On September 16, the 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 the Prime Minister of the Republic of India Narendra Modi, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Japarov, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon.
The leaders of the SCO observer countries and the honorary guests of the Summit – the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, the President of Mongolia Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, the President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, as well as the heads of international and regional organizations, including the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary A. DiCarlo, the SCO Secretary-General Zhang Ming and the Director of the SCO RATS Executive Committee Ruslan Mirzayev also attended the summit.
Uzbekistan is as one of the founding countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and plays an important and active role in its activities. The Uzbekistan’s initiatives have always contributed to increasing the potential and international authority of the SCO, as well as strengthening the multilateral interaction.
The Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the SCO in 2021-2022 is distinguished by its dynamics, content, richness and focus on the results. As the President of Uzbekistan noted that despite the consequences of the pandemic and global upheavals, we have managed to fully implement the Chairmanship Plan together.
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.
The forums, conferences and other events were held on the 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 the Republic of Uzbekistan noted in his speech that «in the light of the events taking place around us, today’s summit has a special, historical significance». «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 SCO 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 until 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 the broad opportunities for strengthening connectivity, increasing the mutual trade and investment, and, in general, ensuring the 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.
A special attention was paid to the 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 President of Uzbekistan noted. The President 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 create a special Humanitarian Support Fund for Afghanistan in our border city of Termez, making use of the modern infrastructure of the international transport and logistics hub established there. The funds shall be used to overcome the social crisis in this country, to implement the 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 the new opportunities for intercultural communication and exchange to the millions of people.
Based on this, the Leader of Uzbekistan called for the establishment of additional formats as a part of the SCO, such as 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 videoconferences.
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 President noted.
In this regard, the President of Uzbekistan put forward the Samarkand Solidarity Initiative for Common Security and Prosperity to the partners. 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, еру authoritative public figures, business, academic and expert circles to jointly discuss the practical implementation of this initiative.
In conclusion of the speech, the President of Uzbekistan expressed the 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.
The leaders of the member states, observer countries, honored guests, as well as the heads of the UN and SCO also addressed the SCO meeting.