Uzbekistan Celebrates 24years of Independence
On Wednesday evening the cream of Uzbek society in Israel gathered in the ballroom of Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama Hotel, together with the diplomatic community and other invited Israeli VIPs and guests. The occasion: to celebrate the 24th National Independence Day of the republic of Uzbekistan. Hosting the evening was His Excellency Oybek Eshonov, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the State of Israel, together with his charming wife, Mrs. Mohira Eshinova. The foyer to the ballroom was decorated with motifs and cultural icons of the country, so that the proper atmosphere for an ethnic evening began right away.
The ethnic motive continued with Uzbek music and an interesting giant video showing scenes of the country. The generous buffet dinner and drinks carried through, with typical foods and tastes to remind us of the Uzbek people. Some of it remarkably similar to Israeli dishes – a reminder of the large numbers of the Jewish community in Uzbekistan who have settled in Israel, and brought and shared their heritage.
Among the guests were members of cultural and artistic circles, Diplomats, business leaders, society members, the media and more. Guests included Mr. Amnon Cohen, who was born in Uzbekistan - former Israeli Cabinet Minister (five times) representing the SHAS political party - and today the Chairman of the Israel-Uzbekistan Parliamentary Friendship Association; delegates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included MM.Zvi Bar-Ner, Deputy Director General for Euro-Asia, Mrs Ofra Farhi, Head of the Economic Department in charge of Euro asia , Ambassador Shlomo Morgan from the Protocol Department who translated Minister David Azoulay's speech in English , Oren Anolik and Oded Josef.
Ambassador Eshonov was introduced by the Deputy Chief of the Mission, Mr. Murod Gulyamov. His Excellency began his address to the guests by welcoming the assembly and thanking them all for helping to celebrate the auspicious event. “It has been 24 years since Uzbekistan has proclaimed its sovereignty and entered into the new phase of historic development. Within a short period of time, our country has gone through a difficult but glorious journey.
Today we are rightfully proud of our achievements in all spheres of our society. The proof of this progress can easily be seen in the enormous changes in each family, large-scale transformation in our towns, villages and the country as a whole. … Over the last 10 years the economic growth of our country consistently exceeded 8%. Uzbekistan is ranked number five among the countries with accelerated economic development.”
The Ambassador mentioned that Israel had been one of the first countries to recognize the new Republic. He spoke of the centuries old friendship, brotherhood and harmony with the Jewish people, and added: “I would like to use this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Government of the Israel for ongoing policy in strengthening bilateral cooperation. Our countries continuously keep active political dialogue and put a special importance into strengthening trade and economic relations. In the near future Tashkent will host the next round of policy planning consultations between the Foreign Ministries of our two countries. I also look forward to the support of our initiative to organize the first session of intergovernmental commissions in the capital of Uzbekistan taking place before the first half of next year.”
His Excellency ended his address with warm greetings: “On the eve of Israeli New Year, I would like to wish good health and great success to you, and peace and prosperity to all people of Israel. Let "Rosh Hashanah" bring much joy and happiness to each family and each house in Israel.”
Israel’s Minister of Religious Services, Mr. David Azoulai, responded on behalf of the government and the people of Israel, in Hebrew, followed by a translation into English.. He thanked the hosts and the host country and extended warm congratulations on behalf of the State of Israel. “Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Uzbekistan, and since the establishment of diplomatic relations 23 years ago, we have enjoyed a friendly relationship in all fields. This friendship between Israel and Uzbekistan is based on mutual respect, shared values and a similar view of the strategic challenges we face. For this reason, we have developed cooperation in numerous areas – close political ties, economic cooperation as well as cooperation in the fields of culture and education. The two countries are partners in the fight against religious extremism and work to promote tolerance among peoples and religions.”
Mr. Azoulai added: “We cannot speak of Israel-Uzbekistan relations without mentioning the magnificent Jewish community that lived and flourished in Uzbekistan. Israel has a moral debt to the leadership of Uzbekistan for the warmth and tolerance it has shown and continues to show to the Jewish community. This is true both for the ancient Bukharan community, whose presence in Uzbekistan dates to the destruction of the First Temple, and for the Jews who fled the horrors of Nazi Germany and took refuge in Uzbekistan during WWII … and the important role the Uzbek leadership and people played in rescuing the Jews who decided to flee to Tashkent.”
The Minister concluded: “Please allow me to conclude by thanking you personally for your work to promote the relations between our countries. Please convey the respect and gratitude of the People of Israel has for the Uzbek people and leadership to President Karimov. Allow me to send the most sincere congratulations from Israel on your 24th anniversary of independence. We look forward to continued cooperation and courageous friendship between Israel and Uzbekistan”.
The two speakers welcomed Ms. Yulia Masti Moroz, also Uzbek-born and now resident in Israel, who sang the national anthems of both countries.
After dinner and the formal part of the evening, guests were entertained by a charmed performance of Uzbekistan music and dance, by a quartet of musicians and a magnificent dancer, all brought out to Israel especially for this event.
Congratulations Uzbekistan, may the country go from strength to strength.
Photos Silvia G Golan