We republish here in full the address by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the First Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Central Asian countries.
I am indeed pleased to see you all today at the First Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Central Asian countries.
We have been looking forward to our historical meeting in the beautiful and unique Jeddah, the symbolic gateway to the holy city of Mecca.
I echo the words of gratitude expressed to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, for initiating this high-profile event and excellent arrangements.
The peoples of Central Asia and the Gulf Region have long been linked by close trade relations, common values and traditions, and most importantly, our sacred religion of Islam.
We recall with great pride the incomparable contribution of our great intellectuals and scholars in the development of historical relations between Transoxania (Mavarounnahr) and the Arabian countries.
One of such symbolic persons is the profound scholar of hadith Imam Al-Bukhari known as the Leader of all Muhaddith.
We are proud of the fact that two of the six great muhaddith of the Muslim world were born and raised in our region, and the ancient Bukhara became famous under the name of the “Qubbat ul-Islam” – “Dome of Islam”.
It is a well-known fact that at the beginning of the IX century over 200 scholars from Central Asia conducted scientific research at the Academy of the “Bayt al-Hikmah” (The House of Wisdom) in the capital of the state of Abbasids.
Our great scholars such as Muso al-Khorezmi, Abu Rayhan Beruni, Ahmad Ferghani, Ibn Sina created their invaluable scientific works in the beautiful and perfect Arabic language and gained fame all over the world.
The holy Mushafi Sharif – the Uthman’s Qur’an, now preserved in our capital, testifies to the fact that the relations among our countries have ancient and deep roots.
There are many more examples. We are ready to pool all our efforts to ensure that our great common history and heritage serve as a solid foundation for promoting our relations.
Despite the dangers surrounding us, our regions have remained the space of peace, stability and development.
The Gulf countries, possessing huge economic, natural and intellectual resources, play a unique role in ensuring global stability and energy security.
Today, the Central Asian and the Gulf countries regard each other as reliable and long-term partners.
I am pleased to note that especially in recent years Uzbekistan’s relations with the Gulf countries have reached a new level. Today, the total portfolio of projects implemented with your leading companies and banks in our country has exceeded USD 20 billion.
Building on our positive experience, we propose to expand practical cooperation between our regions in the following directions.
First. In the political sphere, we are interested in developing comprehensive ties in various formats.
In order to bring our brotherly countries and peoples even closer, it would be expedient to jointly study in the future the issue of developing the Multilateral Agreement on Friendship, Interregional Connectivity and Cooperation.
The second direction is cooperation in the field of high technology and investments.
We need to create cooperation platforms and working mechanisms in innovation, artificial intelligence, green economy, digitalization, smart agriculture, nano and bio technologies.
In this regard, I propose to set up a Joint Council of Investors which would include the business representatives of our countries and to hold its first meeting in Samarkand.
We are keen to efficiently fulfill the potential of investment funds established with our partners from the Gulf and expand the activities of your leading banks in our region.
I also believe it would be important to adopt a separate roadmap for the joint implementation of green energy projects.
Today, we are working with such leading companies as Acwa Power, Masdar, Mubadala, Taka, and Nebras Power to build solar and wind power stations in our country with a total capacity of over 15 gigawatts, and implement energy storage projects.
Next month we will launch a major project with Saudi Arabia to produce green hydrogen.
Third direction is strengthening trade and transport connectivity.
There is an urgent need to establish a free trade regime with the Gulf countries, harmonize technical regulations and develop electronic commerce.
In this context, our experts should explore the possibility of adopting a multilateral Trade agreement.
We are ready to implement mechanisms for the supply of organic agricultural products to the Gulf countries to ensure food security.
In the field of transport and transit, I would like to propose applying the most favorable tariffs in the Middle Corridor, extensively use the existing multimodal corridors, and increase direct flights through targeted subsidies.
I urge you to take an active part in the strategic project of Trans-Afghan Railway, which will connect the Gulf countries with our region through the closest and most convenient route.
This route will halve transport costs and cargo delivery times.
Establishing a regular dialogue among our trade and transport ministers to develop and implement specific proposals in this direction would serve our common interest.
Environment and climate change are the next important area.
The fact that Dubai will host this year’s Global Climate Change Conference is the international recognition of the Gulf countries’ accomplishments in this field.
Notably, Saudi Arabia’s Middle East Green Initiative is making a significant contribution to drastically improving the region’s ecosystem.
I believe that you will support our idea of joint development of an International Research Program at the Central Asian University for the Study of Environment and Climate Change, which is to be established in our country.
I would like to draw your attention to the fifth direction, which is tourism.
In order to increase the number of tourists from the Gulf Region, we have introduced a visa-free regime for the residents of these countries.
It will also be expedient to create the Gulf-Central Asian Countries single visa-free tourist space, as well as modern tourism clusters, and enhance the joint production of tourist products.
In addition, I propose to organize a forum of leading tour operators of our regions in 2024 in the city of Khiva, which has been declared as the tourist capital of the Islamic world.
In the humanitarian direction, we would bring our brotherly peoples closer by organizing national culture weeks and cultural heritage exhibitions in our countries.
Currently, Uzbekistan carefully preserves more than a hundred thousand rare manuscripts. In this regard, we note with gratitude that a significant project has been realized in our capital with the support of the Sultanate of Oman.
We should fight together against islamophobia now witnessed in the world and take practical steps in this regard within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In fact, I think the time has come to redefine the tasks and responsibilities of this Organization.
Combating terrorism, extremism, radicalism and drug trafficking, and strengthening our ties to protect our youth against these threats and prevent their spread through the Internet and other tools is the requirement of time.
I would like to draw your attention to the problem of Afghanistan. Without establishing peace in that country, not only regional, but global security cannot be guaranteed.
In this context, we positively asses the outcomes of the First Meeting of the Special Representatives on Afghanistan held this May in Doha.
In general, our regions should be pro-active and draw the attention of the entire world community to the problems of Afghanistan from the highest rostrums and make a worthy contribution to bring relief into the lives of the Afghan people.
Today’s dialogue, views and suggestions expressed in this hall have shown the great potential of our ties.
Our regions are now meeting each other and opening the doors for extensive cooperation. For this, I would like to once again express my gratitude to our brother Crown Prince His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
In order to consistently continue such open and productive meetings, I propose to hold our next summit in Uzbekistan.
I have no doubt that the outcomes of our today’s historic Summit will elevate the multi-faceted ties between the Gulf and Central Asian regions to a completely new level.
The Author is Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan