‘Samarkand spirit’ can lift Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Shavkat Mirziyoyev

Uzbekistan’s chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has fallen during a dynamic period that is fraught with various events and trends.

The modern system of international cooperation, based on universal principles and norms, has begun to falter. One of the main reasons for this is a deep crisis of trust at the global level. This complicates the return of the world economy to its former course of development and the restoration of global supply chains.

In these circumstances, it is obvious that no country can hope to avoid or cope with these global risks and challenges alone.

There is only one way out of the dangerous spiral of problems that affects the interconnected world we all live in today: Through constructive dialogue and multilateral cooperation based on the consideration and respect of the interests of everyone. It is exactly at the time of crisis that all countries — no matter their size — must put aside their narrow interests and focus on such mutual interaction.

Effective international cooperation makes the world more stable, predictable and prosperous. This is the most viable and accessible way to solve the common problems of our time, as well as to act as a universal insurance policy against future challenges and shocks.

The international cooperation that is in the interests of everyone is impossible without multilateral institutions. Despite certain shortcomings, they continue to serve as the most important agents of interaction between countries — at both the regional and global levels. International and regional organizations help countries to overcome their differences and strengthen mutual understanding, develop political and economic cooperation, and expand trade and stimulate cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

These are the goals and objectives that are pursued by one of the world’s youngest multilateral institutions — the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Today, the SCO family is the world’s largest regional organization, uniting a huge geographical space and about half of the population of our planet. In a world of new challenges and opportunities, the SCO has excellent prospects for transformation and growth, not only through quantitative replenishment, but also through the opening of new strategic vectors. These are transport and connectivity, energy, food and environmental security, innovations, digital transformation and the green economy.

Accepting the responsibility of chairmanship, Uzbekistan has relied on the strategy of advancing the development of the organization by opening up new horizons for cooperation and launching the usage of untapped reserves that each of its members has.

Uzbekistan’s chairmanship is a logical continuation of an active and open foreign policy course.

Our slogan is: “The SCO is strong if each of us is strong.” Implementing this, we have made serious efforts to make the organization even stronger from the inside and more attractive to our international partners from the outside.

Uzbekistan’s chairmanship of the SCO is a logical continuation of an active and open foreign policy course that has been pursued by our country in the last six years. All SCO member states are our closest neighbors, friends and strategic partners. The chairmanship has given us a good opportunity to further strengthen multilateral collaboration and expand bilateral cooperation with each of them, as well as set new targets for even deeper partnership.

I am full of confidence that it is important and necessary for the SCO to share its success story with Afghanistan. This country is an integral part of the larger SCO space. The Afghan people need good neighbors and their support now more than ever. It is our moral obligation to extend a helping hand and offer them effective ways of overcoming the years-long crisis by promoting the socioeconomic growth of the country and its integration into regional and global development processes.

After a three-year pandemic-related pause that has caused serious disruptions to trade and economic and industrial ties, the countries and peoples of the SCO need to communicate directly. So, the ancient city of Samarkand, the jewel of the Silk Road, is ready to this week welcome the leaders of 14 countries with new proposals and initiatives that are designed to serve the good and prosperity of the SCO and each of its members.

Relying on the experience of our many years of joint work, we are confident that the Samarkand summit will set an example of how we can launch a new, inclusive dialogue based on the principles of mutual respect, trust and constructive cooperation for the sake of common security and prosperity.

Historically, the world as seen from Samarkand has been seen as single and indivisible, rather than fragmented. This is the essence of the unique phenomenon of the “Samarkand spirit,” which can serve as the basis for a fundamentally new format of international interaction, including within the SCO.

The Samarkand spirit is designed to naturally complement the Shanghai spirit, thanks to which more than 20 years ago our countries decided to create a new and much sought-after organization.

Therefore, we are confident that we will this week witness the birth of a new stage in the life of SCO: Its membership will grow and its future agenda will be formed, and this is highly symbolic.

We are full of optimism and are convinced that the decisions of the upcoming summit will make a feasible contribution to strengthening the dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation both at the regional level and on a global scale.

The writer is president of Uzbekistan