WHAT THE FO­RUM PAR­TIC­I­PANTS HAVE TO SAY

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION -

Vladimir Norov, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Strate­gic and Re­gional Stud­ies un­der the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan:

- The so­lu­tion of a num­ber of is­sues to en­sure the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and se­cu­rity of all states in the re­gion with­out ex­cep­tion is largely de­pen­dent on the level of mu­tual un­der­stand­ing be­tween and among the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia and the ef­fec­tive­ness of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

In this re­gard, the Pres­i­dent of our coun­try, Shavkat Mirziy­oyev, has des­ig­nated the Cen­tral Asian re­gion as the key pri­or­ity of Uzbek­istan’s for­eign pol­icy, with which vi­tal na­tional in­ter­ests are con­nected.

Tashkent’s new re­gional course has be­come a timely and ef­fec­tive re­sponse to the long-over­due re­quest for re­gional rap­proche­ment, the restora­tion of trust and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, as well as the prompt res­o­lu­tion of the ac­cu­mu­lated prob­lem­atic is­sues on the ba­sis of rea­son­able com­pro­mises and tak­ing into ac­count the in­ter­ests of all par­ties.

The in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion among the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia has rad­i­cally changed the po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere in the re­gion, lay­ing solid foun­da­tions for con­struc­tive in­ter­ac­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion of good-neigh­bor­li­ness. The adop­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion is undoubtedly an im­por­tant stage in the emer­gence of Cen­tral Asia as a con­sol­i­dated re­gion, whose states are able to jointly solve com­mon prob­lems and en­sure the well-be­ing of its multi-mil­lion pop­u­la­tion.

In this con­text, I would like to draw your at­ten­tion to the key fac­tors that de­ter­mine the unique­ness of this doc­u­ment.

First, it is the com­pre­hen­sive na­ture of the res­o­lu­tion on the ef­forts and ini­tia­tives of the Cen­tral Asian states aimed at en­sur­ing sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and se­cu­rity of the re­gion.

This is the first his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment of this kind adopted by the UN that re­flects the com­mon stance of all five Cen­tral Asian states on the prin­ci­pal is­sues of the re­gion, start­ing from en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems and those re­lated to the use of wa­ter, trans­port com­mu­ni­ca­tions and end­ing with coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism and re­li­gious ex­trem­ism.

Par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion is paid to the joint ef­forts of the Cen­tral Asian states de­signed to pro­mote the peace process and so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Afghanistan.

To­day ev­ery coun­try of Cen­tral Asia in­tro­duces new em­phases in its pol­icy in the re­gion and is ready to play an ac­tive, cre­ative role for its de­vel­op­ment.

The na­tions of the re­gion are more than ever con­cen­trated on con­sol­i­dat­ing their ef­forts to in­crease their com­pet­i­tive­ness in the world arena and bol­ster the in­ter­na­tional po­lit­i­cal pos­ture of the en­tire re­gion.

Speak­ing about the prospects for the de­vel­op­ment of Cen­tral Asia in the con­text of the adop­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion, I would also like to em­pha­size the ex­ist­ing his­tor­i­cal pre­req­ui­sites.

As the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan Shavkat Mirziy­oyev stated, “Cen­tral Asia is a sin­gle or­gan­ism that for cen­turies has had a com­mon cul­ture. His­tor­i­cal com­mu­nity, lin­guis­tic sim­i­lar­ity, the ex­is­tence of com­mon tra­di­tions and cus­toms gives us tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties to be to­gether and jointly build our com­mon fu­ture, turn Cen­tral Asia into a sta­ble, eco­nom­i­cally de­vel­oped and pros­per­ous re­gion.”

The broad and firm sup­port of the strate­gic and clos­est part­ners of the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia, as well as an au­thor­i­ta­tive in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion such as the United Na­tions, and the emerging pos­i­tive trends in the de­vel­op­ment of com­pre­hen­sive and diversified con­struc­tive re­la­tions in the re­gion de­serve spe­cial at­ten­tion.

Ow­ing to its geopo­lit­i­cal and geostrate­gic im­por­tance, the re­gion con­tin­ues to be at the cen­ter of at­ten­tion of the world com­mu­nity.

Con­sol­i­da­tion and en­hance­ment of in­ter­state co­op­er­a­tion in the re­gion is a guar­an­tee of fu­ture pros­per­ity and sta­ble de­vel­op­ment not only of Cen­tral Asia, but also of other ad­ja­cent re­gions.

The res­o­lu­tion calls on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in par­tic­u­lar the spe­cial­ized agen­cies, funds and pro­grams of the UN sys­tem, to sup­port the pri­or­ity ar­eas of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, in­te­gra­tion and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in Cen­tral Asia, as de­ter­mined by the coun­tries of the re­gion them­selves.

In gen­eral, this doc­u­ment, with­out any ex­ag­ger­a­tion, marked the en­try of Cen­tral Asian coun­tries into a new era of in­ter­state re­la­tions.

Sum­ma­riz­ing the above, it is im­por­tant to note that to date there are all the nec­es­sary con­di­tions in Cen­tral Asia for dy­namic and fruit­ful bi­lat­eral as well as mul­ti­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.

There is a huge po­ten­tial for joint de­vel­op­ment of high-tech in­dus­tries, im­prove­ment of the agro-in­dus­trial com­plex, tourism, at­tract­ing large-scale for­eign in­vest­ment in the real econ­omy.

The pres­ence of uni­fy­ing fac­tors in vir­tu­ally all vi­tal ar­eas, re­in­forced by the peo­ple’s de­sire for peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity, is a re­li­able ba­sis for fur­ther­ing the re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and over­com­ing dif­fer­ences through joint ef­forts.

To be sure, we all realize that we are only at the be­gin­ning of the road; we still have much work to do to en­sure the se­cu­rity and com­mon pros­per­ity in Cen­tral Asia.

