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Presidency of Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
June 22, 2016, 11:46 am

During its presidency in SCO in 2015-2016 Uzbekistan strictly adhered to the principles of continuity and strengthening of mutually beneficial cooperation, which meets the interests of the SCO member states and continued ongoing systematic work to provide the steady growth of the Organization's credibility in the international arena.

During the period since the Ufa Summit considerable work has been carried out on further improving the SCO activities, deepening political, economic, humanitarian cooperation and security in the framework of Organization.

By joint efforts the member states are carrying out a consistent work within the SCO framework for strengthening and developing mutually beneficial multifaceted cooperation, especially in the sphere of counteraction to modern security challenges and threats. Particular attention is paid to the content of the agenda of forthcoming anniversary session of the SCO Heads of States Council, to be held in Tashkent on 23-24 June 2016.

Over the past year concrete results have been achieved in key areas of SCO activity, more than 50 different events at the ministerial and expert levels have been conducted. The most significant of them include the meeting of the SCO Heads of Governments Council (Chzhenchzhou, December 2015), the meeting of the Secretaries of Security Councils (Tashkent, April 2016), the meeting of the Foreign Ministers Council (Tashkent, May 2016), the Council of National Coordinators (Beijing, Tashkent, October 2015 - June 2016), the Council of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS, Tashkent, September 2015 and April 2016), the Ministers of Justice meeting (Dushanbe, August 2015), Prosecutors Generals meeting (Astana, August 2015), Chairmen’s of Supreme Courts meeting (Bishkek, September 2015), Ministers responsible for Economic and Trade Development (Xi'an, September 2015), the Heads of ministries and departments dealing with Emergency Management (Chendu, November 2015), SCO Forum (Dushanbe, April 2016).
On the eve of the SCO Tashkent summit the meeting of Ministers of Culture (Tashkent, June 21-22, 2016) and the meeting of the Board of the SCO Business Council and SCO Interbank Association Council (Tashkent, June 22-23, 2016) are foreseen.

1. Political and security cooperation

In the context of serious changes in the international and regional situation SCO has demonstrated itself as an important mechanism for multilateral cooperation aimed at an open partnership and strengthening of peace and stability. The solid legal base, well-established functioning institutional framework and stable SCO structural bodies provides a consistent expansion and deepening of political and security cooperation between its members.
On the initiative of Uzbekistan the mechanism of meetings of Secretaries of Security Councils was launched in 2004, which proved an effective institution of the SCO and became an integral part of its institutional system. Today this consultations are important to coordinate the efforts of member states in ensuring security and stability in the space covered by the SCO.

During the 11th meeting of Secretaries of Security Councils of the SCO member states on 13-14 April 2016 in Tashkent all participating parties exchanged views on the situation in the sphere of security and stability and contiguous to the Organization regions. It was another important step in the further development of cooperation and improvement of its mechanisms in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, illicit arms and drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, as well as ensuring international information security.

During the meeting the issues related to the preparation of the SCO Tashkent Summit have been discussed, the security related documents, which will be submitted to the approval of Heads of States, have been considered and reports of the SCO Secretary General and the Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS on the activities of the Organization in security sphere have been aired.

As part of this event the meeting of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov with the Heads of Delegations of the SCO member states, SCO Secretary General and Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Antiterrorist Structure took place.

After greeting the guests, President Karimov noted that on the eve of its fifteenth anniversary SCO has firmly established itself as a powerful and effective international organization. Its activities contribute to address the common challenges and to secure peace, stability and security, sustainable socio-economic development of all member states of the SCO.

The leader of Uzbekistan also noted the special role of the SCO Regional Antiterrorist Structure Executive Committee, which is successfully operating in Tashkent, in the development and implementation of practical decisions on issues of anticipation, suppression and neutralization of terrorism, separatism and extremism and other modern challenges and threats on the territory of the SCO member states.

On 23-24 May 2016 the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the SCO member states took place in Tashkent. In the process of preparation for the SCO summit the Council of Ministers discussed the current state and prospects of cooperation in various areas, enhancing the role and place of SCO in international and regional affairs. It was stressed that the SCO is based on the "Shanghai Spirit," which embodies mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity and a desire for common development.

Since establishment 15 years ago SCO has become one of the most influential participants in the modern system of international relationships.
The meeting stressed the need for greater involvement of SCO observer states as well as dialogue partners in practical cooperation within the Organization.

The Ministers reaffirmed that, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter and other fundamental documents of the SCO, joint elaboration and implementation of measures to fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism, illicit drug production and trafficking, transnational organized crime, crimes with the use of modern information technologies, illegal migration and trafficking in human beings will remain among the main priorities of cooperation within the Organization. The sides exchanged views on important regional and international issues, the main trends of their development and on strengthening security and stability in the region.

SCO member states confirmed their commitment to the consistent strengthening of the UN central coordinating role on global affairs, which should be based on international law, including the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. First of all, it concerns joint efforts to maintain stability and security in the world, the development of cooperation between states, strengthening independence, equality and to ensure the right to determine their own social system and path of development, mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful settlement of international disputes, non-use of force or threat of force.

