Transcript of the address by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan H.E. Mr Islam Karimov at the formal dinner in honor of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Dear Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am tremendously honored to welcome you, dear Secretary General and the high-profile delegation of the United Nations Organization, on the ancient and hospitable land of Uzbekistan, and express my deep respect for the Organization.
In Uzbekistan, you are known as a prominent statesman of international standing, active and consistent supporter of the idea for a non-nuclear world, persistent advocate of tackling social, environmental and other global problems.
I would like to underscore in particular that thanks to your broad knowledge and rich experience in international affairs, you have deserved an authority and recognition throughout the global community. This is the very reason why Uzbekistan was among those nations who were first to unambiguously support your candidacy to the post of UN Secretary General.
Your first visit to Central Asia and Uzbekistan in the position of the head of United Nations provides an exceptional opportunity to obtain a closer examination of the unfolding situation in the region, and exchange views on pressing issues that have bothered all of us.
In Uzbekistan, we perceive of the United Nations the sole universal international institution which is there to promote global security and stability, to address numerous intricate international problems.
With little exaggeration can one say that millions of people all over the world place great hopes on the United Nations to address such contemporary challenges and threats as poverty elimination, combating diseases, drug trade and trafficking, countering devastating climate change on our planet, settling conflicts ongoing in a number of regions, searching for ways in the soonest mitigation of the current financial and economic crisis, and ensuring sustainable development of global economy.
Dear Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
We highly appreciate your initiative to personally visit the Aral Sea area and thus draw the attention of international community to one of the global environmental disasters of our times.
The Aral Sea catastrophe whose greatest number of victims live in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, stands as a testimony to grave impact of climate change, as well as environmental and water imbalance in the region, the growing decline of glaciers on the Pamir and Tien Shan mountains – overwhelming source for water in the key rivers of the region Amudarya and Syrdarya.
The Aral Sea area has been inexorably absorbed by the ever expanding desert there.
Over the last fifty years, the Aral water area has shrunk more than four times, volume of water decreased ten times, so has its mineralization.
Not only is this region around the drying sea, but also territories far beyond it are located in the zone of enduring environmental risk under factors with adverse impact on the quality of life, health and the gene pool of the local population.
It is by no means possible to resolve the outstanding social and economic problems challenging the population in Aral Sea basin without joint efforts and close cooperation with the United Nations.
I am convinced that your trip to Aral Sea area stimulates great hope among the general public in Uzbekistan in matters related to tackling a range of critical environmental and social problems.
To be sure, in the course of your visit we will also have an opportunity to exchange views extensively on issues concerning regional security, where Uzbekistan and the United Nations have accumulated ample experience of constructive interaction. Today, the protracted and bloody conflict in Afghanistan remains one of the gravest problems of both regional and global security.
Intent on the soonest resolution of this crisis, Uzbekistan has come up with an initiative to establish a contact group “6+3” – under the aegis of the United Nations – to include Afghanistan’s neighbors, as well as the United States, Russia and NATO. Mr Secretary General, we are hopeful for your comprehensive support to this proposal.
We believe there is no military solution of the Afghan conflict. The path to peace lays through social and economic reconstruction of the country, achievement of national consensus and harmony, and establishment of encouraging international environment for this goal.
To accomplish these objectives, it is necessary to address the urgent issues of eliminating poverty and misery, provide for respectful treatment of all ethnic and religious groups, ancient history and culture of Afghanistan, and rule out an inadmissible neglect of customs, traditions and religion of Islam professed by the local population.
A friendly neighbor for Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has already been rendering a wide-scale assistance to realize these objectives. In particular, with the support of international financial institutions, our country has been working on various projects in building transport communications, supplying the Afghan population with electricity and transporting considerable volumes of humanitarian aid.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that Uzbekistan and the United Nations have set a rather rich and promising agenda of cooperation, and we hope for further fruitful and effective interaction.