Active and pragmatic foreign policy, pursued under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, strengthens the role and authority of the country not only in the region, but also on a global scale, and increases its influence on the international process. The President of Uzbekistan outlines the most important aspects of further development of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) in the article ‘The SCO Samarkand Summit: Dialogue and Cooperation in an Interconnected World’.
The chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the SCO came at dynamic time full of variety of events and trends – a period of “historical fracture”, when one era ends, and another begins – as yet unpredictable and unknown.
The modern system of international cooperation, based on universal principles and norms, is beginning to malfunction significantly. One of the main reasons for this is a deep crisis of confidence at the global level, which, in turn, provokes geopolitical confrontation and the risk of reviving bloc thinking stereotypes. This process of mutual alienation makes it difficult for the global economy to get back on track and for global supply chains to recover.
The ongoing armed conflicts in different parts of the world destabilize trade and investment flows, exacerbate the problems of food and energy security.
Along with this, global climate shocks, the growing scarcity of natural and water resources, the decline in biodiversity, the spread of dangerous infectious diseases have exposed the vulnerability of our societies like never before. They lead to the destruction of existential common goods, threatening the basics of people’s livelihoods and undermining the sources of income.
Under these circumstances, it is clear that no country could hope to avoid or cope with these global risks and challenges alone.
There is only one way out of the dangerous spiral of problems in the interconnected world in which we live today – through a constructive dialogue and multilateral cooperation based on mutual respect and genuine consideration of each other’s interests. It is in moments of crisis that countries – large, medium, and small – must overcome their narrow interests and focus on cooperation, unite and increase common efforts and opportunities to counter the threats and challenges to peace, security and sustainable development that affect each of us.
Effective international cooperation makes the world more stable, predictable, and prosperous. This is the most real, accessible, and closest way to solve the common problems of our time and a universal policy of insurance against future challenges and shocks.
Model for Successful Regional Cooperation
International cooperation that meets the interests of all and everyone is impossible without multilateral institutions. Despite certain shortcomings, they continue to serve as the most important conductors of state-to-state interaction at the regional and global levels. International and regional organizations help countries overcome differences and strengthen mutual understanding, develop political and economic cooperation, expand trade, and promote cultural and humanitarian exchanges.
It is these goals and objectives that one of the youngest multilateral institutions, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, is pursuing. In fact, it is a unique interstate structure that has managed to unite countries with different cultural and civilizational codes, their own foreign policy guidelines, and models of national development. In a short historical period, the SCO has come a long way, becoming an integral element of the modern global political and economic world order.
Today, the SCO family is the world’s largest regional organization, which has united a vast geographical area and more than half of the population of our planet.
The key to the international legal attractiveness of the SCO is its non-bloc status, openness, non-targeting third countries or international organizations, equality, and respect for the sovereignty of all participants, refusing to interfere in internal affairs, preventing political infighting and confrontational rivalry.
The concept of the success of the SCO is the promotion of multifaceted cooperation through ensuring regional security.
In fact, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is called upon to become a pole of attraction without dividing lines for the sake of peace, cooperation and progress.
That is why the number of states willing to join the activities of the SCO is growing every year, and this is especially noticeable in the context of the transformation of the modern system of international and regional relations.
The economic value of the SCO is enhanced by the self-sufficiency of its space, where there are dynamically developing economies of the world with huge human, intellectual and technological potential, and availability of huge largely unutilized natural resources.
Today, the total GDP of the SCO member states has reached about a quarter of the global figure. This is already a very solid contribution to global sustainable development from a regional organization that has just crossed its 20-year threshold.
In a world with new challenges and opportunities, the SCO has excellent prospects for transformation and growth, not only through quantitative replenishment, but also through the opening of new strategic vectors. These are transport and connectivity, energy, food and environmental security, innovation, digital transformation and green economy.
Chairmanship of Uzbekistan: Towards Common Success through Joint Development
By taking responsible mission of chairmanship in the SCO, the Republic of Uzbekistan has relied on the strategy of accelerated development of the Organization through opening new horizons for cooperation and tapping uninvolved reserves available in each member state.
