“Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”

Important goals set by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Uzbekistan hosted International conference under the title “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities” on 16th July. The conference, was organized at the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

In his welcoming speech, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized the historical closeness of the regions of Central and South Asia, and the importance of further strengthening the interrelations based on mutual trust, and consideration of interests.

In his speech, the President put forward important initiatives aimed at achieving these goals.

First. Our priority task is to create favorable conditions for the development of trade and economic ties and the growth of mutual investments.

A practical contribution to solving these issues would be the development and implementation of effective measures for the free movement of investments, goods and services, the formation of a developed system of transport communications and energy infrastructure.

Just as our common ancestors did, convening the Majlis and Kurultais, Loya Jirga, WasiMushavarat and Sabha, we propose an annual interregional forum to discuss topical issues of expanding the economic agenda of cooperation, deepening cooperation and investment interaction between our countries.

Recommendations and proposals developed within the framework of such a dialogue can be transformed into specific programs and projects aimed at creating new jobs, developing potential and ensuring sustainable growth of our economies.

Second. Creation of modern, efficient and safe transport and logistics infrastructure in Central and South Asia.

The TermezMazari-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway is intended to become a key element of the entire architecture of the interconnection of our regions, the construction project of which has already received wide support, including from leading international financial institutions.

The construction of this railway will make it possible to fully realize the transit potential of the two regions, form the shortest route, significantlyreduce the time and cost of transporting goods between South Asia and Europe through Central Asia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In addition, the project for the construction of the Trans-Afghan railway corridor in the future can connect our countries with China and other leading states of the Asia-Pacific region.

This is fully in line with the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Third. The introduction of digital platforms should become the locomotive of economic cooperation between the countries of Central and South Asia.

It is necessary to develop specific measures to implement digital connectivity – in the field of trade, transit and border crossing, to adopt a Joint Action Strategy.

It is important to involve leading experts from our countries, as well as specialized UN agencies in this work.

FourthA joint search for ways to ensure food security in our vast region.

Recently, there has been a rapid rise in prices for basic food products; in some regions of the world, the population is experiencing an acute shortage of them.

We propose, under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to hold a meeting of the ministers of agriculture of our countries to develop a Program to overcome these challenges.

Fifth. Consolidation of efforts in the fight against common challenges and threats to stability and security.

Together, we will be able to more effectively confront terrorism, extremism, transnational crime, including in cyberspace.

As a first step, we propose to develop a Joint Anti-Drug Action Plan with the participation of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Another important area in which it is necessary to coordinate efforts, we consider the fight against the threat of terrorism.

We are ready to organize a special expert meeting on these issues with the participation of representatives of the two regions.

This meeting could take place on the sidelines of the upcoming international conference in November this year in Tashkent dedicated to the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Joint Action Plan for the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia.

Sixth. Environmental issues and stimulation of “green” development require the closest attention.

All countries of Central and South Asia are experiencing rapid industrial and demographic growth amid global climate change.

Under these conditions, common problems are water scarcity, air and environmental pollution, soil degradation and desertification.

A sad consequence of the extremely negative impact of environmental challenges is the problem of the drying up of the Aral Sea, which is increasingly acquiring a planetary character.

We need to take all possible measures to mitigate its consequences, as well as prevent similar disasters in the future, relying on the experience of our ancestors, who strove to live in harmony with nature.

Seventh. We stand for a fuller disclosure of the unique tourism potential of Central and South Asia.

In this context, recognizable travel brands, new, affordable products and routes are needed, especially given the growing interest in pilgrim tourism, the widespread introduction of the concept of “Tourism in a new environment”, with the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.

We propose to develop, within the framework of the World Tourism Organization, a Program for Central and South Asia, which will be aimed at popularizing the historical and cultural heritage of our peoples.

Eighth. Expansion of scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges is one of the important conditions for strengthening friendship and trust.

In this regard, we propose to hold an international forum “Historical heritage of Central and South Asia” in Uzbekistan – in Termez under the auspices of UNESCO.

The implementation of joint programs in the field of education and science, culture and sports, with the wide involvement of young people, which makes up the majority of the population of our states, is acquiring priority importance.

Ninth. High achievements in the field of science, technology and innovation are an important factor in the accelerated development of our countries.

In this regard, we propose to introduce a facilitated visa regime for scientists and researchers, as well as create an online platform for cooperation between universities and research centers in Central and South Asia.

Tenth. Today, more than ever, it is important to develop thoughtful decisions based on a systematic study and analysis of development trends and the interconnectedness of our regions.

On the eve of our forum, the International Institute of Central Asia was opened.

We propose on the basis of this analytical center to create a permanent expert pool of prominent scientists and researchers from our countries to promote regional cooperation.

In addition, based on the results of today’s conference, I propose to develop and submit for consideration by the UN General Assembly a draft special resolution on strengthening the interconnection between Central and South Asia and in general in the Eurasian space as an important factor in stable and sustainable development.