Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me cordially welcome you and reiterate my deep gratitude for the high interest shown in the current Tashkent summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
I have a tremendous pleasure to note that the 10th session of SCO Council of Heads of State has just finished in a traditionally open, pragmatic and constructive mood inherent in our Organization.
Heads of SCO member states, as well as presidents of Mongolia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, foreign ministers of India and Iran, representatives of leading regional organizations, have discussed comprehensive intensification of multifaceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within SCO. We also exchanged views on contemporary regional and international issues.
Participants of the meeting have agreed that in the period between the summits in Yekaterinburg and Tashkent, a major substantive work has been carried out that included perfecting the legal framework for the Organization’s functioning, raising its efficiency and international image.
For the past year, activities within the framework of SCO have focused on cooperation to ensure peace, security and stability in the region, boost closer practical interaction in political, trade and economic, scientific and technical, cultural and humanitarian areas.
During the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Uzbekistan in April 2010, Joint Declaration on Cooperation between Secretariats of the UN and SCO was signed in Tashkent. The document is critical to consolidating SCO’s legal foundations, raising the Organization’s international standing, and developing its contacts with UN agencies.
Today, following the session, a meaningful set of documents has been signed aimed at intensifying the interaction within SCO, expanding its external ties, effective addressing of objectives in bolstering security, stability and sustainable development in the region.
First. Heads of state approved the final Declaration, the central document of the 10th summit. It reflects the principal assessments of SCO’s evolution; developments in the international and regional arena, statement that member nations are determined to keep on with close and comprehensive cooperation within SСO, acknowledging the latter as a reliable guarantor of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Second. Regulations on Procedures for Accession of New Members has been penned. In our opinion, signing of this document makes a significant step forward in creating a legal basis for the enlargement of the Organization.
At the same time, I would like to stress that the approval of Regulations does not imply a soonest accession of any country to SCO. The document creates only a legal framework for admission of observer nations to the Organization.
Third. The Council of Heads of State approved the SCO Rules of Procedure. Brought into being by Uzbekistan’s initiative, the document is to assign the SCO activity a systemic nature, and provide for strict regulations for the elaboration and implementation of approved documents and decisions. And above all, it reflects the underlying principle that decision-making within the Organization must adhere to rules of consensus. This is a crucial document that attaches the Organization a democratic, open character, and provides opportunity for each member state to have an absolute right to effectively defend its own position; that is, if any of the participating nations raises objections, decision is not approved. It is accurately fixed in the document, and is a result of some occasions of violating the principles of hierarchy. Thus, drafts should be developed, first of all, at the level of responsible coordinators, experts of relevant institutions, and only then to be discussed by heads of ministries and government agencies depending on the subject area. Security issues are to be deliberated at the level of secretaries of national security councils, while international topics discussed at the level of the Council of Foreign Ministers - essentially a final stage. At the same time, it is imperative that the final edition of the document be ultimate and have unequivocal interpretation.
There were a number of cases when, during government meetings, urgent decisions were approved rather hastily. Uzbekistan’s view completely excludes such kind of practice. Our initiative contributes to adding a significant weight to every single document on the agenda. We have an organization – CIS – that has so many agreements hard to count, yet most of them are not always authoritative. And hence the principle of making decisions advocated by Uzbekistan ensures not merely a democratic and open nature of SCO activities, but also a clear-cut procedure for their approval at the level of heads of state.
Fourth. A critical role in accomplishing the objectives assigned to SCO for building up a mutually beneficial interaction in the Organization’s priority areas is to be attached to intergovernmental deals signed today on cooperation in agricultural sphere, and the one on fighting crime.
Fifth. Heads of state have approved the SCO Secretary General’s Report on the Activities of the Organization and the Council of RATS [Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure] during the past year.
Dealing with regional security and stability issues, we have discussed the situation in Afghanistan. In my opinion, in speeches made by the leaders, one could hear quite important visions for prospective developments in the country and proposals for securing stability.
We have reached a general understanding that without resolving the Afghan conflict it is impossible to speak about peace and stability in our vast region, and the unfeasibility of settling the situation exclusively by military means. In this context, vital for Afghanistan is addressing the priority socio-economic issues, providing a targeted economic assistance to the long-suffering Afghan people torn in war for the past 30 years, reaching consensus among opposing forces, ethnic and religious groups, as well as arranging for a negotiation process under the leading role and auspices of the United Nations.
