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Speech by Ambassador Otabek Akbarov at the roundtable “Multilateralism in Eurasia” at the University of Cambridge


 

Dear Chairman, Excellencies, 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Thank you for inviting me to participate in today's meeting. It is a great honour for me to speak in such a distinguished place.

It is very symbolic and logical that today we are hosted by the Cambridge Central Asia Forum, which rapidly became one of the focus points of academic cooperation between the United Kingdom and states of our region.

Thanks to the Forum and Jesus College, every year we come together and discuss significant issues, as well as celebrate our common Navruz festivity. I am also proud that today’s meeting will be followed tomorrow by a unique event – First British-Uzbek “Avicenna Conference”, which brings together young scholars and leading academics from our countries. 

We fully supported the proposal of Professor Saxena to dedicate today’s round table to the issue of “multilateralism” which becomes increasingly important on the background of ongoing globalisation and consolidation of national interests of many countries on the international level.      


I


Uzbekistan is a member of number of leading international organizations, particularly the UN, Commonwealth of Independent States, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Organization of Islamic Conference, OSCE. We take active part in the activities of UNESCO, WHO, ILO, as well as international financial organizations - ECO, IMF, ADB and IDB.

During 20 years of Independence, Uzbekistan has put forward and implemented a range of important foreign policy initiatives which influenced to multilateral dynamics in the region. Just a few examples:

1) in 1999 at the OSCE Istanbul summit and during the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, President Islam Karimov proposed to establish International Counter-Terrorism Centre within the UN Security Council structure. International community supported and advanced this initiative – in 2001 the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee was established.

2) another key direction is fight against narco-aggression. During the visit of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Uzbekistan in October 2002, the Head of our State put forward the idea of creating the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre on combating against drug trafficking (CARICC). The Centre, as we know, is already functioning in Almaty.

3) from the UN General Assembly tribune in 1993, President of Uzbekistan voiced an initiative to establish the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia. After years of negotiations between regional states, nuclear powers and number of organizations, the Treaty establishing this Zone was signed by 5 states of Central Asia in Semipalatinsk in September 2006.

4) normalization of the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan has a crucial role for stability in Central Asia. At the UN GA session in 1993, our country proposed to hold the first international consultation on the regional security problems. Uzbekistan became an initiator of the formation of “6+2” Contact Group on Afghanistan under the aegis of the UN, which included 6 bordering countries, Russia and the USA. In 1999, a conference of this group took place in our capital, where “Tashkent Declaration on main principles of peaceful settlement of conflict in Afghanistan” had been adopted. The group had functioned effectively until 2001.

Now, we believe that it is expedient to resume the process of negotiations in the framework of consultative group on Afghanistan. At the NATO summit in Bucharest on April 3, 2008 our President called for resumption of the Contact Group which, in view of present realities, should be transformed from “6+2” to “6+3” involving NATO.


II


Today, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is on the brink of its 20-years anniversary. During the passed period, there were voiced different, sometimes diametrically opposite, opinions and forecasts regarding the effectiveness of the CIS activity. However, time itself has demonstrated that the CIS is still remains the only structure, which promotes development of multilateral cooperation among the majority of post-soviet countries.

One of the most important issues on the CIS agenda is economic cooperation with introduction of the free trade regime between member-states and development of wide transport communications. We are glad that the formation of the Free Trade Zone is secured by the CIS Concept of further development, signed by heads of states on 5 October 2007. At the same time, Uzbekistan underlines that conclusion of the Free Trade Zone Agreement should not worsen existing trade regime among the CIS countries and interests of all parties must be taken into account.

Modern realities demand an improvement of the CIS activity, which is also envisaged by the Commonwealth’s Concept of further development. In general, the CIS has a significant unrealised potential for facilitation of mutually beneficial cooperation among its members, and Uzbekistan will continue its participation in the activities of this organisation.   


III


When we talk about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, it is important to mention the following:

-Uzbekistan was one of the founders of the SCO, when signed Shanghai Declaration in June 2001 and defines its strategy with other members on equal basis;

-the SCO, which unites nations with common borders, history and culture, should clearly demonstrate that its activities are not directed against other countries;

-our priorities within the SCO include investment cooperation, development of transport networks and telecommunications, creation of jobs and solving social problems;

-along with that, Uzbekistan welcomes the SCO Charter goals on security and regional stability. Special role in this area is played by the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) in Tashkent;

-we fully support establishment of links between the SCO and other international structures. In accordance with Tashkent initiative of June 2004, the SCO has contacts with ASEAN, CIS and ESCAP, as well as observer status in the United Nations. The declaration on collaboration between the secretariats of the UN and SCO was signed in April 2010 in Tashkent and paves way for functional relations between the UN Counterterrorism Committee and RATS.

Uzbekistan chaired the SCO in 2010 and hosted its summit in Tashkent in June, when our President made several important proposals related to development of the decision-making mechanism within the SCO and activity of its structures. The summit resulted in signing of the Declaration of the heads of the governments, the Decree on regulations for admission of new members, as well as agreements on collaboration in the field of agriculture and crime fighting and number of other important documents.


IV               


Dear participants of the roundtable,

Discussing the social and economic issues, we can not avoid touching probably the most urgent problem in our region – management of water resources.

Taking into account a special importance of water for Central Asia, Uzbekistan has always spoken from a position of reasonable approach to its use. The tragedy of the Aral Sea is a vivid example of irresponsible attitude towards the environmental problems.

Today’s most important task is to preserve the natural biological pool of the area adjacent to Aral, reduce the disastrous impacts of the Aral crisis on the environment, and most importantly, on the life of millions of people living there.

The Aral Sea area is supplied with water from the two main rivers – Amudarya and Syrdarya, and any decrease of their waterflow would mean a radical disturbance of the existing fragile environmental balance in the entire vast region.

And in these conditions any attempts to implement projects drafted 30-40 years ago, yet in the Soviet period, to construct in the upper stream of these rivers the large-scale hydropower facilities with gigantic dams, and moreover, knowing that the seismicity of this area makes up 8-9 points, - all these may inflict an irreparable damage to environment and could be a reason for the most dangerous man-caused catastrophes.

We speak for compulsory conduction of the complex examination of large hydro-facility projects, first of all, the “Rogun” Hydro-Electric Station in Tajikistan and “Kambarata-2” in Kyrgyzstan, before starting their construction. Example of the anthropogenic accident in the Sayano-Shushen Hydro-Electric Station in Russia in 2009 confirms necessity of such preventive measures. I can remind you that Sayano-Shushen Station was elaborated at the same years and by the same institutes as Rogun and Kambarata-2 projects.

An international independent examination must confirm the safety of these projects, as from the point of view of ecological and anthropogenic risks, and preservation of volume and flow regime of Amydarya and Syrdarya.           

As many international ecological organizations and respected experts, including in Europe, recommend, it would be much more rational to switch to construction less dangerous, but more economical small hydropower stations to have on these rivers the same energy power generating capacities. 

In conclusion, I would like to stress that taking into account the historical ties among nations in the region, tremendous natural resources and human capital, growing economic and geopolitical significance of Central Asia, our states will continue cooperate, both in bilateral and multilateral levels.   

Thank you for your attention.


 

Participants of the round table
 
During the panel discussions 
 

Ambassador Akbarov speaking
at the Navruz festival in Cambridge

Choir of Jesus college
 
 
Uzbek students performing at festival  



Cambridge, 11 March 2011

 

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