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SCO is all about spirit of friendship and cooperation

By Nilufar Doniyorkhodjaeva | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-29 07:14
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Addressing the 22nd Meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Samarkand on Sept 15, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said: "During our chairmanship, we (have) sought to intensify practical cooperation within our organization to increase its potential and international prestige. Along with security issues, priority was given to enhancing trade, economic, and humanitarian cooperation."

SCO countries account for half of the world's population and at least 25 percent of the world's GDP. During the meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, leaders discussed issues such as trade, connectivity, food security, sustainable development, people-to-people exchanges. Their discussions were focused on finding ways to overcome global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the sidelines of the SCO summit, the Uzbek and Chinese sides signed agreements worth $15 billion, and Chinese President Xi Jinping became the first foreign leader to get Uzbekistan's "Supreme Friendship" Medal. Also, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China signed a historic tripartite agreement on a feasibility study on a railway project.

Mirziyoyev, on his part, discussed the "Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Iran" transport corridor with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, and the two sides signed 18 bilateral documents covering fields such as trade, tourism, science and technology, agriculture, oil and gas, and cargo transit through Iran's Chabahar Port.

Logistics was the subject of Mirziyoyev's discussion with Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, too, with the two sides noting the importance of expediting the trans-Afghan railway project.

And Mirziyoyev and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon discussed energy cooperation and the progress of the Yavan Hydropower Plant, which Uzbekistan is building across the Zarafshan River in Tajikistan. Similarly, the Uzbek and Kyrgyz leaders discussed the construction of the Kambarata-1 Hydropower Plant.

During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Uzbek president was bestowed with Russia's Order of Alexander Nevsky. And the two sides signed a declaration on a comprehensive strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and Russia, and reportedly inked new investment agreements worth $4.6 billion.

These developments show the SCO is not a bloc but an organization that promotes multifaceted cooperation, and does not pursue any geopolitical goals or target a specific country. These principles are clearly spelt out in its charter — and were included in the final document of the summit, the Samarkand Declaration.

"Member states reaffirm that the SCO is not directed against other states and international organizations and is open to broad cooperation with them following the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the SCO Charter, and international law, based on consideration of mutual interests and commonality of approaches to solving regional and global problems," reads the document.
The SCO is also against interfering in the internal affairs of any country on the pretext of fighting terrorism, spreading democracy or protecting human rights, which too has been reiterated in the document.

However, the document says "member states expressed deep concern over the threat to security posed by terrorism, separatism, and extremism in all its forms and manifestations, and strongly condemned terrorist acts worldwide. They stressed the importance of consistently implementing the Program of Cooperation of the SCO Member States in Countering Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2022-2024."

The declaration also noted that the SCO is firmly opposed to any attempts to militarize the information and communications technology sector. Accordingly, the document emphasizes that the member states "support the development of universal rules, principles, and norms of responsible behaviour of states in this (ICT) area, also welcome the launch of the development under the auspices of the UN of a comprehensive international convention on combating the use of ICT for criminal purposes."

Moreover, the SCO has urged its member states to fully implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and their Destruction to promote disarmament and prevent nuclear and chemical weapons proliferation.

The declaration also says the SCO will play a key role in helping develop an inclusive, independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful Afghanistan that would be free from terrorism, conflicts and drugs.

Moreover, the SCO summit highlighted Uzbekistan's growing geopolitical and economic role, and the success of its foreign policy initiatives which are both pragmatic and dynamic. Uzbekistan's open and multifaceted foreign policy has helped it to balance the interests of different states under the SCO umbrella. The SCO summit is a milestone in Uzbekistan's history in that it also allowed the country to diversify trade and logistics and make clear its economic diplomacy. The summit also gave Mirziyoyev an opportunity to demonstrate his "New Uzbekistan" vision to a global audience.

The author is the head of the Development Strategy Center, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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