lazgi and Surkhandarya Yalla) by the Uzbek professional performers, like Rashid Shadat, Shirin Jalilova, Dilorom Madraximova, Sherzod Kenjebayev,  Dilnoza Artykova, Gulyandom Quranboyeva and a doira player Otkir Maxkamov. The YOGA for WELLBEING online class was presented by Fionuala Power, a former ballerina of the Royal English Ballet. A number of these online events were held as part of the ‘Covid19: Solidarity with Uzbekistan’ fundraising action to support Uzbekistan’s efforts to combat coronavirus. The records of some of these events can be viewed on the BUS YouTube channel.

A series of regular BUS online events have been planned for this autumn: in particular, a further talk on Savitsky Museum’s Collections by Mrs Marinika Babanazarova and presentation on Uzbek Ikat by Professor Elmira Gul from the Institute of Art Studies of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan.

Louis Skyner welcomed the opportunity for active participation of KMODS in the organisation of lectures, webinars and forums by the Uzbek specialists and experts, demonstrating cultural diversity and rich history of Uzbekistan in the UK.

The discussion was concluded with the ceremony of signing the Memorandum of Cooperation between KMODS and BUS. The document provides guidelines for the joint preparation and holding of cultural and humanitarian events, national holidays and festivals, with the participation of art and cultural workers of the two countries.

In conclusion, Louis Skyner expressed his congratulations on the upcoming national holiday – the 29th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and wished the country and its people further prosperity.

We very much hope that the signing and implementation of this document will enable to bring the peoples of the two countries closer together, facilitate the mutually-beneficial cooperation and make it more regular and practical.

The British-Uzbek Society is very excited about this new stage of development and is looking forward to the new joint projects and  activities!