Dear heads of delegations! Dear Secretary General! Summit participants!
I am very glad to see you at the next summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization.
Welcome to Uzbekistan!
The current summit is a clear confirmation of our determination to expand comprehensive cooperation on the path of common development.
Today, before our eyes, the political architecture of the world is radically changing and its global transformation is taking place.
It is important that the states of our Organization, which have great influence in these complex processes, act unitedly and harmoniously, and jointly search for effective responses to emerging threats and challenges.
During the summit, held under the motto “Together for economic stability and development,” together with you, dear colleagues, we will thoroughly exchange views on the most pressing issues and take our multifaceted ties to a new level.
I express my special gratitude to you for your participation in today’s event and your enormous contribution to the development of our mutually beneficial relations.
Taking this opportunity, I sincerely congratulate the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, respected Ilham Heydarovich Aliyev, on his successful chairmanship of the organization.
The activities and initiatives implemented within the framework of Azerbaijan’s chairmanship in the year of the “Green Transition and Mutual Connections” were a great contribution to the expansion of our practical partnership.
We fully support the plans and goals to further deepen cooperation through the development of regional trade of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which will assume the chairmanship of our organization next year.
Dear summit participants!
Exactly two years ago, we successfully held the 15th summit of the organization in Ashgabat. Important decisions taken at the meeting in Turkmenistan brought new breath into the activities of the structure.
Systematic work is being carried out to reform and increase the effectiveness of the Organization and increase its authority in the international arena. In particular, I would like to highlight the importance of the Tashkent Declaration adopted by the ministers of transport.
Practical measures are being implemented to organize a Clean Energy Center and a Regional Electricity Market in the city of Baku. A high-level dialogue platform has also been created in the field of ecology. In order to further expand cooperation in the field of tourism, a network of tour operators of the organization was formed for the first time and a Program for the Development of Safe Tourism was approved.
Dear heads of delegations!
The members of our organization are inextricably linked by a common history and the sacred religion of Islam, rich culture and similar values.
Our vast region with a population of half a billion has enormous potential for developing ties in trade, economic, industrial, investment, innovation and transport.
As the analysis shows, despite the global crisis, our economies are demonstrating sustainable rates of development.
You all know that in recent years, Uzbekistan has been rapidly implementing reforms that have become irreversible. The main focus is on liberalizing the economy and further improving the standard of living and well-being of the people.
In New Uzbekistan, over the past six years, the volume of gross domestic product has increased 1.5 times. By 2030, we plan to double this economic indicator. It is planned to achieve this goal primarily through the creation of a “green” economy, modern infrastructure, new jobs, stimulation of the private sector and active attraction of foreign direct investment.
In this regard, we are ready to work effectively with all members of our organization, which has great authority in the international arena. Because the economies of our countries – close and good neighbors – can complement each other. Our states are connected by common trade and transport corridors and energy networks. Thanks to the joint search for new “points of growth” in the future, we will definitely achieve even more significant results.
Dear participants of the meeting!
Uzbekistan supports summing up the implementation of “Prospects – 2025” – the main document of the organization. We believe that the time has come, based on an in-depth analysis of our large, not yet fully exploited capabilities, to develop a conceptual document “Strategic Goals of Economic Cooperation – 2035”, which will determine the priority areas of our organization.
This important document requires attention to the following main areas.
First. Stimulating mutual trade.
Last year, trade between our countries amounted to $85 billion. This is only 8 percent of the total foreign trade of the member states of the organization. Unfortunately, many years of attempts to conclude a preferential trade agreement have not produced the expected results. There are still many restrictions and challenges in achieving seamless trade.
We must openly admit this in order to take a fresh look at the situation and change it for the better. In this regard, I urge you to accept the Agreement on Trade Facilitation within the framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization, developed by our experts.
This document pays special attention to facilitating trade in goods and services, preventing technical and non-tariff barriers, digitalization of customs, phytosanitary and veterinary rules, and the development of e-commerce. According to preliminary calculations, these measures may allow us to achieve at least a twofold increase in mutual trade volumes by 2035.
Second. Strengthening transport and communication interconnectedness.
Most member states do not have direct access to the sea. At the same time, we must take full advantage of the potential of transcontinental transport corridors connecting to major markets in the Asia-Pacific region, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe and passing through our territories.
The launch of multimodal corridors along the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan route and the Trans-Afghan Road in the future is in the interests of all member states.
I urge other members to join the document adopted on November 2 in Tashkent at a meeting of transport ministers on the development of the transport corridor Uzbekistan – Turkmenistan – Iran – Turkey, and optimization of mutual tariffs and fees.
It should be noted that Uzbekistan has carried out digitalization of cargo transportation data with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and similar projects are being implemented with other countries.
In order to widely implement and effectively coordinate such modern systems, I propose an initiative to create a Digital Transport and Customs office of the organization in the city of Tashkent.
Third. Activation of industrial cooperation, business contacts and the formation of industrial hubs.
We have developed and submitted to the Secretariat of the organization a Program of Joint Actions to increase the flow and protect mutual investments and deepen industrial cooperation. This document outlines the goal of promoting new joint projects in the fields of chemistry, energy, geology, textiles, leather and footwear, food, pharmaceutical and construction industries. In this direction, we advocate expanding partnerships with the Bank for Trade and Organizational Development.
The fifth business forum, held yesterday in Tashkent with the participation of heads of chambers of commerce and industry and numerous companies, clearly demonstrated the great potential of our private sector. We are initiating the creation of an Interregional Industrial Exhibition within the Organization and the holding of its first event in 2024 in our country.
Fourth. Guaranteed energy security.
The importance of harmonizing national energy strategies, developing interregional energy transmission networks, and widespread introduction of green energy technologies is increasing.
We are carrying out large-scale work to develop renewable energy sources as one of the main directions of our organization’s cooperation strategy in the energy sector. We have set a goal by 2030 to create renewable energy sources with a capacity of 25 gigawatts and increase their share in our balance to 40 percent. This year alone we are launching large wind and solar power plants with a capacity of 2 gigawatts. We are also taking our first steps in the production of “green hydrogen”. We are ready for an open dialogue and exchange of experience in these areas with all states.
In order to discuss in detail issues of cooperation and work on a systematic basis, we propose to establish a separate Council of Energy Ministers within the organization.
Fifth. Strengthening ties to combat climate change and protect the environment.
Our states are currently facing the dire consequences of these pressing issues. Processes such as melting glaciers, water scarcity, desertification, dust storms, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity are of serious concern.
I express my gratitude for the support of our idea to create a High-Level Platform on Environmental Issues within the organization. We are ready to hold the first conference of the platform as part of the upcoming Samarkand Climate Forum in 2024.
We also call for the active participation of your representatives in the meeting of the Committee to Review the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which will be held in our country this coming week. In order to combat dust and sand storms, which now pose an increasingly serious problem, we urge support for the Samarkand Declaration.
Sixth. Strengthening cooperation in the field of tourism.
The recently held session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in Samarkand with the participation of more than 140 states became a historical event that attracted the attention of the whole world to the tourism potential of our region.
Currently, in the organization’s space there are about 90 monuments included in the UNESCO World Heritage List; our countries are visited annually by about 80 million foreign tourists. Considering the growing popularity of cross-border destinations, I propose to introduce joint tourist routes and increase common tourism programs under the “Silk Road” brand.
I would like to make a proposal to create a separate Advisory Committee on Tourism under the Secretariat of our organization, consisting of tourism administrations and leading experts from member countries. We are ready to hold its first meeting next year in the city of Shakhrisabz, declared the tourist capital of our organization.
We also urge member states to effectively use the opportunities of the International Academy of Tourism of the World Tourism Organization, opened in Samarkand.
Seventh. Further rapprochement of our friendly peoples through deepening cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
The annual holding of alternate weeks of culture, art and cinema in our countries, the establishment of youth creative festivals and an innovative cooperation platform, and strengthening interaction in fundamental scientific areas will give a strong impetus to the development of our ties.
Dear summit participants!
The Palestinian-Israeli war in the Middle East, which poses a serious global threat to peace and security, is of great concern to all of us. Unfortunately, the victims of the bloody conflict are primarily numerous members of the civilian population, especially women, children and the elderly. The threat of war spreading throughout the region is becoming increasingly real.
We must not allow this confrontation to turn into a large-scale conflict. We call on the parties to immediately cease hostilities, begin peaceful negotiations, and achieve a reasonable compromise.
Once again, we express our firm position – the people of Palestine have the right to create their own independent state, which is confirmed by the resolutions of the United Nations.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that today’s summit is taking place without the participation of Afghanistan, one of the members of our organization.
We cannot allow the multi-ethnic people of Afghanistan, who have been our closest neighbors for centuries, to be left alone with the current complex problems. The active involvement of this country in regional integration processes is an indispensable and necessary condition for our sustainable development.
I urge all of you to increase humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, and to solve the acute socio-economic problems in this country on the basis of collective responsibility and acceptable mechanisms.
In conclusion, I would like to especially note that today’s historic summit and its results will serve to further establish our organization as an effective and efficient structure, bringing our multifaceted partnership to new frontiers.
Thank you for attention. /// nCa 10 November 2023
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