(Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul)
In recent years, the authority and role of Uzbekistan, which under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, have been growing not only in the region, but also in the world; the country’s positive influence on the international dynamic has been increasing. It goes without saying that a vital role in this is played through active participation in the institutions of multilateral cooperation -- international and regional organizations. In this sense, Uzbekistan’s partnership with Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is of particular importance.
The organization brings together eight permanent members, including China, Russia, India and Pakistan, with the status of nuclear powers, four observer states and nine “dialogue partners.”
Today, the SCO is the world’s largest regional organization. The total territory of the countries, belonging to SCO exceeds 34 million square kilometers, which is more than 60 percent of the territory of the Eurasian continent. The total population of the SCO countries is more than 3 billion people, which is almost half of the world’s population.
“The SCO Big Family,” which consists of 21 countries, covers three continents -- Asia, Europe and Africa.
Twenty-one years ago, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan joined the SCO as founders and actively participate in its work today, which indicates that this structure is extremely important for strengthening stability and cooperation in Central Asia.
It is expected that Iran will soon become a full member of the organization. In other words, the SCO opens the door to the Middle East, which is a strategically important region.
Uzbekistan currently chairs this prestigious organization.
The new foreign policy strategy of Uzbekistan over the past five years is clearly reflected in the activities of the SCO. Within the framework of the organization, Uzbekistan puts forward many relevant initiatives and proposals that contribute to improving its image in the international arena, corresponding to the priority areas of socioeconomic development, and actively contributes to enriching the existing agenda.
It can be said that the strategy implemented in the SCO space under the leadership of Mirziyoyev is based on such basic principles as constructiveness, pragmatism and initiative.
First, over the past five years, Uzbekistan’s attitude toward this organization has changed in a constructive way. First of all, Tashkent actively participates in the process of cooperation in all areas of the SCO. For example, until 2017, representatives of the republic did not fully participate in some of the organization’s activities in the field of security, in particular, in joint military and anti-terrorist exercises, as well as some cultural and educational programs. And at present, the country not only influences the development of various areas within the structure, but also fully supports the proposals put forward by other SCO member states that meet common current interests.
Secondly, the pragmatism of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy, which is also reflected in other multilateral diplomatic platforms, concerns Uzbekistan’s participation in the SCO as well. The initiatives put forward by Tashkent reflect the national interests and priority directions of the country’s development, and fully comply with the main activities aimed at sustainable development of the region.
Thirdly, recently Uzbekistan has become one of the most proactive members of the SCO. In other words, the commitment to strengthen the activities of the organization in important areas and enrich the agenda through new relevant areas is clearly reflected in the concrete and large-scale initiatives put forward by our country.
As the analysis shows, in 2017-2021, the president of Uzbekistan proposed about 50 important and relevant initiatives at SCO summits.
Uzbekistan-SCO: Priority tasks of the chairmanship
As noted above, the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in this organization is a serious political process that places great responsibility on Uzbek diplomacy.
(Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul)
At the same time, the chairmanship will allow Uzbekistan not only to continue its growth strategy within the organization, but also to enrich it with new and significant facets that will produce concrete results.
At the SCO summit held in Dushanbe on Sept. 16-17, 2021, it was announced that a number of new legal, conceptual and policy documents will be developed under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the SCO.
In particular, in order to further expand the multifaceted partnership within the SCO, a comprehensive program for the implementation of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, friendship and cooperation of the SCO member states for 2023-2027, and a joint action plan for the development of intraregional trade are being developed.
It is planned to complete the process of developing and coordinating the SCO concept on the transport interconnectivity.
It is also planned to adopt the program on infrastructure development in the SCO Space, the program of action on cooperation between the leading medical centers of the SCO member states in the field of prevention of infectious diseases, the program on cooperation in the field of telemedicine, the memorandum between the authorized bodies of the SCO member states on cooperation in the field of museum affairs, the agreement on cooperation in the field of the use of renewable energy sources between the SCO member states and a number of other important documents.
In total, more than 80 events of various levels are expected to be held under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan, during which a wide range of issues related to the further development of cooperation in all areas will be considered.
The participation of Uzbekistan in this structure has always been distinguished by its priority attention to economic cooperation.
One of the pressing initiatives in this direction is the creation of the industrial zone “Uzbekistan-SCO,” which will allow the implementation of joint projects with the SCO member states and foreign investors. This goal is also served by the events planned for this year -- the Economic Forum, the Week of Industrial Innovations, the Forum for Small and Medium Enterprises of the SCO Regions, the Forum for the Development of Industrial Cooperation, the Tourism Forum, the Forum of the Heads of the SCO Regions.
At the suggestion of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the first high-level meeting on Afghanistan will be held within the framework of the SCO, which will serve to further strengthen the authority of our country in the regional and international arena. Major events and documents that will be adopted under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan in the SCO are aimed at a broad demonstration and promotion of domestic and foreign policies, priority goals and objectives of the new Uzbekistan.
Major outcomes of Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the SCO will be summed up at the summit scheduled for September 2022 in Samarkand.
This article was contributed by the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Seoul --Ed.
By Sanjay Kumar (firstname.lastname@example.org