Written by: Mr. Khalid Taimur Akram Executive Director, Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future (PRCCSF), Islamabad.
The rise of the Republic of Uzbekistan is likely to be the greatest ‘game changer’ of the 21st century, as compared to any other regional phenomenon. Due to its historic development, the visionary Uzbek leadership under President Mirziyoyev has gained much popularity. He has been playing an integral role by proposing great projects of alignment and cooperation for other states. In this aspect, the recently concluded 22nd Heads of State SCO Summit has attained much attention. The event was full of exciting activities, including bilateral meetings and decelerations. The proactive presence of all regional heads of state and high-level dignitaries showed immense trust in the Uzbek leadership by the world. The summit was held in the majestic city, Samarkand, located in the heart of the Great Silk Road. It has served for millennia as the center of inter-civilizational dialogue, mutual cultural and spiritual enrichment, trade and scientific exchange. It is noteworthy that despite the pandemic and the difficult situation in the world, Uzbekistan has once again integrated the leaders of the vast expanse of Eurasia and has become the center of international politics and economics.
In recent years, the geo-economic and geopolitical importance of Uzbekistan has increased manifolds for three reasons. First, the effective policies and new constitutional reforms being proposed by President Mirziyoyev are significantly contributing to fostering peace. His unique conduct of statecraft, diplomacy and leadership practices have made him the most popular statesman. Under his tenure, the country has been experiencing prosperity and grand socio-economic transformation. Second, the narrative of ‘Reinvigorating Central-South Asian Regional Connectivity’ by President Shavkat has attained appreciation by the world.
Significant Proposals by President Shavkat at the Samarkand SCO Summit:
Presently, on the great occasion of the Summit, the President of Uzbekistan has presented important proposals for multilateral cooperation under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Following are the important ideas from his speech mentioned below:
- Formation of a common space for industrial and technological cooperation based on the launch of the New Economic Dialogue of the SCO.
- Hold a week of business partnership between the SCO regions in Uzbekistan
- Creation of the Alliance of Special Economic Zones of the SCO countries
- To hold the first meeting of the heads of administrations of the SCO special zones in Samarkand in 2023
- Holding on an annual basis a large trade fair of the SCO countries and creating on its basis a single electronic platform
- Development within the framework of the SCO of general principles and approaches to ensuring food security
- Holding the International Conference on Food Security in 2023
- With the support of the UN, create an interregional center for interconnectedness in Tashkent
- Holding the first SCO Transport Forum in 2023 in Uzbekistan
The future roadmap of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) depends on the above- mentioned proposals and the implementation of policies by Uzbekistan. The annual summit of the SCO has provided an opportunity to decipher the SCO’s potential in a new way and strengthen its role and significance with relevance to regional cooperation. Thus, SCO member states need to investigate further and devise such plans and strategies most appropriate for practical actions. This should also extend to people-to-people contacts involving academia, the private sector, and civil society, which can influence and assist the direction and effectiveness of intergovernmental cooperation. There is a long uphill journey for durable peace and common development in the region. Therefore, regional connectivity is a dire need of time. It can be anticipated that Uzbekistan, as part of its chairmanship, will successfully take on the challenges facing the organization and provide a plethora of opportunities for regional states to combat common challenges and strive for a shared future.
Key-takeaways of the SCO Summit:
Openness, inclusiveness and mutual learning are the defining features of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy. Moreover, interaction and interdependence are the general trends promoted by the country under the dynamic statesmanship of President Mirziyoyev. All the new developments, efforts, and events will modernize Uzbekistan to become more prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious. This regional rejuvenation will mark a brand new chapter for the Uzbek people in this crucial time of achieving important goals and future aspirations. With courage and determination, the leadership has succeeded in blazing a new trail from the unknown to the realms of freedom and unity. All its endeavors have advanced the cause of regional integration with a shared forward-looking spirit. Moreover, the presence of His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of China has been observed to add major value to the event. China has also been actively working to broader the horizon of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and engage with regional countries. China has always emphasized mutual learning and respect to tap into the trends of peace, cooperation, multi-polarity, economic globalization, and democracy in international relations.
Uzbekistan towards a Glorious Future:
In a new era of global economic governance, upholding multilateralism, pursuing shared growth through consultation and collaboration, forging close partnerships, and building a human community with a shared future has become inevitable trends. The Eurasian economies know this well and thus exploring more ways to promote inclusive development and enhance people-to-people contacts. But, in the face of global developments, it has been confronted with the need for adjustments in terms of both form and substance. As a concept, it needs to be more open and tolerant, in its orientation it needs to be more inclusive and better balanced, and its results need to be fairer, more just, and of broader benefit. Such progress can be achieved under Uzbekistan’s new proposals and SCO model. I believe that the 22nd SCO Heads of State summit has ushered into a new era of interregional harmony and cooperation vis-à-vis implementing potential projects and initiatives.