On November 24, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev took part in the First Summit of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) in Baku.
The event, chaired by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, was attended by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Khojamyrat Geldimyradov, the executive secretaries of the Economic Commission for Europe Tatiana Molcean and UNESCAP Armida Alisjahbana, as well as honored guests – Prime Ministers of Hungary Viktor Orbán and Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Jasem Mohamed AlBudaiwi.
At the beginning of his speech, the President of Uzbekistan sincerely congratulated all participants of the event on the 25th anniversary of the Programme, which was established by the Tashkent Declaration in 1998, as well as the adoption of a special resolution of the UN General Assembly dedicated to this significant date.
The Leader of Uzbekistan emphasized Azerbaijan’s fruitful chairmanship in SPECA, during which regional cooperation as part of the Programme reached a new level.
The President emphasized that over the past period, SPECA has demonstrated its relevance as an effective mechanism for regional partnership in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
As part of the Programme, more than 400 projects were implemented to expand practical interaction in trade, communications, transport and logistics, digitalization, energy, water resources, ecology, gender equality, and others. Strategies for trade facilitation and innovative development were adopted.
The strengthening atmosphere of good neighborliness and trust in recent years and the deepening of integration processes in Central Asia were noted with satisfaction.
“We are currently implementing major industrial cooperation and infrastructure programs with the countries of Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Hungary. We have set up joint investment companies and created project financing mechanisms. Modern trade and logistics centers and special economic zones are being built in the border areas”, the President noted.
Drawing attention to the modern challenges and threats faced by the region’s countries in the context of global geopolitical instability, the Leader of Uzbekistan outlined several practical initiatives to strengthen regional cooperation further within the framework of SPECA.
To transform the Programme into a more effective regional platform for enhancing economic cooperation, the need to radically increase the efficiency of the work of working groups in the main areas of partnership and strengthen the institutional foundations of the Programme was noted.
It was proposed to develop the SPECA 2030 Development Concept with experts from the UN Economic Commission for Europe and ESCAP.
To stimulate intraregional trade, the head of state noted the expediency of preparing a Joint Action Plan, which introduces world-leading experience and practices in eliminating existing barriers and harmonizing measures for technical regulation of export-import operations.
According to the Leader of Uzbekistan, adopting such measures will increase trade turnover in the SPECA region from the current $52 billion to $100 billion by 2030, with the share of industrial products in its structure at 70 percent.
The importance of creating and launching the SPECA Trust Fund next year was emphasized to support large projects in green economy, innovation, high technology, logistics, alternative energy, smart agriculture, and the creation of modern social infrastructure.
“The Fund must actively work with international development institutions, attract financial resources, and grant funds to priority projects and programs on the most favorable terms. Uzbekistan is also ready to make a financial contribution to the formation of the Fund”, Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
Speaking about the development of interconnected transport corridors, the President of Uzbekistan noted the need to fully implement the Road Map adopted during the summit to digitalize the data exchange process within the Trans-Caspian multimodal corridor.
A proposal was voiced to hold the Digital Transport Corridors International Forum in Uzbekistan next year.
The intention was also expressed, together with specialized UN institutions, to actively promote large projects to strengthen transport connectivity in the region.
The Leader of Uzbekistan proposed creating a particular high-level working group to ensure food security within SPECA and holding its first meeting next year in Samarkand.
“The main agenda of the event will be the development of cooperative ties between leading agro-industrial enterprises, the creation of value chains, the stimulation of scientific and technological exchanges and the introduction of advanced resource-saving solutions, and the use of express corridors”, the Head of state said.
Considering the connectivity of the spheres of water resources, energy, ecology, and agriculture, the importance of adopting a comprehensive new conceptual document of SPECA – the multilateral Green Strategy was emphasized.
According to UN research, countries in the region lose about $2 billion annually due to water shortages. If this negative process intensifies and there is no comprehensive solution to the problems, the per capita water supply indicator may decrease by 25 percent and crop yields by 40 percent, the President noted.
The Head of state paid particular attention to the issues of ensuring gender equality and involving women in entrepreneurial activities.
It was proposed to create a SPECA Business Women Council to constantly and systematically stimulate active initiatives and specific plans within the framework of the Programme.
In addition, the President announced an initiative to award, within the framework of the Council, the international prize “SPECA Recognition” to women who significantly contribute to the prosperity and economic development of the region’s countries.
Addressing his colleagues, the leadership of the Economic Commission for Europe and ESCAP, the Leader of Uzbekistan called for establishing working contacts and restoring cooperation with Afghanistan within the framework of SPECA.
“We cannot allow Afghanistan to be left alone with its problems. Without establishing an international dialogue with the current government, it will be impossible to achieve any positive result”, he noted.
The Leader of Uzbekistan expressed special gratitude to all participants for supporting the historic decision made two days ago in Paris to hold the session of the UNESCO General Assembly for the first time in Central Asia – ancient Samarkand in 2025.
Following his speech, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev reaffirmed Uzbekistan’s commitment to multilateral partnership within the framework of the SPECA Regional Programme for the sake of ensuring sustainable development and well-being of the people of the countries of the region.