The foremost principle mentioned today at the session and stressed by the President of Uzbekistan, is that the war and confrontation in Afghanistan may last long without engaging all the opposing forces, ethnic, religious and regional groups, without the involvement of all political forces and the Afghans themselves in tackling the problem. Today, Afghanistan’s destiny is unfortunately shaped mostly not by those who live, work and see their prospect, in the country. Outsiders come and go, but the Afghans will grow their children and build their own future on that land. That is the nutshell of the problem. Because it is the Afghans who have to live there, bring up next generation and strive for prosperity of the country; it is them who should define on what terms peace should be achieved. I personally believe that if we do not achieve this, if we do not secure consensus among various Afghan opposing groups and forces, the war might go on for long. When I use the word "consensus", I do not mean harmony. You understand that in a country that has suffered war for as long as 30 years, reaching harmony among the antagonists is quite tough, even virtually impossible. Uzbekistan has talked about this many times, and I personally put forward it for the first time during an EAPC/NATO session in Bucharest in 2008. I cut the problem unequivocally; that resolving the crisis in Afghanistan be based on that very consensus.
You may ask if it is ever possible. I consider it feasible if it is done primarily under the aegis of the UN and, above all, with the participation of all the neighboring nations. For example, for resolving the conflict in Afghanistan it is proposed to engage Persian Gulf states or the ones who are willing to allocate financial resources. If one follows this principle, there will be myriads of those with a desire to be involved in this process. Therefore, Uzbekistan advocates settlement through the “6+3” contact group.
This, first of all, is a restricting principle, but which is being overcome by all six nations adjacent to Afghanistan, including China. For Afghanistan is a multi-confessional and multinational country. Yet the principal factor is ethnic groups. Each ethnic group has its own support base across the border. For instance, as you know, the majority of population in Afghanistan are pushtun, making up about 70 percent. The next major group are Tajiks who speak Tajik, Dari and other languages. They are followed by Uzbeks who are about 3 million people. In addition, numerous Turkmens and Hazara live in the country, with hardly an end to this list. Consequently, all nationalities and ethnicities of Afghanistan should be involved in the settlement process. Ethnic kin from neighboring countries can exert influence on them.
Besides, the United States, Russia and NATO, who are active today in Afghanistan within ISAF programs, are capable of influencing the process of stabilization. And as a result, you have “6+3”. “6” means Afghanistan’s adjacent countries, and “3” comprises the US, Russia and NATO. And, what is crucial, it is the Afghan people themselves. Our proposal to set up a “6+3” group under UN aegis has been gaining support. As early as 2008, during the EAPC/NATO summit, Uzbekistan declared that there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis. All were inclined to think that an enormous military armada, involved in the peace-building process, can force the Afghans to peace. Yet Afghanistan is not a country that can be coerced. You know how the attempt to occupy that land ended for Great Britain in the nineteenth century and the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
In the wake of the twenty-first century, the war has been going on for nine years, and there is no apparent end to this conflict, in my personal view. And today, even those commanders of peace-building forces present in Afghanistan have to admit that there is no military solution to this predicament. Even the leaders of great powers of Europe and the United States have recently talked about that. They began understanding that there is no way to achieve peace only with military means.
Afghanistan is a key state at the core of world attention. For Uzbekistan and the adjoining countries, peace in Afghanistan means peace in the entire region. Without peace, there will be a hotbed that constantly creates tension for all the adjacent nations.
This is why it will be important to rely on the neighboring states in addressing the situation in Afghanistan. Only with engaging these countries who have influence on ethnic groups in Afghanistan, will it be possible to hope for a positive outcome.
During the summit, the situation in Kyrgyzstan has been discussed as well. The heads of member states expressed their hope for a soonest normalization of situation in that country. The summit attendees expressed willingness to provide necessary assistance and support for Kyrgyz Republic in order to accelerate stabilization and legitimacy of the authorities, improve the socio-economic conditions that have been turning, unfortunate as it is, rather critical.
Heads of state exchanged views on post-crisis economic recovery, on the role of SCO and its members in addressing the problems associated with this phenomenon.
It was stressed that SCO will keep with its efforts in creating an encouraging environment for trade and investment activities, implementing trans-border, transport and communications, infrastructure and socially oriented projects in order to ensure sustainable development in the countries of the region and improve the welfare of our peoples.
Assessing the activity for the past year, I would like to stress that documents inked today constitute a new important step forward in advancing the SCO, elevating its international weight, consolidating the role and capacities of the Organization in achieving its core objectives, namely, bolstering peace, stability and security, guaranteeing sustainable development, enhancing interaction in humanitarian and social spheres.
I would like to point out that we have every reason to declare that the tasks identified for the Organization during Uzbekistan’s chairmanship, have mostly been accomplished. I would take this opportunity to express my earnest gratitude to SCO Secretary General Muratbek Imanaliev, whose experience and help for us has been significant in completing our projects and in the toughest process of making the interests of all sides meet.
In general, I would like to acknowledge that if we have successfully completed our presidency in the Organization, I believe it is the achievement, first of all, the Secretariat of SCO, staff of the Uzbek foreign ministry, other agencies and institutions. At the same time, this has been a coherent and organic work with the huge team-groups of other states.
Taking this opportunity to speak before you, journalists, I would like to express my tremendous gratitude to you for this colossal, rather taxing work that has been done so as to be able for us to assert with confidence that the tasks we defined last year have been accomplished.
June 11, 2010