The 22nd Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was held in Samarkand, 15-16 September. The 22nd summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was held in Samarkand, a city that has long been a centre for interethnic dialogue, spiritual and cultural cooperation, as well as trade, scientific and economic exchanges. This event attracted attention from all over the world. The Uzbek statehood was emphasized and its historical potential was written Kahramon KURANBAYEV (Doctor of Political Sciences) and Professor Otabek HASANOV (Doctor in Political Sciences).
The world is facing complex situations, and diplomacy is becoming less effective. The SCO emerges as an efficient and practical mechanism of cooperation that is not dependent on politics and does not create conflict.
The SCO, under the leadership of Uzbekistan has evolved into a multifaceted organization of cooperation, mutual trust, and free dialogue. It is now rediscovering its full potential. The open and constructive diplomacy displayed by New Uzbekistan has also been able demonstrate its capabilities at a large regional scale.
The conference was held as a dialogue for the first times in three years since the outbreak of the pandemic. It was attended by leaders from 14 countries, Qatari, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian high-ranking officials, as well as heads of regional and international organisations.
Summit participants emphasized that the SCO’s membership has been growing and that partnership relations are developing. The memorandum on Iran’s obligations as a full-fledged member of SCO, as well as the memorandums granting Qatar and Egypt the status of partners in dialogue, are evidence of this expanding scope of cooperation.
It was also decided to initiate the process for granting Belarus the full-fledged membership status, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Kuwait, the Republic of Maldives. The United Arab Emirates, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of Maldives and the Republic of Maldives the status of partners in dialogue with the SCO.
In his speech to the summit, President Shavkat mirziyoyev presented a series of urgent and important initiatives. The members of the organisation unanimously supported his proposal to begin drafting the SCO’s development strategy until 2040, especially since it was based on the principle “Shanghai spirit” as well as the current international environment. This is because the document encompasses all aspects of multifaceted cooperation, and outlines priority areas for the SCO’s long term development.
Uzbekistan’s Chairmanship Period: An indication of the SCO’s success
Uzbekistan assumed the presidency of the SCO on 17 September 2021. The time that our country was elected chairman of the organisation coincided perfectly with the severe effects of the pandemic. It also coincided with times of high uncertainty and intensified geopolitical conflicts and contradictions. Experts and specialists believed that Uzbekistan’s chairship at the SCO was a mere formality, or “just for fun of it”, and made pessimistic forecasts about this.
Uzbekistan didn’t make any declarations on that day. Instead, it began to take clearly defined actions under the circumstances of an extremely complex historical period. For the new era of opportunities, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev created new “Roadmaps”. As a strategic task, the issue of developing cooperation that is based on constructive dialogue and trust was identified.
More than 80 events were held successfully and more than 30 documents were approved by heads of relevant ministries to implement the priority tasks set out by President Shavkat Miyoyev in the framework of SCO chairmanship.
Important events related to industrial development, information security and gender issues were organized for the first time under the auspices Uzbekistan. The first forum for women entrepreneurs was a great way to bring together women in business circles from the member countries and help them discover their potential. However, the scientific-expert forum on information security of the SCO determined “anchor points” based upon the common fight against modern threats and challenges.
The fourth industrial revolution is now underway in the world. The SCO countries realize that it is crucial to support young entrepreneurs and assist them in realizing their ideas. The SCO youth hosted the first ever cyber-sports championships as well as the competition for start-up projects.
Not only were practical meetings held in Tashkent but also in other parts of the country. Meetings of the council of SCO national coordinators took place in Nukus and Bukhara. A conference on poverty reduction took place in Bukhara and Khiva. There, cooperation plans were reviewed and issues that need to be addressed were clarified.
It is clear that the Inter-regional Trade Development Plan and the SCO Strategy to Develop Transport Dependence as well as the Infrastructure Development Programmes have opened a new era of strengthening cooperation. Uzbekistan supported efforts to focus on the efficient use of the transport potential in the SCO region, and to identify it among the key strategic tasks. For these purposes, the construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan and Termez-Mazar-i-Shariff-Kabul-Peshawar railway lines, which are of special strategic importance in the geoeconomic situation, creates a historical opportunity to provide the Central Asian countries with a short route to the world markets.
Uzbekistan’s presidency was able enrich the content of the SCO development strategy through cooperation. International experts claim that Uzbekistan is the most entrepreneurial country in SCO history. Many international documents were reached in one year. At the Samarkand summit, 44 documents, including blueprints, plans, and other decisions, were approved. This is an unprecedented figure in the history of the organization.
A forum for specific proposals and practical actions
Unlike other summits around the globe, the SCO’s Samarkand Summit has become a place where practical solutions to problems are found. This can be seen in the ideas and initiatives that it has presented. These initiatives align with the interests and goals of the SCO’s “big brother” in terms peace and sustainable development.
These are the exact types of initiatives that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken. These proposals, which include forming a common space for industrial and technological cooperation, hosting an international conference about food security, supporting benefit railway corridors and setting up an SCO council on climate change, taking comprehensive practical steps to prevent young people being involved in extremist organizations, creating a platform to combat cybercrime, establishing a special account to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and declaring next Year as the “Year to develop tourism in the SCO Space”, are in accordance with the SCO principles and goals.
As part of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s efforts to create a common space in industrial and technological cooperation, Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi emphasized the need for reliable supply chains and mutual transit in order to meet energy and food shortages. To share India’s experiences in the development of start-ups, a proposal was made for a working group to be established for SCO start ups.
