July 16, 2021 406

The President of Uzbekistan made a speech at the international conference

On July 16, the "Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Threats and Opportunities" international conference has started.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev initiated the conference. The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, foreign ministers of Central and South Asia, delegations from 44 countries and about 30 international organizations, heads of leading foreign research centres are attending it.

The conference was opened by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. He spoke about the historical closeness between the Central and South Asian regions and its importance today based on mutual trust and interest.

Central and South Asia enriched each other's cultures from ancient times. Products, knowledge, crafts, and values ​​spread through the Great Silk Road and the Indo-Gangetic Road. Often these regions were also part of a unified state. The Bactrian and Kushan empires, the Turkish khanate, the Ghaznavid, Timurid and Baburid empires are clear examples.

Unfortunately, by the 19th century, such closeness and connection had eroded. Boundaries appeared, and various contradictions and mistrust replaced cooperation.

In his speech, the head of our state stressed the importance of renewing historical ties and the opportunity to unite efforts.

- Today, the world has entered an era of global geopolitical transformations, including threats and new opportunities. In this context, the renewal of ties between Central and South Asia, with more than 2 billion people, is becoming a more essential and objective process. I think, based on the vast historical, scientific, spiritual and cultural heritage of our peoples, the complementarity of economies, the availability of intellectual potential, it is high time to consolidate our joint efforts, which will undoubtedly give a powerful synergy effect,'' - says Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Indeed, peace, good neighbourliness and confidence-building, the development of cooperation, the establishment of an open and practical policy are in the interests of all Central and South Asian countries.

In his speech, the President put forward essential initiatives aimed at these goals.

The conference participants noted the priority importance of trade and economic cooperation. They proposed an annual interregional forum to discuss topical issues of expanding the economic agenda of alliance, deepening cooperation and investment interaction between the countries of the two regions.

The head of our state paid particular attention to the issue of building a transport and logistics infrastructure that would effectively and safely connect Central Asia and South Asia. The construction of the Termez-Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul-Peshawar railway will be an essential link in this architecture. It fully reveals the transit potential of the two regions, significantly reducing the distance and time of transportation. Therefore, this project is supported by the participating countries and international financial institutions.

It was noted that the digitization of trade, transit and customs processes, the need to adopt a joint action strategy in this regard.

The issue of food security is also becoming more urgent around the world. Therefore, the President held a meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of the region under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and proposed developing a joint program.

Participants also discussed measures to strengthen security and stability in the region, combat terrorism, extremism and cross-border crime.

They noted the importance of preserving the environment and developing a "green" economy.

The sides exchanged views on forming a single platform for tour operators to make full use of the tourism potential of Central and South Asia. They discussed the further development of tourism in the region with the participation of the World Tourism Organization.

It was noted that the increase in scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges plays a vital role in strengthening friendship and trust. In this regard, it was proposed to hold an international forum on the historical heritage of Central and South Asia in Termez under the auspices of UNESCO.

The head of our state also paid special attention to cooperation in science, technology and innovation. He stressed the importance of promoting joint research and experience exchange programs and introducing a simplified visa regime for scientists and researchers.

On the eve of the conference, the Central Asian International Institute was opened in Tashkent. Based on this analysis centre, the President proposed establishing a group of experts to develop regional cooperation.

"The historical and cultural commonality of Central and South Asia, the mutual interests of our countries and peoples are a solid foundation on which to build a common prosperous future. Together, we must have a clear approach to sustainable development prospects. We have a goal to make Central and South Asia and the whole Eurasian continent a stable, economically developed and prosperous area," said the President of Uzbekistan.

Then UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the conference participants with a video message.

President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Imran Khan, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell, spoke about the prospects for cooperation in the region and the importance of the forum.

The conference continues.

Conference participants will discuss opportunities and initiatives aimed at further strengthening regional ties in the trade-economic, transport-communication and cultural-humanitarian spheres at the plenary and branch meetings of the forum.

Following the conference, a special draft resolution will be prepared and submitted to the UN General Assembly for consideration.

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