Speech of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the meeting of the Council of Heads of the Member-States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Distinguished Heads of delegations!

Dear summit participants!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I cordially welcome you to the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

I am glad to have the opportunity to personally receive in ancient and hospitable Samarkand the leaders of the SCO member-states, the observer countries, our honored guests and the representatives of international organizations.

This majestic city, located in the heart of the Great Silk Road, has served for millennia as the center of inter-civilizational dialogue, mutual cultural and spiritual enrichment, trade and scientific exchange.

It is wonderful that despite the pandemic and the difficult situation in the world, today Samarkand has once again united the leaders of the vast expanse of Eurasia and has become the center of international politics and economics.

I would like to sincerely welcome the leaders of the states participating in our event for the first time: Mr. Shahbaz Shareef, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Serdar Berdimuhamedov, President of Turkmenistan.

Welcome to Uzbekistan!

Distinguished participants of the meeting!

During our chairmanship in the SCO, we sought to intensify practical cooperation within our Organization, to increase its potential and international prestige.

Along with security issues, the priority was given to enhancing trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation.

Numerous initiatives have been implemented in all areas of the Organization’s activities. 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. Our joint efforts are reflected in more than 40 documents, which will be adopted today.

Once again, I express gratitude to all the SCO States, as well as the Organization’s Secretariat and the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure for their active assistance to our chairmanship.

Dear participants of the summit!

As the world faces a deficit of trust and mutual understanding, confrontations and conflicts have intensified numerous challenges to stability and security.

The following problems of our time pose the serious risks to sustainable development: climate change, lack of water and natural resources, social and economic consequences of the pandemic, energy and food security crisis.

The global demand for mutual trust, justice and solidarity is growing. In this regard, it is needed to continue an open and constructive dialogue more than ever. The activity of our Organization demonstrates to the world that such a dialogue is possible.

Thanks to its firm commitment to the principles of openness and non-alignment, the SCO strengthens mutually beneficial relations among the participating countries and successfully deepens the international cooperation. The SCO membership is expanding,
as well as our partnership is developing.

A Memorandum of Obligations of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a full member of the Organization is being signed today. I sincerely congratulate the President of Iran, Mr. Ebrahim Raisi and all our colleagues on this historic event.

We welcome the signing of memorandums on granting the status of dialogue partners to the Arab Republic of Egypt and the State of Qatar.

In addition, we are making the decisions to start procedures to grant the Republic of Belarus the status of a full member of the SCO, and the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives, the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar – as dialogue partners.

The expansion of the geographical coverage of the SCO is another confirmation of the importance of our Organization, which demonstrates efficiency, mutual understanding and dynamism.

Distinguished Heads of delegations!

The SCO is entering a new, even more responsible stage of its development. We should solve many priority tasks of cooperation together.

In our opinion, first of all, it is important to continue to maintain the non-aligned status of the Organization and its openness.

We firmly adhere to the principle of the indivisibility of security. The SCO’s activities should continue to be focused on broad partnership. We are also convinced 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 «Shanghai spirit». Only in this way we can ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the SCO region.

I believe that, 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.

First of all, it is extremely important to improve the practical impact of cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and investment. This is one of the key conditions for ensuring stability in the region and improving the well-being of the population of our countries.

It is obvious that it is necessary to use the reliable models of regional interaction to achieve greater economic sustainability. It is important to move on to real actions to build the production chains among the SCO countries with a shorter «supply shoulder».

We are interested in maximizing the existing potential, taking into account the advantages of the complementarity of the economies of the SCO countries. In this regard, we propose to start forming a common space for industrial and technological cooperation
by launching a New SCO Economic Dialogue.

Its main task is to combine opportunities and activate all the mechanisms of trade and economic cooperation that we have created by eliminating trade and customs barriers, forming guaranteed and stable production and supply chains, stimulating joint programs on localization and import substitution, as well as by protecting and promoting mutual investments, primarily in the development of infrastructure, competitive industry and the services sector.

In order to ensure full-scale economic cooperation among our countries and get the concrete results of practical cooperation, we propose holding the Week of Business Partnership of the SCO regions in Uzbekistan.

For the purpose of deepening the industrial cooperation and stimulate trade, we also advocate creating an Alliance of the SCO Special Economic Zones. We are ready to hold the first meeting of heads of administrations of special zones next year, here
in Samarkand, in the premises of the “Uzbekistan–SCO” Industrial Zone.

As another measure, we propose holding a Grand SCO Trade Fair on an annual basis, with launching a single electronic platform on its basis.

This will also be facilitated by the Joint Action Plan for the Development of Intraregional Trade that we are adopting today.

I would like to draw your attention to one more important question.

We should admit that despite the fact that our countries are major producers, exporters and importers of agricultural and food products, we have not yet been able to establish serious cooperation on food security issues at the SCO platform.

The potential of our states allows us to consistently provide the domestic markets with grain crops, livestock, fruit and vegetables, basic foodstuffs, as well as the necessary fertilizers. In addition, we must contribute to solving this issue at the global level.

