The International Conference «Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities» took off on July 16 in Tashkent.
The conference, which was organized on the initiative of the President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is attended by the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Foreign Ministers of Central and South Asia, delegations of 44 countries and about 30 international organizations, the heads of authoritative research and analytical centers.
Giving a welcome speech, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has noted the historical proximity of the regions of Central and South Asia and the importance of strengthening it on the basis of mutual trust and taking into account the interests today.
Central and South Asia have interacted with each other since ancient times. New knowledge and scientific achievements, cultural and spiritual values were spread along the Great Silk Road and other routes. The peoples of both regions were within the framework of common state formations - the Bactrian and Kushan Kingdoms, the Turkic Khaganate, the States of the Ghaznavids, Temurids and Baburids.
Unfortunately, the connectivity was broken in the XIX century. Various obstacles arose and the era of cooperation was replaced by a period of confrontation and distrust.
The President of our State stressed the importance of reviving the historical ties and joining efforts in his speech.
«Today, the world has entered the era of global geopolitical transformations, which are bringing both challenges and new opportunities. In this regard, the revival of mutual ties between Central and South Asia, where about two billion people live today which is becoming even more demanded and objective process. I think that it is time to consolidate our joint efforts, based on the vast historical, scientific, spiritual and cultural heritage of our peoples, the complementarity of our economies, the availability of intellectual potential, which will be undoubtedly give a powerful synergy effect,» Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
Actually, strengthening peace and friendship, trust and good-neighborliness, expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries, building an open and constructive policy meet the common interests of all Central and South Asian States.
The President put forward the important initiatives, which were aimed at achieving these goals in his speech.
The priority importance of trade and economic cooperation was noted as well as an annual interregional forum was proposed to discuss the topical issues of expanding the economic agenda in order to deepen the co-operation and investment interaction between the countries of the two regions.
The President paid special attention to the issue of development a transport and logistics infrastructure, which will be effectively and safely connected Central Asia and South Asia. The «Termez-Mazar-I-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar» railway is intended to become a key element of the entire architecture of the connectivity of our regions, the construction project, which has already been received broad support, including from the leading international financial institutions. The construction of this railway will make it possible to fully implement the transit potential of the two regions, form the shortest route as well as significantly reduce the time and costs of cargo transportation.
It is necessary to develop concrete measures to implement the digital connectivity in the field of trade, transit and border crossing as well as to adopt a total strategy.
Ensuring the food security is becoming a topical issue all over the world. In this regard, the President proposed that a meeting of Region Agriculture Ministers would be held under the aegis of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to develop a joint program of measures.
The measures to strengthen security and stability as well as the fight against terrorism, extremism and cross-border crime were also touched on in the region.
The importance of environmental protection and the development of the «green economy» were stressed.
The views were expressed on the formation of a unified platform of tour operators for the full implementation of the tourism potential of Central and South Asia as well as further development of tourism within the framework of the World Tourism Organization in the region.
The expansion of scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges plays an important role in strengthening friendship and trust. In this regard, it was proposed to hold an international forum on the historical heritage of Central and South Asia under the auspices of UNESCO in Tashkent.
The President has paid special attention to the effective cooperation in the areas of science, technology and innovation. He stressed the importance of stimulating joint research and experience exchange programs, as well as the introduction of a simplified visa regime for scientists and researchers.
As it is well-know, the International Institute of Central Asia was opened on the eve of this conference in Tashkent. The President offered to establish an expert group on the development of regional cooperation on the basis of this Analysis center.
«The historical, cultural and civilizational community of Central and South Asia as well as the alignment interests of our countries and peoples are a solid foundation on which we can build a prosperous future». The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan said in the conclusion of the speech.
Subsequently, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addressed the conference participants with a video message.
The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Imran Khan, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell spoke about the prospects for cooperation in the region and the importance of this forum.
The work of the conference is continuing. The plenary and breakout sessions of the forum will be discussed the opportunities and initiatives, which are aimed at further strengthening regional connectivity in the trade, economic, transport, communication, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
On the outcomes of the Conference, it is planned to develop a special draft resolution, which will be submitted for consideration by the UN General Assembly.