Our other slogan is “The SCO is strong if each of us is strong.” Putting it into practice, we have made serious efforts to make the Organization even stronger from inside out and more attractive externally – for our international partners.
A comprehensive agenda for the SCO has been developed at the venues of more than eighty major events held during the year -starting from the issues of further expanding cooperation in the field of security, strengthening transport and economic connectivity and positioning the Organization in the international arena up to the search for new ways and points of development.
All these promising areas of cooperation for the SCO at a new stage of its historical development are reflected in thirty-six conceptual programs, agreements and decisions prepared during our chairmanship.
I’ll say more. The chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the SCO is a logical continuation of the active and open foreign policy pursued by our country over the past six years. This policy finds its embodiment, first of all, in Central Asia, the geographical core of the SCO, where positive and irreversible processes of strengthening good neighborliness and cooperation are taking place today.
All SCO member states are our closest neighbors, friends and strategic partners.
The Chairmanship gave us a good opportunity to further strengthen multilateral collaboration and to expand bilateral cooperation with each of them, to outline new guidelines for an even deeper partnership.
I am full of confidence that the SCO is important and we should share our success story with Afghanistan. This country is an integral part of the large SCO space. The Afghan people need good neighbors and their support more than ever. Our moral obligation is to extend a helping hand, to offer them effective ways out of the long-term crisis by promoting the socio-economic growth of the country, its integration into regional and global development processes.
Afghanistan, which for centuries has played the role of a buffer in the confrontation between global powers and regional centers of power, must try on a new peaceful mission – a link between Central and South Asia.
The construction of the Trans-Afghan Corridor can become a symbol of such mutually beneficial interregional cooperation. It is also important to understand that by implementing common infrastructure projects like the Termez-Mazari-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway, we not only solve socio-economic and transport and communication problems, but also make a significant contribution to ensuring regional security.
Bringing our positions closer together, we can work out a new SCO agenda for a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Only by this way we can create a truly stable and sustainable development of the SCO space with indivisible security.
“Samarkand spirit” – the embodiment of cooperation, mutual understanding and friendship
After a three-year pandemic pause, which caused serious disruption of trade, economic and industrial ties, the countries and peoples of the SCO need direct communication.
The ancient city of Samarkand – the pearl of the Great Silk Road – is ready to meet the leaders of fourteen countries of the world with new breakthrough proposals and initiatives designed to serve the benefit and prosperity of the SCO and each of its members.
There is no doubt that this legendary city will open the next page of the SCO success story. The glorious historical heritage of Samarkand will contribute to this. For many centuries, this city, as if with threads, connected countries from Europe to China, uniting them into a single node North and South, East, and West.
Historically Samarkand was a melting pot of ideas and knowledge, in which the common goal was “cooked” – to live better, be more successful and happier. Everyone understood that friendly neighbors are half of your wealth, and you are a blessing to them, because you know that cooperation, trade, creativity, science, art and the best ideas do good, enrich and bring nations together.
These unique qualities of Samarkand, which today has a modern and dynamically developing infrastructure, make it the most suitable and a prominent platform for joint discussion, search and agreement on the right responses to regional and global challenges.
The integrity and interconnectedness of humanity is such that most challenges require work not only at the regional but at the global level.
Based on the experience of our many years of joint work, we are confident that the Samarkand SCO Summit will set an example of how to launch a new, inclusive dialogue based on the principles of mutual respect, trust, constructive cooperation for the sake of common security and prosperity.
Samarkand can become exactly the platform that can unite and reconcile states with different foreign policy priorities.
Historically, the world from Samarkand is seen as one and indivisible, not divided. In that is the essence of a unique phenomenon – the “Samarkand spirit”, on the basis of which a fundamentally new format of international cooperation, including within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, can be built.
In fact, the “Samarkand spirit” is intended to organically complement the very “Shanghai spirit”, thanks to which more than 20 years ago our countries decided to create a new organization in demand.
Therefore, we are confident that in Samarkand we will witness the emergence of a new stage in the life of the SCO – the membership of the Organization will be increased and the future agenda will be formed – and this is very symbolic.
We are full of optimism and are convinced that the decisions of the upcoming Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will make a feasible contribution to the strengthening of dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation both at the regional level and globally.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan