The following article was contributed by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
A number of events are being held under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. May was rich in similar events.
In particular, on May 13, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Zhang Ming visited Uzbekistan and held a number of meetings.
On May 16, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev received the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Zhang Ming.
Issues of further expansion of practical cooperation and strengthening regional partnership within the framework of the SCO, as well as preparation of major events during Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the Organization, were considered.
The successful holding of half of the meetings scheduled for this year was noted with satisfaction. Active work is being carried out to coordinate the documents for the upcoming Samarkand SCO Summit.
The necessity of strengthening the Organization’s potential in the fight against new challenges and threats to stability and security, deepening multilateral cooperation based on the principles of the “Shanghai Spirit” was emphasized.
The main attention was paid to the promotion of joint connectivity projects in transport, green energy, innovation, digital economy, and industrial cooperation.
A common opinion was expressed on the need for resuming active cultural and humanitarian ties and tourist exchange in the post-pandemic period.
The current issues on the international agenda were also considered. The need for enhancing the role of the SCO in the Afghan issue and the active involvement of Afghanistan in regional infrastructure development programs was emphasized.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan Vladimir Norov met with the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
The parties discussed the state and prospects of multifaceted cooperation between Uzbekistan and the SCO.
Issues related to the preparation and holding of events under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the SCO were considered. The parties noted the successful holding of more than 40 events of the Organization under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan, discussed organizational issues and the agenda of high-level meetings scheduled for May-September this year.
It was emphasized that, at the initiative of Uzbekistan, new areas of cooperation within the SCO were launched, which contribute to enriching the agenda, taking into account modern realities. Thus, for the first time, ministerial meetings of the SCO member states on information and communication technologies, poverty reduction were held. On May 17, Tashkent will host the first meeting of the heads of agencies responsible for plant quarantine.
The SCO Secretary-General highly appreciated the preparations for the main event – the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO, which will be held on September 15-16 this year in Samarkand. The parties noted the need for continuing active efforts to speed up the process of agreeing on the documents planned for signing as part of the upcoming event.
Views were exchanged on the further development of the SCO activities, increasing its authority in the international arena.
Certain issues on the international and regional agenda, including the current situation in Afghanistan, were also considered.
Within the framework of Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the SCO Public Diplomacy Forum on “Public diplomacy – mutual understanding for development” has kicked off in Tashkent.
The high-level conference is attended by representatives of international organizations, parliaments of the SCO member states, heads of non-governmental structures and scientific-analytical centers.
The SCO actively promotes the development of intercultural dialogue, the construction of “bridges” between peoples with different cultures and traditions. The mechanism of cooperation in culture, education, tourism, youth and gender policy, such events as the SCO International Marathon, the Eight Wonders of the SCO exhibition, effectively serve to reveal and popularize the historical and cultural values of the two countries.
Chairperson of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbayeva noted that public diplomacy is needed today more than ever.
Within the framework of its SCO chairmanship, Uzbekistan attaches great importance to strengthening mutual understanding, respect and trust between the member states by activating cultural-humanitarian ties.
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Norov noted that Asia plays an invaluable role in ensuring prosperity in the SCO space, informed about Uzbekistan's achievements in strengthening trusting relations. The expansion of intercultural relations is facilitated by holding tourism, women’s forums, meetings of the Youth Council, a startup project competition and sports competitions.
Special emphasis was placed on the activities of the SCO Public Diplomacy Center, established in 2017 in Tashkent on the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. In a short period, this structure has taken a worthy place in the organization's system and established close ties with specialized institutions in China, Tajikistan, and other countries.
The forum participants highly appreciated the initiatives forwarded by Uzbekistan, supported Uzbekistan's proposals for the effective realization of the potential of the younger generation in the SCO member states, the introduction of the practice of annually awarding the status of the cultural and tourist capital of the SCO, the creation of SCO Goodwill Ambassador institute.
“The organization was formed on the Great Silk Road, which has been the main economic and spiritual artery of the region for centuries, contributes to the well-being and rapprochement of our peoples, the restoration and further development of ties”, says Vladimir Norov. – The forum participants unanimously recognize that the projects being developed within the framework of the forum will be an important step toward the further rapprochement of our countries.
Following the forum, was adopted the Tashkent Communiqué of the SCO Public Diplomacy.
On May 11-12, Uzbekistan hosted the ninth meeting of the transport ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in Khiva.
On the first day of the event, the guests visited Khiva and examined the Ichan Kala monument, a shrine with a rich history.
At the meeting, organized within the framework of the chairmanship of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the SCO, the transport ministers discussed various issues related to strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation, expanding transport corridors, and effectively using existing opportunities.
A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed to ensure the stable operation of transport between the SCO member states in interstate emergencies and a Memorandum of Cooperation to ensure the uninterrupted operation of transport, taking into account the situation that arose between the states due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding and Roads Development Program in the SCO member states were prepared. A special working group will be created to develop cooperation in transport.
On May 16, Bukhara hosted a meeting of experts and coordinators of the Interbank Association of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization under the chairmanship of the JSC National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan within the framework of the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the SCO in 2021-2022.
The event was attended by leading development institutions of the SCO member states – India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan.
The SCO Secretariat Advisor M.S. Rakhanova and a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan took part in the event as honorary guests.
The main initiative of the National Bank’s chairmanship is aimed at stimulating the growth of mutual trade turnover and investment cooperation between the SCO countries, the development of industrial cooperation, financing of infrastructure projects and further practical implementation of the SCO Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Program for 2021-2025.
The member banks of the Interbank Association noted the importance and timeliness of the initiated documents of the Uzbek side, including emphasizing that the above documents are constructive in accordance with the current new situation in the region and will contribute to attracting investment, cyclical development of the SCO regional economies, strengthening pragmatic financial cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative and implementation of new projects in the innovative technologies, digital economy, construction of industrial parks, medicine and healthcare, energy and agriculture.
The developed documents will serve as an innovative solution for the economic development of the region of the SCO member states, including the successful implementation of infrastructure projects of the member banks of the Interbank Association.
Following the event, the parties approved the above-mentioned initiatives of the National Bank and approved the protocol of the Meeting of Experts and Coordinators of the SCO Interbank Association, according to which the XVIII meeting of the Council of the SCO Interbank Association will be held in September this year in Samarkand, traditionally on the eve of the meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State.