In this regard, we consider it necessary to develop General Principles and Approaches to Food Security. It is important to provide the specific measures in this document to bring the regulatory framework, to conduct the joint research and to introduce innovations.

In addition, the most serious attention should be paid to programs for cultivation and processing agricultural crops, formation of coordinated schemes of direct mutual deliveries, organization of efficient logistics, «green» and express corridors for the delivery of high-quality and affordable food products.

In order to widely discuss these vital issues, we propose to hold the International Conference on Food Security next year.

Dear colleagues!

Today we are adopting the SCO Concept for strengthening Connectivity and Establishing Effective Transport Corridors.

In order to practically implement the main provisions of the Concept, we propose to establish an Interregional Center for Connectivity in the city of Tashkent, with the support of the United Nations.

We also consider signing of the trilateral Agreement on the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway as a historic event as a part of the summit.

We urge you to support 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 the connectivity, increasing the mutual trade and investment, and, in general, ensuring the sustainable economic growth in the space of our Organization.

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.

The issues of the environmental agenda are particularly urgent.

Today, by adopting the joint Statement on Response to Climate Change, the SCO demonstrates solidarity in confronting these risks and challenges.

At the same time, we need the new mechanisms and formats for practical cooperation in this area, which is vital for all of us.

We propose creating an SCO Climate Council that would bring together our politicians and public figures, scientists and environmental experts, as well as the business representatives.

This format shall increase the effectiveness of cooperation in promoting the climate adaptation projects, combating desertification and land degradation, as well as introducing water– saving technologies.

It is especially in needed in the context of overcoming the devastating consequences of the Aral Sea ecological catastrophe.

An important condition for the development of the SCO is effective cooperation in the security. In the new realities it is urgent to strengthen the coordination of the activities of law enforcement agencies and special services of our countries.

The issue of increasing the effectiveness of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure on the basis of our agreements to improve its activities, including in matters of prevention and prompt response to security challenges and threats, has long been overdue.

It is important to establish the practice of annual field meetings of the Council of the SCO RATS to assess the situation in our countries and make the comprehensive decisions, taking into account today’s realities.

The growth of radicalism is becoming a dangerous trend.

We consider it expedient to take a set of effective measures to prevent the involvement of youth in the extremist organizations, to form a stable immunity to various destructive ideologies.

I would also like to draw your attention to the development of secure information and communication technologies, which already largely determine modern life.

Only by joining forces will we be able to take full advantage of digitalization, while reducing threats in the information space.

The task of creating a joint platform for combating cybercrime is becoming increasingly urgent.

Strengthening the coordination in promoting peace and the socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan should remain among the SCO’s key priorities.

I would like to especially thank my colleagues for their support of the recent Tashkent conference.

The participation of the Afghan delegation, the representatives of many states and international organizations, including the SCO, confirms the desire of the world community to develop coordinated approaches to cooperation with this country.

Let me stress that 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.

The tightening of sanctions and the further isolation of the current Afghan authorities will inevitably lead to increased radicalization within the country and its transformation into a springboard for the terrorist organizations.

In this regard, we stand for the development of constructive contacts with Kabul to fulfill the international obligations previously adopted by Afghanistan’s Interim Authorities, including in the field of women’s and children’s rights.

In addition, we propose 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 the projects in healthcare.

Distinguished summit participants!

Cultural and humanitarian ties traditionally form a solid foundation for our cooperation. Strong friendship and mutual understanding among our peoples are the key to peace and broad partnership in the SCO region.

The Comprehensive Plan for the Implementation of the Treaty on Long-term Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, which is being adopted today, is aimed precisely at these goals.

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.

I believe it necessary to establish the 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 Universiade.

I would like to note that the modern technologies also allow us to launch digital platforms for intercultural dialogue. These are virtual museums and creative exhibitions, scientific videoconferences that will help to bring our peoples together, including through the active involvement of young people in such projects.

An increase in mutual tourist flows, the implementation of joint programs and projects in tourism shall be aimed at this.

In order to intensify our cooperation in this priority area, I propose declaring next year as the Year of Tourism Development in the SCO region.

I am confident that the Agreement on Cooperation in Tourism, which is being adopted today, shall create the necessary legal basis for joint work.

Dear friends!

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.

Now such a dialogue, free from geopolitical rivalry, ideological contradictions and disputes, is extremely in demand.

Therefore, today Uzbekistan is pleased to offer 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».

We propose to jointly consider the issues of practical implementation of this initiative at the international Samarkand forum next year with the participation of political leaders, the authoritative public figures, business, academic and expert circles.

The Forum’s work shall be based on rich Program of Action, which we will soon present to all our partners. I look forward to your broad support and participation in promoting our initiative.

Dear participants of the meeting!

In conclusion of my speech, once again I express my sincere gratitude to all of you for your active assistance in achieving the goals of the 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 with the aim of ensuring regional and global security, in the name of progress and prosperity of our countries and peoples.

Thank you for your attention.

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