It is nec­es­sary to pro­mote in ev­ery pos­si­ble way the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and cul­tural-hu­man­i­tar­ian ties in the spirit of open­ness, in­clu­sive­ness, mu­tual ben­e­fit and trust.

It seems es­sen­tial to fo­cus on seek­ing out new points of con­tact in the field of trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness, to pro­mote the ‘co­or­di­na­tion’ of de­vel­op­ment strate­gies of our coun­tries.

In this di­rec­tion, in our opin­ion, it is ad­vis­able for Cen­tral Asian coun­tries to de­velop a com­mon strate­gic con­cept for the medium and long term by iden­ti­fy­ing spe­cific goals and ob­jec­tives in the field of en­sur­ing re­gional sta­bil­ity, peace and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, and ways to achieve them.

Mod­ern re­al­i­ties are such that peace, well­be­ing, pros­per­ity and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion di­rectly de­pend on the abil­ity of the states of Cen­tral Asia to in­de­pen­dently address emerging is­sues.

John MacGre­gor, OSCE Project Co­or­di­na­tor in Uzbek­istan:

- It is grat­i­fy­ing that Uzbek­istan shows great ac­tiv­ity in im­prov­ing co­op­er­a­tion and con­struc­tive di­a­logue among the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia. Con­sol­i­da­tion and en­hance­ment of in­ter­state co­op­er­a­tion in the re­gion is a guar­an­tee of the well­be­ing and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of not only Cen­tral Asia, but also the neigh­bor­ing re­gions.

Alisher Kur­manov, Chair­man of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, For­eign Eco­nomic Re­la­tions, For­eign In­vest­ment and Tourism (Uzbek­istan):

- The in­sti­tu­tion of par­lia­men­tary diplo­macy has be­come an ad­di­tional in­cen­tive for boost­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. It al­lows to co­or­di­nate var­i­ous is­sues, find mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able so­lu­tions, which, in turn, fa­cil­i­tates the cre­ation of a real spirit of mu­tual un­der­stand­ing in Cen­tral Asia, and makes a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of bi­lat­eral agree­ments. Uzbek­istan is ready to fur­ther de­velop in­ter-par­lia­men­tary ties with neigh­bor­ing na­tions in the spirit of con­struc­tivism. In the era of glob­al­iza­tion, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s sup­port for re­gional ef­forts will have a tremen­dous ef­fect not only in im­prov­ing the well-be­ing of the peo­ples of Cen­tral Asia and in stim­u­lat­ing the ac­cel­er­ated im­ple­men­ta­tion of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals, but also in strength­en­ing the foun­da­tions of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

El­dor Aripov, Di­rec­tor of the In­for­ma­tion and An­a­lyt­i­cal Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions of Uzbek­istan’s Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs:

- The adop­tion of the res­o­lu­tion by the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly be­came pos­si­ble thanks to the fact that over the past two years the Cen­tral Asian states were able to jointly form a fun­da­men­tally new po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere in the re­gion in terms of po­lit­i­cal trust, in­ter­ac­tion and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing. The lead­ers of the coun­tries man­aged to make sig­nif­i­cant progress in co­or­di­nat­ing the so­lu­tion of such acute is­sues as de­lim­i­ta­tion and de­mar­ca­tion of bor­ders, wa­ter use and oth­ers. A pow­er­ful im­pe­tus was given to the de­vel­op­ment of trade and eco­nomic ties. Last year, trade with the states of the re­gion grew by 20%, and with in­di­vid­ual coun­tries – by 70%.

In­dus­trial co­op­er­a­tion is ex­pand­ing, in­ter­ac­tion in the field of trans­port com­mu­ni­ca­tions is in­ten­si­fy­ing. THus, for the first time in 20 years, air com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Dushanbe and Tashkent was opened, high-speed trains be­tween Uzbek­istan and Kaza­khstan be­gan to run. We be­gan to talk more about what unites us. There is an un­der­stand­ing of the ben­e­fits of jointly re­solv­ing com­mon is­sues on our agenda. Above all, we’ve seen the emer­gence of a per­cep­tion of Cen­tral Asia as a com­mon home.

For the first time in re­cent his­tory, the stand­ing of Cen­tral Asian na­tions has been con­sol­i­dated as ac­tors of world pol­i­tics. Ac­cord­ing to experts, this owes largely to the open and con­struc­tive for­eign pol­icy of Uzbek­istan, whose most crit­i­cal pri­or­ity to­day is to boost re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

Still, for the full-scale in­te­gra­tion of Cen­tral Asia into the global po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sys­tem, also nec­es­sary is the par­tic­i­pa­tion of world ac­tors. In par­tic­u­lar, in the new con­di­tions of close and trust­ful re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, the role of such lead­ing in­ter­na­tional bod­ies as the United Na­tions, the Euro­pean Union, the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, the World Bank, in­ter alia, is in great de­mand.

The adop­tion by the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly of the res­o­lu­tion “Strength­en­ing re­gional and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to en­sure peace, sta­bil­ity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in the Cen­tral Asian re­gion” has be­come a truly his­toric event.

Coun­selor of the Em­bassy of the Kyr­gyz Repub­lic in the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan Kemel Sadykov:

- At the high­est in­ter­na­tional level, the im­por­tant role of Cen­tral Asian coun­tries in se­cur­ing peace, sta­bil­ity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion is ac­knowl­edged. The Cen­tral Asian na­tions have come up with a num­ber of im­por­tant re­gional and in­ter­na­tional ini­tia­tives in the field of se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment that found sup­port in the world com­mu­nity. I think there is no need to list these ini­tia­tives now, as they are re­flected in the text of the res­o­lu­tion and we all know about them.

At the same time, it seems nec­es­sary to con­tinue to take ef­forts to de­velop and pro­mote mu­tu­ally agreed re­gional ini­tia­tives in the world arena, to sup­port each other on in­ter­na­tional plat­forms and dur­ing elec­tions to var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional bod­ies, and, if elected, to firmly de­fend, to­gether with na­tional in­ter­ests, the in­ter­ests of the re­gion in gen­eral.

In light of this, I would like to note that fol­low­ing the suit of the Repub­lic of Kaza­khstan, cur­rently the first among the Cen­tral Asian states to be mem­ber of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and ad­e­quately rep­re­sents not only Kaza­khstan, but the whole of our re­gion, the Kyr­gyz Repub­lic nom­i­nated its can­di­dacy for non-per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for the pe­riod 2027-2028.

As part of this gov­ern­ing body of the most au­thor­i­ta­tive in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion, Kyr­gyzs­tan is ready to de­vote its ac­tiv­i­ties to ad­dress­ing se­cu­rity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment is­sues in the Cen­tral Asian re­gion and the world as a whole.

An im­por­tant role in the adop­tion of the res­o­lu­tion we are dis­cussing to­day be­longs to Uzbek­istan, who drafted the doc­u­ment and or­ga­nized its con­struc­tive dis­cus­sion with in­ter­ested par­ties. It can­not be said that the dis­cus­sion among Cen­tral Asian coun­tries was un­com­pli­cated and ab­so­lutely at ease.

And this is quite nat­u­ral, since all par­ties un­der­stood the great im­por­tance and re­spon­si­bil­ity of the work. Cer­tainly, there were heated dis­cus­sions, dis­agree­ments, which at times seemed in­sur­mount­able. But, as is known, it is in dis­cus­sions that one can learn not only to lis­ten, but also to hear, and also un­der­stand and re­spect each other, to make mu­tual con­ces­sions and com­pro­mises. And it is in dis­putes, as folk wis­dom goes, that truth is born.

As a re­sult, we man­aged to reach a com­mon stance, and the draft res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly was unan­i­mously sup­ported by all UN mem­ber states. Thus, the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia have de­clared their readi­ness and abil­ity to solve the is­sues of the re­gional agenda, count­ing first of all on their own strengths. The world com­mu­nity sup­ports us in this. And now we have to prove this by joint prac­ti­cal ac­tions.

The main di­rec­tion of our com­mon ac­tiv­ity, of course, is to en­sure se­cu­rity in the re­gion. The prob­lems of in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism, ex­trem­ism, drug traf­fick­ing and other con­tem­po­rary threats and chal­lenges re­quire closer and more co­or­di­nated co­op­er­a­tion among the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia, as well as with in­ter­na­tional and re­gional or­ga­ni­za­tions. In light of this, it is also im­por­tant, as part of ef­forts of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, to take mea­sures to pro­mote the peace process and so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Afghanistan.

One of the in­dis­pens­able con­di­tions for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of Cen­tral Asia is the ex­ten­sive use of the tran­sit and lo­gis­tics po­ten­tial of the re­gion, the cre­ation of a mod­ern trans­port in­fra­struc­ture, launch of new in­ter­na­tional trans­port cor­ri­dors, air, mo­tor and rail­way routes, the in­tro­duc­tion of mu­tual pref­er­ences in the trans­porta­tion of for­eign trade goods.

Cen­tral Asia has a huge and di­verse nat­u­ral po­ten­tial and ecosys­tems that re­quire a care­ful at­ti­tude to­wards them.

In the mean­time, there are prob­lems of ura­nium tailings, the dry­ing out of the Aral Sea, con­ser­va­tion of bio-re­sources, and also en­dan­gered pop­u­la­tions of rare species of an­i­mals and plants. In this re­gard, it is es­sen­tial to con­sol­i­date our ef­forts to meet the chal­lenges of the re­gion’s en­vi­ron­men­tal se­cu­rity and en­sure eco­log­i­cal bal­ance.

Spe­cial at­ten­tion should be paid to the ex­pan­sion of cul­tural and hu­man­i­tar­ian ties aimed at pre­serv­ing the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural her­itage of the peo­ples of Cen­tral Asia, sup­port­ing in­ter­cul­tural di­a­logue, de­vel­op­ing youth and sports ex­changes, and deep­en­ing con­tacts among ed­u­ca­tional and re­search cen­ters and or­ga­ni­za­tions.

In this con­nec­tion, I would like to quote the state­ment of the clas­sic in the world lit­er­a­ture, the great Kyr­gyz writer Chin­giz Ait­ma­tov, whose 90th an­niver­sary this year will be widely cel­e­brated not only in Kyr­gyzs­tan, but also in Uzbek­istan. It reads, “When peo­ple are ob­sessed with some com­mon con­cerns, in­ter­ests, ideas and even anx­i­eties, they go to the same goal and equally un­der­stand the mean­ing of life, the value of life, the sig­nif­i­cance of the sit­u­a­tion in which they are at the mo­ment. They, some­where dif­fer­ing, nev­er­the­less, over­come mis­un­der­stand­ing and ar­rive at mu­tual un­der­stand­ing. From this they are en­riched. There­fore, we must strive for mu­tual un­der­stand­ing in var­i­ous as­pects.”

The Kyr­gyz Repub­lic be­lieves in the huge po­ten­tial of Cen­tral Asia and is de­ter­mined to ac­tively con­tinue work­ing to­gether to ce­ment peace, sta­bil­ity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion. We are will­ing to con­sol­i­date shared un­der­stand­ing and mu­tu­ally ad­van­ta­geous re­la­tions with our part­ners, and we are firmly con­vinced that only by acting to­gether will we be able to de­liver the con­di­tions needed for the pros­per­ity of our peo­ples.

Am­bas­sador Ex­tra­or­di­nary and Plenipo­ten­tiary of the Repub­lic of Ta­jik­istan in the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan Sodik Imomi:

- The adop­tion by the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly of the res­o­lu­tion “Strength­en­ing re­gional and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion to en­sure peace, sta­bil­ity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in the Cen­tral Asian re­gion” is un­prece­dented in the his­tory of the United Na­tions, and for our coun­tries it was a land­mark event. The fact that it was ap­proved with­out a vote speaks about the weighty sup­port of the world com­mu­nity for the pos­i­tive trans­for­ma­tion tak­ing place in our re­gion. These changes be­came pos­si­ble largely thanks to the new pol­icy of the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan Shavkat Mirziy­oyev, who pro­claimed Cen­tral Asia a pri­or­ity vec­tor. Thanks to this pol­icy, sup­ported by all coun­tries of the re­gion, which, in­ci­den­tally, was demon­strated at the first Cen­tral Asian con­sul­ta­tive meet­ing in Astana, a new at­mos­phere is emerging, one of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of whose is the re­gion’s greater open­ness and readi­ness for co­op­er­a­tion with the out­side world.

This at­mos­phere has made it pos­si­ble to re­solve within a short span of time many of the most com­pli­cated is­sues on the ba­sis of mu­tual consideration of in­ter­ests, and our peo­ples are al­ready en­joy­ing the fruits of the new im­age of the re­gion. In par­tic­u­lar, dur­ing the state visit of Shavkat Mirziy­oyev to Ta­jik­istan, break­through agree­ments were reached, re­mov­ing all bar­ri­ers to con­struc­tive in­ter­ac­tion in all ar­eas, we found so­lu­tions that sat­is­fied both sides on such a se­ri­ous prob­lem as the ter­ri­to­ri­al­bor­der is­sue. In short, ac­cord­ing to Shavkat Mirziy­oyev’s apt ex­pres­sion, a new era has come in Ta­jik-Uzbek re­la­tions – an epoch of cre­ative co­op­er­a­tion.

It is known that all the coun­tries of the re­gion, in­clud­ing the Repub­lic of Ta­jik­istan, were the main co-au­thors of this doc­u­ment, which is a demon­stra­tion of the de­ter­mi­na­tion and readi­ness of the Cen­tral Asian coun­tries to work to­gether for peace, sta­bil­ity and de­vel­op­ment.

A solid foun­da­tion for mul­ti­fac­eted re­la­tions un­der new con­di­tions is laid by the his­tor­i­cal spir­i­tual and cul­tural her­itage, as well as the cen­turies-old tra­di­tions of mu­tual re­spect, friend­ship and good-neigh­bor­li­ness that unite the peo­ples of Cen­tral Asia. In ad­di­tion, the re­gion has enor­mous min­eral, en­ergy, sci­en­tific and pro­duc­tion, trade and eco­nomic po­ten­tial, trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and, cru­cially, the in­tel­lec­tual ca­pac­i­ties for joint co­op­er­a­tion and co-de­vel­op­ment.

Along with these pos­i­tive start­ing po­si­tions, the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia face a com­plex of chal­lenges and threats to their se­cu­rity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. The sit­u­a­tion in the re­gion is se­ri­ously af­fected by the in­sta­bil­ity in Afghanistan, in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism, drug traf­fick­ing and or­ga­nized crime.

Lack of ac­cess to sea­ports, crit­i­cal trends in the world econ­omy, cli­mate change, the con­se­quences of nat­u­ral and man-made dis­as­ters also af­fect the de­vel­op­ment of our coun­tries.

Trans­for­ma­tion of Cen­tral Asia into a re­gion with a high de­gree of se­cu­rity, with a dy­nam­i­cally de­vel­op­ing pro­duc­tive po­ten­tial, with a busi­ness­friendly in­vest­ment cli­mate, ad­vanced in­fra­struc­ture and the es­sen­tial con­di­tions for rais­ing the liv­ing stan­dards and qual­ity de­pends on our joint ef­forts.

Look­ing at sta­tis­tics, one can see that Uzbek­istan’s for­eign trade is con­nected with four Cen­tral Asian coun­tries, and if we take Afghanistan, then it is with the five coun­tries that sur­round Uzbek­istan. In 2017, trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions with these na­tions all showed growth – from 20% to 70% growth in mu­tual trade. With the adop­tion of the res­o­lu­tion, the coun­tries of the re­gion – for the first time since 1991 – were able to come for­ward with a uni­fied stance on the co­or­di­na­tion of ef­forts in ad­dress­ing com­mon is­sues. In fact, the Cen­tral Asian na­tions have moved on to the next round in the evo­lu­tion of re­gional in­ter­ac­tion.

The coun­tries of the re­gion agree that weath­er­ing the im­pact of these phe­nom­ena is pos­si­ble on the ba­sis of the for­mu­la­tion of co­or­di­nated ap­proaches, strength­en­ing of di­a­logue, in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing in pro­mot­ing joint ini­tia­tives to en­sure re­gional se­cu­rity, trade de­vel­op­ment and ex­pan­sion of trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

In my opin­ion, the res­o­lu­tion of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly can be a good pre­con­di­tion for the co­op­er­a­tion of the coun­tries of the re­gion at all lev­els and the pro­mo­tion of fur­ther joint co­or­di­nated ini­tia­tives. In ad­di­tion, it can serve as an en­cour­ag­ing sig­nal for ex­ter­nal in­vestors and de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

I hope the con­sis­tent im­ple­men­ta­tion by our na­tions of the goals and tasks out­lined in the res­o­lu­tion will al­low in the near fu­ture to en­sure a qual­i­ta­tive leap in the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion, which in turn will boost our ag­gre­gate po­ten­tial for ad­dress­ing com­mon is­sues and neu­tral­iz­ing the chal­lenges and threats we face.

Di­rec­tor of the Ma’no Cen­ter for Re­search Ini­tia­tives Bakhtiyor Er­ga­shev:

- Uzbek­istan places the great­est em­pha­sis on co­op­er­a­tion with the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia. And, as it seems, the prin­ci­ple of re­fusal to par­tic­i­pate in in­te­gra­tion projects ini­ti­ated by forces ex­ter­nal to the re­gion is syn­chro­nized to­day within the frame­work of the new De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy, with the pol­icy of in­ten­si­fy­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in Cen­tral Asia. This is the core of Uzbek­istan’s for­eign pol­icy, and this ex­plains a lot.

The coun­try still does not get into in­te­gra­tion struc­tures of­fered by ex­ter­nal forces. At the same time, it is wrong to say that Uzbek­istan is op­posed only to Rus­sian in­te­gra­tion ini­tia­tives. We are talk­ing, for ex­am­ple, about the in­ten­sively pro­moted idea of cre­at­ing a free trade zone of the SCO, where only Uzbek­istan dares to tell China that it is not in its in­ter­ests.

A qual­i­ta­tively new stage of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion has come, which al­lows us to say that we are mov­ing to in­ter­state co­op­er­a­tion with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of both state and non-state eco­nomic ac­tors. And this was largely fa­cil­i­tated by the readi­ness of all coun­tries in the re­gion, and, of course, the com­ple­tion of the process of form­ing the na­tional iden­tity of all states.

One of the prin­ci­ples of for­eign pol­icy is the ac­tive stance of Uzbek­istan for the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of var­i­ous forms of co­op­er­a­tion among the coun­tries of the re­gion. And this is al­ready done. UzbekKazakh cars are be­ing as­sem­bled in Kostanai for sale to the mar­kets of the EAEU. Uzbek­istan is set­ting up pro­duc­tion of buses and cars in south­ern Kyr­gyzs­tan in a test mode. It is planned to es­tab­lish the pro­duc­tion of agri­cul­tural machin­ery in Ta­jik­istan to en­ter the mar­kets of Afghanistan and Pak­istan.

Those changes that have oc­curred in Uzbek­istan, in­di­cate that Uzbek­istan is ready to change the model of eco­nomic growth. And the mar­kets of neigh­bor­ing coun­tries are promis­ing for our en­trepreneurs. Cer­tain vol­umes of Uzbek prod­ucts are al­ready de­liv­ered to Ta­jik­istan, rang­ing from petro­chem­i­cals, chem­i­cals (min­eral fer­til­iz­ers), to tex­tiles, cars and fur­ni­ture. The same as­sort­ment is sent to Kyr­gyzs­tan (espe­cially south­ern parts of the coun­try).

One can cite a small ex­am­ple of how Uzbek fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­tur­ers are ac­tively de­vel­op­ing neigh­bor­ing mar­kets. In Uzbek­istan, there is no for­est at all, it is brought from Rus­sia, fur­ni­ture is made and sold to other coun­tries, prob­a­bly will be sold in Rus­sia it­self. We have cre­ated a fur­ni­ture in­dus­try from scratch, and it is ready for ex­port. The Uzbek mar­ket, de­spite the fact that it is the largest in the en­tire Cen­tral Asia (more than 30 mil­lion con­sumers), still not enough ca­pa­cious. And there are 70 mil­lion con­sumers in the re­gion, and if we take into ac­count the 30 mil­lion-strong Afghan mar­ket that will buy ev­ery­thing that would not have been of­fered to it. And so, for ex­am­ple, large poul­try farms have be­gun to be built in the south­ern re­gions of Uzbek­istan, which are fo­cused mainly on Afghanistan (egg, chicken, ev­ery­thing goes to Afghanistan). It turns out that Uzbek­istan, from phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to cars and elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances, can pro­vide not only the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia and Afghanistan, but also more dis­tant mar­kets. The de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try has this as an ob­jec­tive.

Uzbek­istan’s ac­tive for­eign pol­icy is aimed at open­ing the mar­kets of neigh­bor­ing coun­tries for Uzbek prod­ucts. In gen­eral, a good for­eign pol­icy is a good ser­vant of the coun­try’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests. The bet­ter it serves eco­nomic in­ter­ests, the more it wins. Such a pol­icy is not liked by diplo­mats or for­eign min­istries, but in fact, for­eign pol­icy should serve the in­ter­ests of busi­ness and the eco­nomic in­ter­ests of the na­tion.

To­day we are al­ready see­ing an in­crease in in­vest­ment, but so far it is not very high. But we need to un­der­stand that in or­der for busi­ness to come up with in­vest­ments, it must make sure that changes in the coun­try take place se­ri­ously and for a long time. But our trans­for­ma­tion is only a year and a half years old. Most of the in­vestors are still look­ing closely, I per­son­ally heard about such plans from the mouths of Rus­sian, Kazakh, Turk­ish, Ira­nian busi­ness­men and pro­duc­ers who are in­ter­ested in the Uzbek mar­ket. I am con­fi­dent that the changes tak­ing place will in­evitably lead to fa­vor­able con­di­tions for for­eign in­vestors. Such, for ex­am­ple, are pref­er­en­tial work­ing con­di­tions in the coun­try in free eco­nomic zones, small in­dus­trial zones. All this can give a very good re­sult.

In the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try alone, Uzbek­istan has cre­ated seven free eco­nomic zones where it is pos­si­ble to grow, process and pro­duce cer­tain cul­tures for the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try. In­dian, Rus­sian, Kazakh en­trepreneurs are very keen on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, free eco­nomic zones in Uzbek­istan to in­vest. And we are talk­ing about the for­ma­tion of a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal chain among Rus­sia, Kaza­khstan and Uzbek­istan, so the process is al­ready there and the re­sult will be un­am­bigu­ous.

Chair­man of the Cen­tral Asia – Cau­ca­sus In­sti­tute (CACI) un­der the Amer­i­can For­eign Pol­icy Coun­cil (USA) S. Fred­er­ick Starr:

- Uzbek­istan is a key driv­ing force be­hind the emer­gence of a new stage of re­gion­al­ism in Cen­tral Asia. The adop­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion on con­sol­i­dat­ing co­op­er­a­tion in Cen­tral Asia was an un­ex­pected de­vel­op­ment, since the West did not rule out de­lay­ing the process of its har­mo­niza­tion by all the states of the re­gion. At the same time, the doc­u­ment be­came a case of a clear ev­i­dence of the Cen­tral Asian coun­tries’ will­ing­ness to in­de­pen­dently and jointly address com­mon prob­lems of re­gional se­cu­rity and de­vel­op­ment with­out third par­ties.

It is im­por­tant that the text of the res­o­lu­tion does not con­tain the word ‘in­te­gra­tion’, but refers to the de­vel­op­ment of close and co­or­di­nated co­op­er­a­tion among the na­tions of the re­gion. All this demonstrates the lack of ‘po­lit­i­cal over­tones’ in the Uzbek ini­tia­tive, the non-di­rec­tion of the idea of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion against the in­ter­ests of ex­trare­gional ac­tors. In turn, ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in the elab­o­ra­tion of the doc­u­ment from Rus­sia, China, the United States, the EU and other part­ners of the Cen­tral Asian coun­tries tes­ti­fies to the in­ter­est of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the ef­forts of the states of the re­gion to se­cure peace, sta­bil­ity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in this part of the world.

Uzbek­istan’s for­eign pol­icy to ce­ment in­ter­state co­op­er­a­tion in Cen­tral Asia, the en­gage­ment of Afghanistan in the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic ties in the re­gion con­tributed to the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of US and EU poli­cies in the Cen­tral Asian track. Cur­rently, the West in­tends to en­hance in­ter­ac­tion with Cen­tral Asia, con­sid­er­ing it as a “sin­gle and in­te­grated re­gion”. More­over, Wash­ing­ton and Brus­sels are aware of the need to de­velop a spe­cial, more ef­fec­tive strat­egy for this part of the world with­out link­ing it to the Afghan cam­paign, to the poli­cies of Rus­sia and China, as it used to be in the past. Thus, the EU al­ready plans to up­date, by 2019, its Strat­egy for Cen­tral Asia, de­signed to bring the in­ter­ac­tion to a new level. In the United States, it is im­por­tant to fill the C5 + 1 co­op­er­a­tion for­mat with prac­ti­cal sub­stance.

Along with this, in or­der to main­tain the pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, the West needs to ad­here to the fol­low­ing prin­ci­ples: first, it is im­per­a­tive to con­tinue with sup­port for the process of em­pow­er­ing the Cen­tral Asian states with po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sovereignty; sec­ond, it is es­sen­tial to pro­mote the preser­va­tion of the secular model of de­vel­op­ment in the states of Cen­tral Asia against the back­drop of the mount­ing ten­den­cies of par­tial dis­man­tling of sec­u­lar­ism in some coun­tries and re­gions of the world.

It is ex­tremely im­por­tant for these coun­tries not only to do some­thing, but also per­suade oth­ers to un­der­stand and ac­knowl­edge what they are do­ing. This is what the 22 June 2018 res­o­lu­tion of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly of the United Na­tions is about.

The strate­gic im­por­tance of the Cen­tral Asian re­gion for the West will in­crease with the es­tab­lish­ment and ex­pan­sion of the trans-Caspian in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the re­gion and the South Cau­ca­sus. Amid the ‘un­friendly’ pol­icy to­wards the United States by Rus­sia, China, Iran and Pak­istan, the trans-Caspian course of co­op­er­a­tion is the most ac­cept­able op­tion for Wash­ing­ton in ex­pand­ing ties with Cen­tral Asian na­tions. Pre­vi­ously, the US ad­hered to the er­ro­neous ap­proach, de­not­ing the Cau­ca­sus re­gion as part of Europe, and Cen­tral Asia as the South Asian re­gion.

In this re­gard, Wash­ing­ton and Brus­sels wel­come Uzbek­istan’s pol­icy of co­op­er­a­tion en­hance­ment with Azer­bai­jan and Ge­or­gia in trade and eco­nomic, trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tion ar­eas, as well as in se­cu­rity is­sues. In the West they ex­pect that Tashkent, as in the case with Afghanistan, like­wise will take a strate­gic ini­tia­tive to spear­head in­ter-re­gional co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Cen­tral Asia and the South Cau­ca­sus.

Amer­i­can aca­demics also ap­pre­ci­ate the role of Uzbek­istan in pro­mot­ing the spirit of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and co­or­di­na­tion in Cen­tral Asia.

Per­ma­nent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan to the United Na­tions Bakhtiyor Ibrag­i­mov:

- The pri­or­ity task in de­vel­op­ing this project for us was the adop­tion of the res­o­lu­tion not by vote, but by con­sen­sus. For this, it was re­quired to ob­serve a num­ber of con­di­tions: first, to en­sure the uni­ver­sal na­ture of the doc­u­ment and the ab­sence of pro­vi­sions con­trary to the in­ter­ests of other states; sec­ond, to avoid du­pli­ca­tion of its sub­jects with the pre­vi­ous de­ci­sions of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly; third, en­list ex­ten­sive sup­port from the UN mem­ber states and the re­gional groups for the draft doc­u­ment be­fore it is sub­mit­ted to the ple­nary ses­sion of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

To this end, in the frame­work of the United Na­tions, we con­ducted in­ten­sive work, pri­mar­ily with its key mem­ber states – the United States, China, coun­tries of the EU, Latin Amer­ica and Africa, Rus­sia, In­dia, Pak­istan and other coun­tries, re­gional groups, the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Islamic Co­op­er­a­tion – to ex­plain the essence and key pro­vi­sions of the res­o­lu­tion.

Dur­ing sev­eral rounds of in­for­mal con­sul­ta­tions through ac­tive diplo­macy, we man­aged to pre­serve prac­ti­cally all the prin­ci­ples of the res­o­lu­tion, which are fun­da­men­tal for the Uzbek side. At the same time, most coun­tries showed a con­struc­tive at­ti­tude to the consideration of the doc­u­ment, wel­com­ing the unity of po­si­tions of the Cen­tral Asian states on the draft res­o­lu­tion.

I would like to em­pha­size that from the very be­gin­ning of consideration of the ini­tia­tive to adopt a spe­cial res­o­lu­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly on Cen­tral Asia, a pos­i­tive back­ground was formed around it. Ac­cord­ing to for­eign ob­servers, this is pri­mar­ily due to the grow­ing em­i­nence of the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan in the in­ter­na­tional arena ow­ing to his prag­matic for­eign pol­icy, which has caused a fun­da­men­tal shift in re­la­tions among the Cen­tral Asian coun­tries.

In the UN they note: it’s time for the world com­mu­nity to pay closer at­ten­tion to the pos­i­tive changes tak­ing place in Cen­tral Asia. From their point of view, re­gional co­op­er­a­tion is the main key for main­tain­ing peace, sta­bil­ity of the states of the re­gion, their eco­nomic and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

In gen­eral, the adop­tion of this res­o­lu­tion should be seen pri­mar­ily as recog­ni­tion by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of the rel­e­vance and time­li­ness of the ini­tia­tive of Uzbek­istan’s lead­er­ship and its full sup­port. Cen­tral Asia that con­tributed for mil­len­nia to the di­a­logue and in­ter­pen­e­tra­tion of world cul­tures, lan­guages and re­li­gions, to­day, hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant en­ergy and nat­u­ral re­source po­ten­tial, unique trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties, once again ac­quires an im­por­tant geopo­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance as one of the key el­e­ments in the sys­tem of en­sur­ing peace, sta­bil­ity, se­cu­rity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of the en­tire Eurasian con­ti­nent.

To­day, Uzbek­istan is un­der greater at­ten­tion in the UN. This is ex­plained by the no­tice­able in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of the coun­try’s ac­tiv­i­ties in the in­ter­na­tional arena thanks to the open, con­struc­tive and com­pre­hen­sively though-out for­eign pol­icy of the na­tion’s lead­er­ship. Thus, Uzbek­istan has demon­strated lately un­prece­dented ac­tiv­ity in pro­mot­ing im­por­tant ini­tia­tives in the field of re­gional se­cu­rity, en­sur­ing in­ter­re­li­gious tol­er­ance and cre­at­ing con­di­tions for the self-re­al­iza­tion of youth.

Di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral Asia – Cau­ca­sus In­sti­tute (CACI) in Wash­ing­ton Svante Cor­nell:

- The res­o­lu­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly on Cen­tral Asia is im­por­tant be­cause the doc­u­ment not only demonstrates the pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics of con­sol­i­dat­ing co­op­er­a­tion in the re­gion, but also con­trib­utes to the in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of Cen­tral Asia as a uni­fied space. Why do I stress this? Be­cause in 1992, all the lead­ers of the states of the re­gion gath­ered and an­nounced that they are no longer “Mid­dle Asia and Kaza­khstan”, but in­stead “Cen­tral Asia”. Ever since, these coun­tries have tried in ev­ery pos­si­ble way to con­vince them­selves and the world com­mu­nity that they rep­re­sent a sin­gle re­gion. For a long time, for­eign na­tions, espe­cially those in the West, as well as Ja­pan and even Rus­sia and China viewed Cen­tral Asia as a sin­gle re­gion.

Un­for­tu­nately, then came the time of dis­agree­ments and mis­un­der­stand­ings. Rus­sia viewed Cen­tral Asia as part of a large Eura­sia. China, though some­times, but it seems that per­ceives Cen­tral Asia as a sep­a­rate space, nev­er­the­less, the former is more in­clined to see the lat­ter as an in­te­gral el­e­ment of an am­bi­tious project called “One Belt, One Road”, which is dis­tinct with huge ge­og­ra­phy. The prob­lems with the West are even greater: for a time they have ceased to per­ceive Cen­tral Asia as a sin­gle area, pre­fer­ring to see a num­ber of in­di­vid­ual states with their own poli­cies. And for Wash­ing­ton, it was the road to a “gas sta­tion”.

Sev­eral years ago, the idea of a Greater Cen­tral Asia link­ing five coun­tries of the re­gion and Afghanistan was un­der ac­tive dis­cus­sion in ex­pert cir­cles. In my opin­ion, this strate­gic vi­sion will some­how be­come a re­al­ity for the sim­ple rea­son that it re­futes the out­dated ap­proach to Cen­tral Asia as a com­mu­nity of five states – Kaza­khstan, Kyr­gyzs­tan, Ta­jik­istan, Turk­menistan and Uzbek­istan.

Even while a col­lege stu­dent, I found a pe­ri­od­i­cal ti­tled the Cen­tral Asi­atic Jour­nal in the li­brary and was glad that I would fi­nally read aca­demic ar­ti­cles on the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia. But in fact, most of the jour­nal ma­te­rial talked about Chi­nese Xin­jiang. That was an elo­quent tes­ti­mony to a wider cov­er­age of the Cen­tral Asian re­gion. Geo­graph­i­cally and his­tor­i­cally, Cen­tral Asia is a much larger re­gion than the ter­ri­tory of the five states men­tioned above.

His­tor­i­cally, the Cen­tral Asian coun­tries traded not with the north­ern states, but with In­dia, Pak­istan and China. The Russo-British geopo­lit­i­cal ri­valry in the 19th cen­tury for the heart of Asia broke up these trade bonds by ‘ty­ing’ Pak­istan eco­nom­i­cally to In­dia and Afghanistan, and the coun­tries of Cen­tral Asia to Rus­sia. To­day, ev­ery­thing re­turns to nor­mal. For ex­am­ple, the ‘con­nec­tion’ of Uzbek­istan to trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions in South Asia is very en­cour­ag­ing.

