The International Conference “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities” kicked off today in Tashkent.
The President of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Foreign ministers of the Central and South Asian countries, delegations from 44 countries and about 30 international organizations, heads of major research and analytical centers are attending the conference.
In his welcoming remarks, the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev spoke of the need for the revival of mutual ties in Central and South Asia, where about two billion people live today.
He noted that the conference has several prerequisites: the need to strengthen confidence and good-neighborliness of the states of Central and South Asia, the creation of stable trade, economic, transport and communication ties, ensuring security and stability, as well as support for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.
“Today Afghanistan is at a turning point in its modern history. We are confident that the wise Afghan people will show a willingness to compromise in order to achieve the national consensus. Comprehensive support by the international community for a political settlement of the conflict in the name of the long-awaited peace on Afghan soil is of fundamental importance. This will open up new prospects for the integration of Afghanistan into regional processes,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
The President of Uzbekistan, speaking at the conference, voiced on behalf of the country a number of proposals for cooperation in the Central and South Asia.
1. Holding an annual interregional forum to discuss topical issues of expanding the economic agenda of cooperation, deepening cooperation and investment interaction between 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,” the head of state said.
In addition, the President initiated a joint expert study of the issue of entering into a multilateral agreement on economic cooperation between the countries of the two regions.
2. Creation of modern, efficient and safe transport and logistics infrastructure in Central and South Asia.
According to Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Termez - Mazar-i-Sharif - Kabul - Peshawar railway could become a key element of the entire architecture of the interconnection of the two regions.
The construction of this railway will make it possible to fully tap the transit potential of the two regions, provide the shortest route, significantly reduce the time and cost of transporting goods between South Asia and Europe through Central Asia and the CIS countries, he said.
In addition, the Trans-Afghan railway corridor project in the future can connect the countries of the region with China and other leading states of the Asia-Pacific region, the president added.
3. Implementation of digital platforms.
“It is necessary to develop specific measures to implement digital interconnectivity - in the field of trade, transit and border crossing, to adopt a strategy of joint actions,” the head of Uzbekistan said.
4. Joint search for ways to ensure food security in the region.
"Recently, there has been a rapid rise in prices for basic foodstuffs, in some regions of the world the population is experiencing an acute shortage of them," Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized.
He proposed, under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to hold a meeting of agriculture ministers of the region to develop a program to overcome these challenges. This document, he said, should provide for joint development and research, the introduction of advanced technologies, the implementation of industrial cooperation projects.
5. Consolidation of efforts in the fight against common challenges and threats to stability and security.
“Together we will be able to more effectively resist terrorism, extremism, transnational crime, including in cyberspace,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
“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,” the President of Uzbekistan suggested.
Another important area in which it is necessary to coordinate efforts, Uzbekistan considers 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,” he suggested.
6. Environment and stimulation of "green" development.
All countries of Central and South Asia are experiencing rapid industrial and demographic growth amid global climate change, Shavkat Mirziyoyev said. Give nthis, common problems are water scarcity, air and environmental pollution, soil degradation and desertification.
“The sad consequence of the extremely negative impact of environmental challenges is the problem of the drying up of the Aral Sea, which is increasingly becoming a planetary one,” the President added and noted that it is necessary to take all possible measures to mitigate its consequences, as well as prevent similar disasters in the future.
7. Tapping the unique tourism potential of Central and South Asia.
“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 New Conditions, with the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev emphasized.
The head of Uzbekistan also proposed to develop a program for Central and South Asia within the framework of the World Tourism Organization, which will be aimed at popularizing the historical and cultural heritage of their countries.
8. Expansion of scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges.
The President of Uzbekistan proposed to hold an international forum "Historical heritage of Central and South Asia" in Termez under the auspices of UNESCO, as well as to create a permanent Youth Council of Central and South Asia for effective interaction on youth issues.
9. High achievements in science, technology and innovation.
“It is necessary to encourage joint research, development and innovation, the organization of scientific and educational internships, programs for the exchange of experience,” the President of Uzbekistan noted.
In this regard, Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed 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.
10. Developing solutions based on the analysis of development trends and interconnection of the two regions.
The President proposed on the basis of the International Institute of Central Asia, opened yesterday, to create a permanent international expert pool of prominent scientists and researchers to promote regional cooperation.
In addition, the head of state proposed, based on the outcomes of today's conference, to develop and submit for consideration by the UN General Assembly a draft special resolution on strengthening the interconnectivity between Central and South Asia and in general in the Eurasian space as a factor of stable and sustainable development.