AsiaCentral AsiaUzbekistan

Uzbekistan – SCO: cooperation for peace and stability, development and prosperity

18scoOn the eve of its sixteenth anniversary, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has firmly established itself on the world scene as a reputable interstate structure. It has established itself as an effective mechanism of multilateral cooperation in the context of major changes in the international and regional situation. A solid legal basis, institutional framework have been established, structural bodies are stably operating, consistent expansion and deepening of cooperation in different directions has been provided over the past years.

Uzbekistan in its foreign policy strategy attaches great importance to the SCO, which is a platform for open and constructive dialogue, and is one of the founding states of the Organization, has been actively involved in its activities. The Uzbek side considers the SCO as an important tool for cooperation against terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking and weapons, organized crime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting mutually beneficial economic ties, partnership in social, cultural and humanitarian spheres.

The effectiveness of cooperation in the field of security within the SCO is of particular note. Mechanisms for regular meetings at various levels are set up and a solid legal framework regulating the interaction of member states in ensuring peace and stability in the region is developed for these proposes. At the initiative of Uzbekistan the mechanism of meetings of secretaries of SCO members’ security councils was launched in 2004. These meetings are held on an annual basis.

The Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS), the Executive Committee of which is located in Tashkent, plays a special role in the issues of strengthening peace and tranquility. Its main purpose is to promote coordination and cooperation of member states in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Within the framework of its presidency in the SCO in 2004 and 2010, Uzbekistan has put forward a number of important initiatives on strengthening the coordination of member states’ policies in the face of traditional and new threats of today. Thus, an agreement on cooperation in combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors and an agreement on cooperation in combating crime were signed on the initiative of Uzbekistan in 2004 and 2010 accordingly.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a factor in the promotion of mutually beneficial economic exchange between the member states. Long-term programs are taken and successfully put into practice, intergovernmental agreements and arrangements are concluded in this direction.

The main bodies responsible for the development of trade and economic cooperation are the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the member sates (CHG) and the Meeting of Ministers of the SCO member states, which responsible for foreign economic and trade activities. Uzbekistan chaired the structures in 2007 and 2013. It was decided to intensify relations in the areas of investment, information and communication technologies, agriculture, and environmental protection during the Heads of Government’s meeting in 2007 in Tashkent. Following the negotiations, an agreement between the governments of SCO member states on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters was signed.

In addition, special attention is paid to full support of direct business contacts, strengthen cooperation in such sectors as transport, infrastructure, banking and financial sector. Expansion of relations in these areas contributes to the activity of SCO Business Council and SCO Interbank Association.

In order to stimulate trade and investment links, work on the opening of the Development Bank and Development Fund (Special Account) SCO is being conducted. In 2015, it decided to continue consultations on these structures’ establishment.

Cultural and humanitarian ties show positive dynamics. The exchange in the fields of science, technology, tourism, health care, prevention and liquidation of emergency situations is being done.

The Program of informing on epidemiological situation caused by infectious diseases on the territory of SCO member states is adopted on November 29, 2013 in Tashkent. This year is expected to approve the Program of cooperation in the tourism sector, which is conducted at the expert level.

The Republic of Uzbekistan has been chairing in it from July 11, 2015 according to the norms and rules of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Uzbekistan as the state-chairman has clearly outlined the priorities of its vision of the SCO with announcement of its commitment to the principles of continuity and a consistent strengthening of multidisciplinary cooperation.

Based on these postulates, Uzbekistan together with other SCO countries has done considerable scale work to further strengthen the Organization’s capacity in addressing global and regional issues, strengthen coordination and cooperation, and enhance its role on the world stage over the past period.

As a result of Uzbekistan’s efforts, more and more countries are showing interest in the SCO and express a desire to establish a partnership with it. Thus, a memorandum on granting the Kingdom of Cambodia dialogue partner status was signed in September 2015. Such status is granted to Azerbaijan on March 14 of a current year. It is planned to sign a similar document with Armenia and Nepal. Negotiations on taking the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan – the two largest countries in South Asia in the SCO are continuing.

The Council of Heads of State meeting, the Foreign Ministers Council meeting of Secretaries of Security Councils, the Meeting of Ministers of Culture and the Council of Interbank Association meeting and the Board of the SCO Business Council are planed to be held in Tashkent under the presidency of Uzbekistan in 2016.

The country is currently preparing to hold these events at a high level. Particular attention is paid to the content filling of the Tashkent summit, including the development of a package of documents that will be adopted on its results. The signing of the SCO fifteenth anniversary Tashkent declaration, Draft of the anti-drug strategy of the SCO member states for the years 2017-2022 and the Programme of action for its implementation are expected. In addition, the adoption of the Plan of measures on realization of the agreement on cooperation in combating crime is planned, as well as the Plan of Implementation of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025.

Thus, the Republic of Uzbekistan, being the chairman of the SCO, contributes greatly to its development, strengthening of the regulatory framework, enhancing the structure’s prestige in the world. No doubt that the upcoming Tashkent summit, held in the fifteenth anniversary of the SCO founding, will not only become a central political event of the year, but also open a new page in the Organization’s history.

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