Uzbekistan’s president urges UN Central Asia summit to “not leave Afghanistan alone with its problems”

Uzbekistan’s president urges UN Central Asia summit to “not leave Afghanistan alone with its problems”
Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev urged the UN to not leave Afghanistan alone to deal with its problems and for Central Asian countries to work more closely together for everyone's benefit.
By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent November 24, 2023

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has urged the leadership of the United Nations Economic Comission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to establish working relations and restore cooperation with Afghanistan. He made the call on November 24 while addressing the first summit of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA).

Highlighting how Afghanistan is in fact an integral part of Central Asia and is critical to the region’s stability, Mirziyoyev said: “We cannot afford to leave this country alone with its problems. A positive outcome cannot be achieved without engaging the current government in international dialogue.”

The Uzbek leader also called on other parties to strengthen regional cooperation and comprehensively support each other in effectively countering the contemporary challenges.

He noted that Uzbekistan is in favour of transforming the SPECA programme into an open and more effective regional platform for expanding economic cooperation.

Mirziyoyev also stressed the necessity of drawing up a joint action plan for the development of regional trade, including the introduction of best practices in eliminating existing obstacles and harmonising measures in the technical regulation of export-import operations.

According to Mirziyoyev, mutual trade between the SPECA countries could expand from the current $52bn to $100bn by 2030.

Mirziyoyev said there should be an acceleration in establishing the SPECA Trust Fund and the launching of its practical operations next year.

“I believe that the Fund’s activities will be aimed at primarily supporting major projects in the green economy, innovation, high technology, logistics, alternative energy, smart agriculture, the creation of modern social infrastructure and other relevant fields,” he said, noting Uzbekistan’s readiness to make a financial contribution to its establishment.

Mirziyoyev also expressed a readiness to host the international forum “Digital Transport Corridors” in Uzbekistan early next year and proposed creating a Special High-Level Working Group for Food Security that would hold its first meeting next year in Samarkand.

Underlining the importance of green initiatives, Mirziyoyev called for the adoption of a new comprehensive conceptual document of SPECA—a  multilateral “Green Strategy”.

According to UN estimates, the Central Asian region is losing approximately $2bn per year due to water scarcity. If this negative process worsens and is not addressed with a comprehensive response, per capita water availability may decrease by 25% and agricultural productivity by 40% in the future, the UN cautions.