New opportunities for integration and cooperation: Op-ed
It gives me a great pleasure to congratulate the participants of the 7th Summit of the Turkic Council, the public of the Turkic world with the significant date - the 10th anniversary of adoption of the Nakhchivan Agreement on the Establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States.
The signing of this important document has marked the beginning of a new stage in fruitful partnership of Turkic-speaking countries which is based on inextricable historical ties, commonality of language, culture and spiritual values.
Today, the Turkic Council is a prestigious international platform for enhancing and deepening dialogue and cooperation among member countries, effective promotion their interests on the international arena.
The Republic of Uzbekistan as an integral part of the large Turkic family attaches great importance to the development of relations with Turkic-speaking countries. Back in the early years of its independence Uzbekistan has brought forward the initiative "Turkestan - our common home," which had been supported by the Turkic-speaking community. Our country took an active part in the first summits of heads of Turkic-speaking state. The historical 4th meeting of leaders took place on 21 October 1996 in Tashkent.
It became an important milestone in the development of cooperation of Turkic-speaking states and to some extent laid the foundation for the creation of the contemporary Turkic Council. By signing the Tashkent Declaration then, the heads of state emphasized the need for regular mutual consultations and agreed to establish the Secretariat for the heads of Turkic-speaking state meetings. This the most important institution is embodied in today’s Secretariat of the Cooperation Council, established by the Nakhchivan Agreement on the establishment of the Turkic Council exactly 10 years ago.
This year, Uzbekistan officially addressed the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states with the statement on accession to the Nakhchivan agreement. This request was warmly accepted by Organization’s all member states, for which we express them our deep appreciation. In the shortest possible time - literally within one working day we had received a positive response.
On 14 September 2019 the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on acceding the Nakhchivan agreement was signed. On the same day a law on its ratification was adopted,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to the Secretariat and the depository of the Council the Instrument on the accession of Uzbekistan to the Nakhchivan Agreement.
I am convinced that the accession of our country to the Turkic Council will facilitate strengthening of the Turkic world integration and open up new opportunities for cooperation, especially now when the Turkic Council is aiming at fostering the economic interaction amongst member countries.
The Republic of Uzbekistan has gained a solid experience of mutually beneficial partnership with Council’s all member states in many areas, both bilaterally and within a number of international frameworks.
Positive trends in interstate relations in the subregion of the Turkic Council open up for us new prospects for enhancing cooperation further both within the Turkic Council and in relations with international institutions and mechanisms, such as the United Nations, OSCE, OIC, ECO, “The Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process for Afghanistan”.
The Council has wide opportunities as an advisory, coordination mechanism of interstate relations and an instrument for promoting of equal, mutually beneficial international cooperation in Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Europe. There are no disputes or disagreements among member states which in my opinion is a vital advantage. All participants adhere to coinciding or close views and positions on contemporary issues related to the Turkic Council activity, international and regional agenda. It means that today there are no barriers for active interaction in such priority areas as economy, investments, innovations and high technologies, alternative energy and ecology, transport and communications, tourism, science and education, medicine.
The achieved level of comprehensive cooperation among the countries of the Turkic Council inspires great optimism. While its real potential is much greater. We have everything we need, and most importantly, the strong political will to achieve even higher milestones, which unconditionally and fully meet the interests of our people.
In this regard, Uzbekistan has identified key priorities and areas of cooperation for the active promotion of which we are ready to make every effort.
This is first, the expansion of mutually beneficial trade, economic and investment ties. Today, this vector should be the driving force of cooperation since it serves as the basis of growth of people well-being. I believe that, first of all, it is necessary to strengthen cooperation between leading industrial enterprises, investment companies, banking and financial institutions and entrepreneurs of our countries, as well as to establish effective interregional cooperation.
We are interested in promoting closer cooperative ties in the fields of transport and transit. Creating integrated transport networks will provide an access to major world and regional markets. It is primarily about the international North-South and East-West transport corridors, automobile, rail and air routes connecting the Central Asian region with China, the countries of Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
To this end, a number of strategically important projects for the development of transport infrastructure have already been implemented in the region. Great opportunities are also emerging with development of the “Andijan-Osh-Irkeshtam-Kashgar” automobile corridor, as well as the beginning of construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway.
Introduction of advanced information and communication technologies and innovations in all spheres is a determining factor in the competitiveness and sustainable development of any country. Therefore, we consider the innovative development of the Turkic Council countries a top priority. In this regard, we propose to establish close partnership between institutions responsible for innovative development, scientific and research centers and venture companies in order to promote programs and projects for development of future technologies.
As you know, the people of the Turkic-speaking countries have a unique and invaluable cultural, historical and spiritual heritage, which belongs to all mankind. In our countries the historical monuments of the Turkic and Islamic civilisation, heritage of great scientists, poets, thinkers and artists have been carefully preserved. This priceless wealth belongs to all mankind, and the world should see it, which can be facilitated by active development of pilgrimage tourism. The travel industry, along with the economic component, plays an important role in rapprochement of countries and peoples.
While determining the prospects of our present and future, we undoubtedly rely on spiritual and moral values, rich history and culture of people, their centuries-old friendship, good neighborhood traditions and mutual understanding. Cultural and humanitarian cooperation forms the very atmosphere of relations among states, unites people. A vivid example of this is the holding of the Year of Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan and the Year of Kazakhstan in Uzbekistan, mutual days of culture and joint friendship concerts between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, festivals, exhibitions as well as many other joint events that caused a warm feedback in the hearts of people. I am convinced that this will become a good tradition for all countries of the Turkic Council and, undoubtedly, will serve to strengthening friendship and mutual understanding among our people. We have great potential for interaction in the field of human development. Exchange of experience, implementation of joint educational, scientific and cultural projects, promising programs for education and enlightenment of youth should be one of the priorities of the Turkic Council.
In the context of globalization, unpredictability and growing tension in the world, close and mutually beneficial cooperation play a decisive role in achieving sustainable development and progress, ensuring peace and security. One of the basic aspects of multilateral cooperation among Turkic-speaking states, in my opinion, should be coordination of efforts taken by the law enforcement agencies of the Turkic Council countries in combating terrorism, extremism, organised crime, drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Today, the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states is entering a new, more dynamic and responsible stage of its development, which requires strengthening of progressive and comprehensive cooperation among our brotherly countries and people.
Thanks to the political will, an open and constructive policy of the Turkic-speaking states, regular meetings of the countries’ leaders, the atmosphere of increasing mutual trust is being strengthened in the region. Uzbekistan also actively participates in this process.
The great Turkic representative, the Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov, speaking about the historical role of our country, noted that “the Uzbek people in the fate of the Turkic-speaking countries played a role similar to the role of Byzantium in the fate of the Slavic states".
And today, at a new, by no means uneasy, stage of historical development, the Republic of Uzbekistan stands ready to make a worthy contribution to the further strengthening and enhancing of relations of friendship and cooperation between Turkic-speaking states.
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to congratulate the people of the Turkic-speaking states on the tenth anniversary of the Turkic Council and wish them peace, well-being and prosperity.
**Shavkat Mirziyoyev is the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.