Ministers exchanged views on the implementation of the outcome of the meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States on July 9-10, 2015 in the Russian city of Ufa. In this context, they stressed the importance of the adoption of the Action Plan for the implementation of the SCO Development Strategy up to 2025, which will be submitted for approval by the Council of Heads of SCO member states.

Ministers agreed on the main concluding document of the SCO summit - Tashkent Declaration on the fifteenth anniversary of the SCO as well as information message on the conclusions of the meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO member states and the Action Plan for the implementation of the SCO Development Strategy up to the year 2025. It was decided to submit to the Council of Heads of States the issue of signing memoranda of obligations of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in order to obtain the SCO member state status.

During the presidency of Uzbekistan the meetings of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Council have been successfully conducted in September 2015 and April 2016 in Tashkent.

As a result of these meetings the general approach to strengthen the SCO's position in the world was confirmed, which envisages excluding block and confrontational approaches to the solution of existing regional and international issues. There was common approach and similar estimates and opinions on topical international issues, the main trends of world development, the strengthening of stability and security in Central Asia, further enhancing the status of the SCO as an influential international structure and expanding its cooperation with key international organizations.

Through the SCO RATS, work on a draft Convention of the SCO to counter extremism has been carried out. The work on the implementation of the Anti-drug Strategy of the SCO Member States for 2011-2016 and the Action Programme for its implementation is continued as well as on the Agreement among the governments of SCO member states on cooperation in combating crime, signed in 2010 in Tashkent.

2. Cooperation in the field of economy and transport communications.
One of the key conditions for achieving program objectives and tasks of the SCO is further expansion and deepening of economic cooperation. SCO should provide a platform to enhance regional economic cooperation and create favorable conditions for trade and investment, modern high-tech industries and facilities.

Uzbekistan is steadily supporting further development of trade-economic ties, expanding mutual exchanges of industrial products, which are on demand in the SCO countries' markets, creation of favorable conditions to encourage trade, as well as the implementation of other measures in this area.

Uzbekistan relies on fundamental development of investment cooperation between the SCO countries, the implementation of mutually beneficial projects and programs in the priority sectors and areas of cooperation, especially in the high-tech sector, where there is a huge potential, which is used to date only to a small extent.

In this context, great importance is attached to fully use the capabilities of the Business Council and SCO Interbank Association. The Uzbek side supports the general view that it is important to present understanding to connect these structures to the implementation of specific investment projects within the Organization.

On 23-24 June this year Tashkent will host the Council meeting of the SCO Interbank Association and the Board of the SCO Business Council, during which it is planned to exchange views on enhancing the participation of business and financial circles of member states and observer states of the SCO in the trade-economic and investment cooperation, as well as discuss issues of financing the projects with a focus on infrastructure construction, basic industries, high-tech, export-oriented economy, the social projects in the SCO member countries.

During the meeting of Heads of Governments of the SCO member states under the Presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Zhengzhou, December 2015) and the Ministerial Meeting on economic and trade issues (Xi'an, September 2015.) the current state and prospects for further development of trade, economic, investment, financial, transport and communications and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO framework have been discussed.

Uzbekistan considers as strategic direction of cooperation within the framework of SCO the development of transport communications, a radical expansion of the huge transit potential of the countries of Central Asian region, the effective implementation of the Agreement between the governments of SCO member states on cooperation in creating favorable conditions for road transport dated 2014 and the Programme of cooperation between the customs services of the SCO member states for 2016-2021, adopted at the meeting of Heads of Governments in Zhengzhou.

First of all it is related to the projects on development of efficient transport and transit corridors, creation of favorable conditions for increasing the volume of freight traffic, expansion of the network of railways and roads, air links, as well as the establishment of a modern level of appropriate infrastructure that will transform our region into an important global transit transport and logistics center.

In October 2015 in Tashkent the ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the development of transit potential of the SCO member states took place. The participants exchanged information on the creation of favorable conditions and implementation of projects aimed at the development of international transit corridors and efficient transport and logistics infrastructure in the framework of the SCO. The experts agreed to accelerate the review of the SCO Road Development Program.

3. Cultural and humanitarian cooperation

Cultural and humanitarian cooperation is one of the key areas of cooperation within the SCO to strengthen and promote steady expansion of the social basis of friendship, good neighborhood relations and mutual understanding between the peoples of Member States of the SCO.

Cultural interaction of the SCO member states reached a new level and has acquired the legal status after signing on 16 August 2007 of the Agreement between the Governments of the SCO Member States on cooperation in the field of culture. There is established mechanism of annual meetings of SCO ministers of culture.

21 - 22 June this year Tashkent will host the next meeting of Culture Ministers of the SCO Member States. It is planned to discuss issues of cooperation in the field of culture and art, to exchange views on the implementation of the agreements reached during its last meeting.

Under the previous Presidency of Uzbekistan in the SCO in 2010 the mechanism of holding meetings of heads of ministries and departments of the SCO member states on science and technology has been launched. During the talks members discuss issues of multilateral scientific and technical cooperation and creating favorable conditions in the SCO area to promote science, new technologies and innovations.

