Central Asia is a region of unique opportunities and huge unrealized potential, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev said at the international conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity” held under the auspices of the United Nations on 10-11 November in Samarkand.
Touching upon the main directions of development of cooperation of the countries of Central Asia the Uzbek President stressed that Uzbekistan was a supporter of resolving existing disagreements and strengthening mutual trust. “It is on the basis of the principles of good-neighborliness and mutually beneficial partnership that the states of the region would be able to realize their potential in trade-economic, transport-communication, cultural and humanitarian spheres as well as security and stability issues” Mirziyoyev said.
He also noted that the interests of world powers cross in Central Asia and the region is adjacent to the centers of instability and conflicts thus experiences the influence of all negative processes of the far and near abroad.
“The future of the region is formed by every state in Central Asia,” the President of Uzbekistan added. “A solid foundation and guarantor of its sustainable development is the willingness and desire for cooperation, as well as the responsibility of all the Central Asian countries for our future.”
According the Uzbek President the main goal is to turn Central Asia into a stable and economically developed region by joint efforts. “We must eliminate the roots that feed the conflict potential. We are looking for reasonable compromises in resolving issues on borders, water use, transport and trade, “he said.
The President of Uzbekistan outlined the range of tasks that must be solved today to ensure a sustainable future for the region.
First, development of trade and economic relations and creation of favorable conditions for the growth of trade and strengthening the cooperation.
“A practical step can be the creation of a regional economic forum for direct dialogue between the business community and the discussion of projects for trade, economic, investment and innovation cooperation,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev suggested. He said that since the beginning 2017 the trade turnover between Uzbekistan and the countries of the region has grown by 20%, and with some neighboring states – by 70%. The President also proposed the establishment of an association of regional governors and business communities of Central Asian states: “When we conduct direct dialogue with regions and businesses, the result is obvious. Frankly speaking, if we just not interfere, not necessarily help, the result is already more”. Referring to the UN experts’ calculations he indicated that the effective cooperation could increase regional GDP by half.
Second, it is necessary more effectively use the transport and logistics potential and ensure speedy development of the transport infrastructure in the region. The President of Uzbekistan proposed to adopt a common regional program for the development of transport communications. He also announced of the planned international conference in Tashkent in 2018 on the topic of “Central Asia in the system of international transport corridors: strategic perspectives and unrealized opportunities”.
Third, deepening practical cooperation to ensure the security and stability in the region. According to the President, all countries equally face the threats of terrorism, religious extremism, transnational crime and drug trafficking. “The effect of counteraction can be ensured when we act together,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized. – We must abandon the division of threats into “our” and “others” and need to adhere to the principle of indivisibility of security”.
Today, the prospects for the stability of development are inextricably linked to the peace in Afghanistan, the President added. “Uzbekistan will continue to participate in the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan, the development of transport and economic infrastructure and human resources,” he said.
President Mirziyoyev stressed that the phe priority direction of ensuring stability and sustainable development in Central Asia was to counteract extremist ideology, under the influence of which young people most often fall.
That is why during the recent session of the UN General Assembly in New York Uzbekistan put forward the initiative on the development of the Convention on the Rights of Youth and the adoption of a special resolution “Education and Tolerance”.
According to the President one of the most effective tool for countering extremism is education, especially educating young people, explaining them the humanistic essence of Islam and the true values of Islamic culture. “In this regard, we decided to establish the Imam Bukhari International Research Center in Samarkand and the Center for Islamic Civilization in Tashkent,” Mirziyoyev said.
Fourth, speedy and final conclusion of the process of delimitation and demarcation of state borders.
In Central Asia a prompt and final completion of the process of delimitation and demarcation of state borders is also necessary. “Having solved border problems, we will lay the foundation for expanding trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation between the countries. It is necessary to continue the harmonious, scrupulous work on solving difficult issues at the negotiations on delimitation of borders. I am confident that by taking into account mutual interests, on the basis of reasonable compromises and equivalent exchange, we will be able to resolve this important problem,” the President said.
Fifth, prompt settlement of the problems of equitable water use in the region. Uzbekistan maintains it necessary to build on the international legal framework that would take into account the interests of all countries in the region.
“Uzbekistan will support the UN draft Convention on the use of water resources in the basins of the Amudarya and Syrdarya rivers. Combining efforts also requires solving the problems of the Aral sea catastrophe. This is not only a common pain, but also a common task – without consolidation, we cannot come up with an adequate response to the challenges,” the President stressed.
Sixth, strengthening cultural and humanitarian ties, relations of friendship and good-neighborliness. “We support the continuation of the active cultural and humanitarian dialogue, the regular holding of cultural days of countries, creative events, the development of educational and tourist exchange,” the head of state said. People’s diplomacy, simple human communication is a way to strengthen mutual understanding and stability, he added.
“The implementation of these tasks could be facilitated by the organization of regular consultation meetings of the heads of state of Central Asia. We proceed from the understanding that today in the region there is a real need for joint search for solutions to region-wide problems,” the President said.
He concluded: “We consider it important to appeal to the UN General Assembly to adopt on the results of this event a special resolution on strengthening regional and international cooperation for ensuring peace, security and sustainable economic development in the Central Asian region.”
The International conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity” held under the auspices of the United Nations on 10-11 November in Samarkand were attended more than 500 hundred international and local participants. Among participants – ministers of foreign affairs of the states of Central Asian and other states, heads of United Nations, European Union, OSCE, SCO, CIS, EBRD, representatives of diplomatic corps, experts and Mass Media.
The official delegation of India to the conference was headed by Minister of State for External Affairs V.K.Singh. Besides the Indian experts from United Service Institution, Observer Research Foundation, Center for Russian and Central Asian studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University also participated in the conference.
Specific areas of enhancing regional cooperation in political, trade-economic, investment, transport-communication, water-energy, environmental and cultural-humanitarian spheres, as well as issues of joint fight against modern threats and challenges were discussed at the forum.