At the Council of the Heads of the SCO members states meeting, Kazakh President KasymZhomart Tokayev stated that the current difference was the acute lack of mutual trust. This is due to the absence of contradictions or division into blocs within the SCO ideas. With each passing year, the organisation’s reputation has increased and its geography expanded. It was also suggested to strengthen cooperation between the SCO member countries’ defense bodies and their security services.
President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping stressed that the world is in a turbulent state and it was important to strengthen unity and transform the SCO into a community that shares a common destiny. It was emphasized that the SCO needed to increase mutual support and cooperation in the area of security, as well as counter any attempts by foreign forces to interfere with the internal affairs of SCO member countries. In order to increase practical cooperation, proposals were made for the establishment of a SCO-SCO development bank and a China SCO cooperation center in the field “big data”.
The speech by Sadyr Japarov , the Kyrgyz President, was a reminder that the SCO is an example in coexistence between countries with different cultural or humanitarian traditions. This makes it an attractive organization for many countries who wish to join. President of Kyrgyz Republic, Sadyr Japarov, proposed the opening in Bishkek of an international center for combating crime.
Shehbaz Sharif, the Pakistani Prime Minister, noted that peace in Afghanistan also impacts Afghanistan’s situation and demanded the lifting of restrictions on Afghan assets. He expressed gratitude to the SCO for their assistance to Pakistan after the floods and said that he had never seen such a tragedy in his 40-years of public administration.
President Shavkat Miziyoyev’s appeal to the international community to help Pakistan is a reminder that this organization can be a place of practical steps.
Russian President Vladimir Putin observed that new power centers, which cooperate in accordance with international law and UN Charter principles, had emerged in global politics and economy. He focused on the organisation’s priorities – fighting terrorist and extremism and drug trafficking, resolving Afghanistan’s issue through diplomatic and political means, as well as developing trade and investment relationships. He proposed to develop cooperation in the cultural, humanitarian and sports spheres.
In his speech, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon also addressed the issues raised at Samarkand. To combat the flow of narcotics to Afghanistan, the Tajik president proposed that a special SCO anti-drug body is established. At the Samarkand summit, heads of state were also invited to discuss the challenges facing their countries as well as the potential outcomes and cooperation with the SCO.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka , the Belarusian President, stressed that the “Shanghai Spirit”, was capable of forming the foundation for a new global architecture. He also noted that cooperation with the SCO is possible in the areas of industry, artificial Intelligence, green economy, peaceful nuclear power, elimination unreasonable trade barriers, and the banking system. A proposal was also made to host SCO summer and winter sport competitions in 2024, 2026. Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated that “unexpectedly” the SCO was becoming a global organisation. This is an opportunity that should not be missed.
Ebrahim Raisi, president of Islamic Republic of Iran said that it was vital to build cooperation within the SCO in the areas of trade, banking, and communication infrastructure. Iran, through its membership in this organization, he stated that it was working to become a center of a more fair world based upon cooperation.
Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh , the President of Mongolia, stated that his country will continue to cooperate with the SCO. He also noted that it is available to implement large projects in areas such as trade, investment and energy, transport and logistics and tourism.
Turkish President Recep TAYYIP Erdogan emphasized that Turkey has historical ties to Central Asia, and that the initiative was taken in 2019 to restore those historical ties. He stated that Turkey would support any initiative to expand cooperation with the SCO in security and ensuring security of food supply chain security.
Ilham Aliyev , President of Azerbaijani, emphasized the country’s transit potential. He spoke out about the development of the country’s transportation and communication infrastructure, and he stated that transit from Azerbaijan has increased by 50% over the past seven months. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of the SCO, stated that Azerbaijan is interested in cooperating with the SCO in the areas of communication and transport as well as trade.
President of Turkmen Serdar Berdimuhamedov stated that he is open to establishing multifaceted relations with SCO in politics and trade as well as in humanitarian and cultural spheres. He also expressed his willingness to take part in the construction and operation of transit roads.
SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming reiterated that it was important to strengthen solidarity, mutual assistance and take active steps in the face of global-scale changes.
Ruslan Mirzayev, Director of the SCO’s Region Anti-Terrorism Framework, stated that 40 terrorist attacks were prevented and more than 1,400 crimes were prevented in 2021. He noted that the joint fight against international terrorist acts was being carried out successfully and reiterated the need for a collective approach to counter threats.
A UN under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, noted that it was important for the UN to develop effective multilateral cooperation with regional and subregional organisations. According to her, the SCO is currently the best platform in Eurasia for discussing regional security and peace concerns. They are also cooperating in fighting extremism, terrorism.
The Samarkand Declaration was adopted at the SCO summit. The summit’s main document reflected the shared approaches of all sides to intensifying cooperation, ensuring regional stability and security, as well as economic growth, increasing transport dependence, and strengthening cultural dialog.
The Uzbek side proposed a Samarkand solidarity project for common security, prosperity to maintain the pace and new trends in the development of SCO in Samarkand. It was unanimously approved.
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Openly, it can be said that the Samarkand summit was an exceptional example of the establishment of a new inclusive dialogue, based on mutual respect, trust, and constructive cooperation for common security and development. The Uzbek diplomatic system has seen a new, improved quality in recent years. This has made the state’s international image more positive or less.
The President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been able to implement the SCO state initiatives and Uzbekistan’s success as the chairman. Uzbekistan was able to fulfill its historic mission to achieve its goals efficiently and in a timely manner. Solid foundations were laid for security and multifaceted cooperation at a new level of quality and sustainable development. The SCO remained true to its principles and did not allow itself to be turned into a political or military bloc.
It is also true that documents and decisions from the Samarkand summit, as well as President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s initiatives, have helped to raise the organization’s profile and ensure regional and global security to support the development and prosperity in our countries and peoples.
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