In 2013 an Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation was signed. Currently the work on a draft list of activities for the development of project activities within the organization for the 2017-2021 years is underway.

The SCO has also paid great attention to cooperation in the field of public health. Practical cooperation in this field is carried out at the expert level as well as senior officials from the ministries of health and heads of sanitary and epidemiological services.

In June 2011 the Agreement on cooperation in health care was signed, which envisages the assistance by members to each other with regard to infectious disease prevention and control, safety and quality of drugs and medical devices, information systems on health issues and telemedicine, as well as in other sectors. In November 2013 the Program on informing about the epidemiological situation with regard to infectious diseases on the territory of SCO member states has been adopted in Tashkent.

At the upcoming SCO summit the heads of relevant ministries and departments will sign a Program for the development of cooperation of the SCO member states in the sphere of tourism, which shall ensure the development of bilateral and multilateral mutually beneficial cooperation in this field on the basis of cultural and historical links between SCO countries.

An important area of humanitarian relations is cooperation in preventing emergency situations. Cooperation in this field was launched in July 2005 with the signing of the Agreement between the SCO member states for assistance in case of emergency situation.

An important consultation mechanism is the meeting of heads of departments involved in the prevention andelimination of natural and technology-related disasters. The last meeting was held in November 2015 in the city of Chengdu (China).

During that meeting Uzbekistan has taken the initiative to establish interaction in mitigating the effects of the Aral Sea disaster, joint monitoring of the mountainous regions of Central Asia and combating with pests. Common efforts in these areas will be an effective factor in maintaining stability and security and creating favorable conditions for the expansion of the partnership between the member states in the field of emergency management in the SCO area.

4. Expansion of the SCO.

In 2015 during the Ufa summit of the SCO Uzbekistan along with other member states supported the beginning of the accession process of India and Pakistan to the SCO as a full members.

Taking into account important and irreplaceable role of India and Pakistan in strengthening regional stability and security, Uzbekistan in the framework of its Presidency of the SCO has paid great attention to the implementation of the agreements reached by the Heads of States of the Organization. To this end, the Uzbek side has worked out and submitted to the SCO Action Plan (Roadmap) for the provision of India and Pakistan's full membership in the SCO, which included specific actions to be taken within the Organization.

In accordance with this Plan a lot of thorough work has been carried out. As a result it is expected that in the framework of the SCO Tashkent summit the Memorandum on the obligations of the Indian and Pakistani sides to acquire the SCO member status will be signed, which is an important step in the process of accession of India and Pakistan to the Organization.

Within the framework of Uzbekistan's Presidency in September 2015 Memoranda of granting the dialogue partner status with Cambodia was signed. In March-April 2016 relevant memorandums with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nepal have been also signed.

5. On documents of the SCO summit.

The signing and adoption of the following documents at the end of the SCO summit are on the table (at the level of Heads of State - 8, the Heads of ministries and departments - 3):

Tashkent declaration of 15th anniversary of SCO - the main document of the forthcoming summit, which contains an assessment of 15 years of activity of the SCO, a concerted approach of the Member States to the prospects of development of the Organization, as well as position of the SCO on current international and regional situation, and solving urgent security issues.

Action Plan for 2016-2020 on implementing the SCO's development strategy until 2025. The document includes specific measures (total 74) on the realization of the adopted Strategy at the meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of States in 2015 on main areas of cooperation between the SCO member states in the field of security, political, economic, cultural, humanitarian, information and international spheres.

Decision of SCO summit on the signing the memorandums on the obligations of India and Pakistan in order to acquire the SCO member state status. The document entrusted the Secretary-General of the SCO to sign a Memorandum with the authorized representatives of the Member States, India and Pakistan.

The decisions on approval of reports of the SCO Secretary-General on its activity over the past year and the SCO RATS Council on activity of RATS in 2015. Documents have an information-reporting nature and prepared on an annual basis, approved by the Council of Foreign Ministers and the SCO RATS Council, respectively.

Decision on the dates for the SCO Council of Heads of States meetings. The document provides the continuation of the practice of holding annual meetings of  the Council of Heads of SCO Member States in the month of June annually at the period of celebration of the SCO Day (15 June).

Information report on results of the meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO member states. The document lists the participants in the summit, documents to be approved at the meeting of the Council of Heads of States, refers main activities undertaken during the Presidency of Uzbekistan, and reflects the work in key areas of political, economic and humanitarian cooperation. It is also briefly fixed common position of the parties on international issues.

The Memorandum on the obligations of the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in order to acquire the SCO member state status. The documents define the terms of accession of India and Pakistan to the international treaties of the SCO and their assessed contributions to the budget of the SCO, as well as the number of staff positions in the SCO permanent bodies, assigned to the Indian and Pakistani sides.

The Program for the Development of Cooperation of the SCO member states in the field of tourism. The document includes provisions for the expansion and development of equal and mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of tourism, based on the existing cultural, historical and economic ties in the interests of the intensification of tourist exchanges.


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