OPENNESS AND TRUST UNDERLINED IN CENTRAL ASIA REGIONAL DIALOGUE
At a roundtable discussion in Tashkent on July 12, participants swapped comments and reflections on the recently adopted UN General Assembly resolution “Strengthening regional and international cooperation to ensure peace, stability and sustainable development in the Central Asian region”.
Representatives of the Senate and Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, other ministries and government agencies, chiefs of about 30 diplomatic missions of foreign countries took part in the event organized by the Institute of Strategic and Regional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the assistance of the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Uzbekistan. The discussion was attended by more than 25 regional and international organizations, as well as domestic and foreign journalists.
The roundtable highlighted the strategic role and significance of the adoption of the UN General Assembly special resolution on Central Asia initiated by the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in September 2017 in New York.
The participants of the event underscored in particular that the adoption of the special resolution of the UN General Assembly on Central Asia for the first time in the years of independent development of the region’s countries marked the dawn of a new milestone in the evolution of mutually advantageous cooperation. The document reflects reciprocated support for the initiatives of the Central Asian states, a significant practical contribution to bolstering regional security and providing for sustainable development.
In particular, the resolution reflected the results of the debate in the UN Security Council on Afghanistan in January 2018 during Kazakhstan’s chairmanship in the Council, as well as the regular holding of the World Nomadic Games in Kyrgyzstan. The results of the international conference on the problems of combating terrorism and extremism, held in Tajikistan in May 2018, are underlined. The region’s nations welcomed the holding of the summit meeting of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea in Turkmenistan in 2018. Support was expressed for Uzbekistan’s initiative on the annual consultative convention of leaders of Central Asian countries.
The event participants also noted the firm, unconditional support of the world community for the efforts of the Central Asian countries to enhance regional cooperation, which is one of the key factors of stability in the region’s states. In particular, 55 countries of Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa became co-authors of the document. All the leading partner countries of Central Asian nations, including Russia, China, the United States and those of the EU, participated actively in the consultation on the drafting of the document.
The participants of the roundtable discussion once again stressed that the UN resolution recognizes the important role of the Central Asian countries in ensuring sustainable development in the region, as well as in promoting regional and international cooperation.
Contributors to the deliberations in Tashkent exchanged views on the priority areas for cooperation in Central Asia, taking into account the adoption of the resolution. In particular, the need for further development of bilateral and regional cooperation in strengthening security and expanding trade and economic cooperation, creating a modern transport and transit system in the region, rational and integrated use of water and energy resources, mitigation of environmental and socio-economic consequences of the Aral crisis, deepening ties in the spheres of education, science and technology.
Particular attention is paid to the interaction of the Central Asian states aimed at promoting the peace process and socio-economic development in Afghanistan.
As a result of the discussions, the participants of the roundtable worked out concrete and practical proposals for furthering the mutually advantageous multifaceted cooperation among the countries of Central Asia.
What the forum participants have to say
Helena Fraser, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan:
– The UN General Assembly resolution on Central Asia is a unique document. It makes a significant practical contribution to cementing regional security and ensuring sustainable development. And I am proud to have witnessed its adoption.
The resolution illustrates support for Tashkent’s new regional policy based on the Strategy of Actions. It advocates transforming Central Asia into a stable, economically advanced and prosperous region, which at the same time will be a region of peace. And it finds a full understanding of all partners – from the countries of near and far abroad to prominent international organizations. A clear understanding has been formed in the world community that Uzbekistan’s current policy is aimed at complete realization of the country’s potential in the region without prejudice to anyone’s interests. Undoubtedly, the UN will readily support these noble initiatives. At the same time, we must understand that this is the starting point; there is a lot of work ahead on the way to stability and sustainable development in the region.
The United Nations is already supporting in practice all steps directed at establishing peace. In particular, we welcome the inclusion of Afghanistan in this process. I am glad that this country is becoming a key partner in the region. The international conference on Afghanistan held in Tashkent a few weeks ago was a breakthrough event in terms of establishing peace in that long-suffering country.
Now we are preparing for an international forum on human rights in Central Asia, due in Samarkand soon.
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 socio-economic 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.