Thus, only the po­lit­i­cal def­i­ni­tion of Cen­tral Asia is lim­ited to five states, while all the main char­ac­ter­is­tics – trade, cul­tural, civ­i­liza­tional – have a much greater spa­tial cov­er­age. There­fore, the emer­gence of Greater Cen­tral Asia is in­evitable. And this is not nec­es­sar­ily a po­lit­i­cal project: there is no need for this. But “the re­u­ni­fi­ca­tion of old Cen­tral Asia with a new one” is an in­evitable process, and it is al­ready on its way.

Mem­ber of the Grand Na­tional As­sem­bly of Turkey Samil Ayrim:

- The Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan Shavkat Mirziy­oyev, from the first days of his lead­er­ship of the coun­try, iden­ti­fied the de­vel­op­ment of con­struc­tive, mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial and good-neigh­borly re­la­tions with the states of Cen­tral Asia, strength­en­ing of se­cu­rity in this part of the world as a pri­or­ity of his for­eign pol­icy.

Uzbek­istan’s leader pre­sented his strate­gic vi­sion of en­sur­ing re­gional se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity to the world com­mu­nity at the 72nd ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly in New York in Septem­ber 2017. Later, in Novem­ber that same year, dur­ing the Sa­markand Con­fer­ence “Cen­tral Asia: One Past and a Com­mon Fu­ture, Co­op­er­a­tion for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment and Mu­tual Pros­per­ity”, the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan pro­posed a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gram of joint ef­forts at the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els to se­cure last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the Cen­tral Asia. At this his­toric con­fer­ence, Shavkat Mirziy­oyev pro­posed the elab­o­ra­tion of a spe­cial res­o­lu­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly in sup­port of the ef­forts of Cen­tral Asian states to en­sure se­cu­rity and bol­ster re­gional co­op­er­a­tion.

Uzbek­istan has demon­strated its abil­ity to cre­ate all nec­es­sary con­di­tions for the timely im­ple­men­ta­tion of this ini­tia­tive, and on June 22, 2018, the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly at its gen­eral ses­sion adopted a res­o­lu­tion ti­tled “Strength­en­ing re­gional and in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion for en­sur­ing peace, sta­bil­ity and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in the Cen­tral Asian re­gion”. The doc­u­ment, drafted by Uzbek­istan jointly with its neigh­bors in the re­gion, was unan­i­mously sup­ported by all UN mem­ber na­tions. It is grat­i­fy­ing that Turkey not only ini­tially sup­ported this ini­tia­tive, but also co-au­thored the draft sub­mit­ted to the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly for consideration.

The essence and sub­stance of the res­o­lu­tion demonstrates, firstly, the sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess of the Uzbek diplo­macy, and, sec­ond, the pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics in the grow­ing co­op­er­a­tion in the re­gion, third, it up­lifts the role and im­por­tance of Cen­tral Asia in the world, in­clud­ing its in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion as a formed sin­gle re­gion. From this point of view, the adop­tion of this doc­u­ment is a very im­por­tant event, the essence and sig­nif­i­cance of which will need to be taken into ac­count in de­vis­ing medi­u­mand long-term strate­gies for Cen­tral Asia.

In fact, it can be stated that this is the be­gin­ning of a new era in the for­ma­tion of a mod­ern Cen­tral Asian iden­tity, a sin­gle re­gional space for se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity.

Sayyed Sha­habud­din Timuri, Am­bas­sador Ex­tra­or­di­nary and Plenipo­ten­tiary of Afghanistan to Uzbek­istan

- Afghanistan has deep his­tor­i­cal ties with the states of Cen­tral Asia, and is a trade and trans­port cor­ri­dor in the re­gion. There­fore, our coun­try strongly sup­ports any steps aimed at es­tab­lish­ing re­gional sta­bil­ity. The res­o­lu­tion of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly is a step in this di­rec­tion, which aims to, among other things, raise re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in Cen­tral Asia to a higher level, and also to sta­bi­lize the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan. We warmly sup­port this ini­tia­tive. In this re­gard, I em­pha­size that Afghanistan is mak­ing great ef­forts to ex­pand friendly re­la­tions with all the re­publics of Cen­tral Asia.

On the other hand, the coun­tries of the re­gion are try­ing to re­sist the chal­lenges of our time, pri­mar­ily ter­ror­ism. I am con­fi­dent that the ex­pan­sion of eco­nomic ties in Cen­tral Asia, the es­tab­lish­ment of good-neigh­borly re­la­tions among the states of the re­gion will con­trib­ute to this task.

I would like to note that in this is­sue Afghanistan does not want to be just an ob­server, but seeks to play a more ac­tive role in this process, in which the Cen­tral Asian na­tions con­trib­ute to the peace process in our coun­try. Here I would like to ex­press my deep grat­i­tude to the gov­ern­ment of Uzbek­istan for or­ga­niz­ing an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on Afghanistan and, of course, for sup­port­ing eco­nomic is­sues. Uzbek­istan is the first coun­try to build a rail­way in Afghanistan. This 75 km long line, Haira­ton – Mazar-i-Sharif, has been op­er­at­ing since 2011 and is the first long-dis­tance rail­way line of gen­eral use. And this fact will for­ever re­main in the his­tory of Afghanistan.

The rail­way her­alds trans­port in­te­gra­tion in the north­ern part of the coun­try. Now we are work­ing with Uzbek experts to con­tinue this rail­way from Mazar-i-Sharif to Herat.

In ad­di­tion, Uzbek­istan is one of the main sup­pli­ers of elec­tric­ity for Afghanistan, where there is an acute short­age of power. Be­cause of the growth in con­sump­tion, we in­tend to fur­ther in­crease the pur­chase of Uzbek en­ergy.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions are cur­rently un­der­way to build a new Surkhon-Puli-Khumri transmission line and then Uzbek­istan will be able to swell the ex­port of elec­tric­ity to Afghanistan sev­eral times.

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