The following article was contributed by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
On September 16, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a Meeting of the SCO Heads of State in an expanded format.
The event was attended by Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
Leaders of the SCO observer countries and honorary guests of the summit – President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh, President of the Republic of Türkiye Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, heads of international and regional organizations, including UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary A. DiCarlo, SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming and Director of the RATS Executive Committee Ruslan Mirzayev also attended the summit.
Uzbekistan, as one of the founding countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, plays an important and active role in its activities. Uzbekistan’s initiatives have always contributed to increasing the potential and international authority of the SCO, strengthening multilateral interaction.
Uzbekistan's chairmanship in the SCO in 2021-2022 is distinguished by its dynamics, content, richness and focus on results. As the Head of the state noted, despite the consequences of the pandemic and global upheavals, together we have managed to fully implement the Chairmanship Plan.
More than 80 major events have been held. Several new formats and mechanisms of cooperation within the SCO have been launched in such areas as information and communication technologies, food security and poverty reduction.
Forums, conferences and other events were held on current issues in the economy, industry, innovation, tourism, healthcare, public diplomacy, promotion of the gender agenda and women’s entrepreneurship. As a result, a solid foundation has been laid for a significant expansion of the Organization’s activities.
The President of Uzbekistan noted in his speech that “as the world faces a deficit of trust and mutual understanding, confrontations and conflicts have intensified numerous challenges to stability and security”. The SCO is entering a new, even more responsible stage of its development. The Organization will have to solve many priority tasks of cooperation.
The Leader of Uzbekistan put forward several concrete proposals and practical initiatives on the current issues of multifaceted cooperation within the SCO.
First of all, it is important to continue to maintain the non-aligned status of the Organization and its openness, adhering to the principle of the indivisibility of security. The SCO’s activities should continue to be focused on broad partnership. It is also important that Central Asia should retain its status as the «geographical core» of the SCO.
Another key objective is to strengthen cohesion, mutual support and partnership based on the principles of the «Shanghai Spirit». Only in this way we can ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the SCO region”, the President of Uzbekistan noted.
In this regard, based on these principled approaches and taking into account the international situation, we can start preparing the SCO Development Strategy by 2040. This document should cover all areas of our multifaceted cooperation and determine the priorities for the long-term development of the SCO.
It is extremely important to improve the practical impact of cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment. In this regard, we propose to start forming a common space for industrial and technological cooperation by launching a New SCO Economic Dialogue, holding the Week of Business Partnership of the SCO regions in Uzbekistan, creating an Alliance of the SCO Special Economic Zones, holding a Grand SCO Trade Fair on an annual basis, with launching a single electronic platform on its basis.
The food crisis in the world dictates the need for active cooperation within the SCO. With this in mind, the President of Uzbekistan proposed to develop General Principles and Approaches to Food Security.
The document aims to promote the harmonization of the regulatory framework to ensure the freedom of movement of goods and services, a single digital labeling of goods and customs procedures to prevent food shortages and ensure complementarity.
In addition, it is proposed to hold the SCO International Conference on Food Security in Uzbekistan next year.
Stressing the need for strengthening transport connectivity in the SCO space, the President of Uzbekistan put forward an initiative to create an Interregional Center for Connectivity in the city of Tashkent, with the support of the United Nations.
Describing the signing of the trilateral Agreement on the construction of the China – Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan railway as a historic event at the summit, the Leader of Uzbekistan called for supporting another strategically important project – the construction of the Termez – Mazar-i-Sharif – Kabul – Peshawar railway corridor.
“Implementation of these two projects shall open up broad opportunities for strengthening connectivity, increasing mutual trade and investment, and, in general, ensuring sustainable economic growth in the space of our Organization”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev stressed. We could discuss all promising projects in the field of transport and communications at the site of the first SCO Transport Forum next year in Uzbekistan and jointly develop a Joint Action Plan based on its results.
Focusing on the growing environmental challenges and threats, the Head of the state put forward the initiative to create the SCO Climate Council. This mechanism is designed to strengthen cooperation in the field of green development, combating desertification and land degradation, attracting innovative solutions and financial resources for the implementation of projects, including in the Aral Sea region.
Special attention was paid to cooperation in security. Strengthening the coordination of the activities of law enforcement agencies and special services, increasing the effectiveness of the SCO RATS, including in matters of prevention and rapid response to security challenges and threats, were noted among the priorities in the speech of the President of Uzbekistan.
At the same time, it was proposed to take a set of effective measures to prevent the involvement of youth in extremist organizations, the form a stable immunity to various destructive ideologies.
This is especially important in conditions when the growth of radicalism in the world is becoming a dangerous trend.
“Strengthening the coordination in promoting peace and the socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan should remain among the SCO’s key priorities”, the Head of the state noted. He stressed: “The Afghan people need our good-neighborly help more than ever. We must not repeat the mistakes of the past by leaving Afghanistan alone with its problems”.
In this regard, it was proposed to jointly establish a special Humanitarian Support Fund for Afghanistan in the city of Termez, where an international transport and logistics hub has been established. The funds will be used to overcome the social crisis in this country, implement educational programs for youth and projects in healthcare.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that cultural and humanitarian ties traditionally form a solid foundation for our cooperation. Based on the principle of respect for the diversity of cultures, our Organization opens up new opportunities for intercultural communication and exchange for millions of people.
Based on this, the Leader of Uzbekistan called for the establishment of additional formats of cooperation – the Forum of University Rectors, the Days of Culture and Tourism, joint sports events and the Universiade. An initiative has also been put forward to launch digital platforms for intercultural dialogue: virtual museums, creative exhibitions, scientific conferences.
It was proposed to declare 2023 as the Year of Tourism Development to give a new impetus to cooperation in this area.
The President of Uzbekistan noted that since ancient times, Samarkand has been a center of spiritual, economic, cultural and scientific exchange among the peoples living in the space from East Asia to North Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
“Over the centuries a special culture of fruitful communication between the representatives of different civilizations has been created here. Samarkand is a living example of how the principles of tolerance and respect for the traditions and the values of different peoples, which we took as a basis when creating the SCO, have been put into practice for centuries”, the Head of the state noted.
In this regard, the President of Uzbekistan put forward the Samarkand Solidarity Initiative for Common Security and Prosperity. Its goal is to involve in the global inter-civilizational dialogue all those who care about our common future, who are ready, regardless of differences, to seek agreed approaches and solutions, who share the principles of the “Samarkand Spirit”.
To this end, the International Samarkand Forum will be held next year with the participation of political leaders, authoritative public figures, business, academic and expert circles to jointly discuss the practical implementation of this initiative.
Following his speech, the Head of the state expressed sincere gratitude for the active assistance in achieving the goals of Uzbekistan’s chairmanship. “I am confident that the documents and decisions adopted today will be a worthy contribution to the further progressive development and enhancement of the authority of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”, the President of Uzbekistan noted.
Leaders of the member states, observer countries, honored guests, as well as the heads of the UN and SCO also addressed the SCO meeting.