While Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is focused on the upcoming snap elections on June 24, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a historic visit to Uzbekistan in early May. Uzbekistan-Turkey relations reached its zenith in the 1990s shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan became an obvious target for Turkish soft power. Since the beginning of the 2000s, however, the bilateral relationship between Ankara and Tashkent deteriorated, in part because of the isolationist policy of then-President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov and also in part because of ideological differences and the fact that exiled opposition leader Muhammad Salih resided in Turkey.
When President Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed power in Uzbekistan, hope arose for rapprochement. In February 2018, Turkey was one of the countries granted visa-free access to Uzbekistan, which has the potential to become a significant tourist destination as it is home to well-known Islamic cultural monuments like the Registan and the homeland of scholars like Imam al-Bukhari, Abu Mansur Maturidi, and Bahauddin Naqshband. Continue reading