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Central Asian leaders vow to make 2018 a year of development



Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev (right) and his Uzbekistani counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev exchange documents during a signing ceremony in Astana March 23. Regional leaders called 2017 a difficult but successful year. [Ilyas Omarov/AFP]

ASTANA/TASHKENT/BISHKEK -- Leaders of Central Asian countries praised last year's achievements and announced plans for 2018 in their annual addresses to their fellow citizens on New Year's Eve.

"[2017] was an eventful, dynamic and bright year," Kazakhstani President Nazarbayev said in his congratulatory address, Kazinform reported Monday (January 1).

"We were filled with excitement and delight during the Winter Universiade in Almaty," he said. "We saw the future in the pavilions of the international exhibition EXPO-2017 that lifted Kazakhstan's prestige and knowledge to a higher level."

The country "gained more global recognition and respect" in 2017, as well as improved conditions in all spheres of lives of Kazakhstani citizens, he added.

"The constitutional reform increased the role of the government and the parliament, new industrial projects were launched [and] the transitional potential and digitalisation of the country gained momentum," he noted.

"Pensions and other social payments were raised," he said. "Those are tangible achievements."

"Even though the outgoing year was not easy, on the whole it was positive," Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said December 30, according to his press office, reported "2017 ends with tangible growth and significant results in all spheres of the country’s life."

Last year "despite some problems and difficulties [became] successful for the country [of Uzbekistan] because of the self-sacrificing labour of our people", said Uzbekistani President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, UzDaily reported Monday.

"Serving people became the main life principle for us," he said.

Last year was "fruitful" in developing foreign relations, especially with neighbouring countries, he added.

"This contributes to further strengthening the situation of mutual trust, friendship and co-operation in our region," he said.

New plans for a new year

All three presidents expressed hopes for 2018.

Mirziyoyev named 2018 as the "year of supporting active entrepreneurship, innovative ideas and technologies".

The main tasks will be the strengthening of "peace and stability [and] inter-ethnic and civil harmony in the country", he said.

"I am sure that we will reach new milestones that we have determined for ourselves in 2018, all together and through selfless labour," said Mirziyoyev.

"Only through joint efforts can we achieve new heights," said Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev. "We will continue on the path of changes that will help us build prosperous Kazakhstan in the coming year."

"There are big tasks for 2018 -- together we will develop the country, strengthen stability and improve the social and economic situation of the Kyrgyz people," Jeenbekov said.

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