The results of consistent reforms implemented in the country in the framework of the Strategy of Actions for the five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021 have laid a solid foundation for the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for the period of 2022-2026. Moreover, positive changes in domestic and foreign policy are also contributing to the growth of Uzbekistan’s image in the international arena.
The reforms carried out in the direction of foreign policy within the framework of the Strategy of Actions, especially president Sh.Mirziyoyev’s efforts to strengthen good-neighborly and mutually beneficial cooperation with Central Asia states and to bring relations with leading foreign countries to a new level are noteworthy. Moreover, Uzbekistan’s promotion of initiatives based on national interests within regional and international organizations and their support by the international community has increased country’s prestige and role in regional and global affairs. Consequently, not only strategically located Uzbekistan, but also our region – Central Asia become a place of great opportunities and cooperation which serves for connectivity of East-West and North-South.
Currently despite the regional challenges and complex geopolitical processes taking place in the world, Uzbekistan as an equal subject of international relations by ensuring socio-economic stability in the country remains committed to its main principles, strategic goals and objectives in the field of foreign political activity.
In line with the national legislation on foreign policy (The Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Concept of Foreign Policy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Defense Doctrine of the Republic of Uzbekistan, etc.), which has been improved for several years, as well as based on the strict political position set by the leadership of Uzbekistan, international relations of the country have acquired a completely new meaning. Uzbekistan, as articulated in the above mentioned documents, is adherent to the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, inviolability of borders, non-use of force or threat, the solution of all contradictions and conflicts exclusively by peaceful means. Moreover, the policy of non-alignment with military-political blocs, preventing the deployment of foreign military bases and facilities on its territory, as well as the participation of the country’s military personnel in peacekeeping operations or military conflicts abroad are defined as the foreign policy principles of Uzbekistan.
On January 28, 2022, as a continuation of the Strategy of Actions, the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for next coming five years, which has seven priority directions and one hundred goals, was approved by decree of the President Sh.Mirziyoyev.
The Development Strategy for 2022-2026 sets a number of strategic goals and objectives regarding the priority direction of pursuing an open, pragmatic and active foreign policy (Goals from 93 to 100). In particular:
- increasing the role of Uzbekistan as an equitable entity of the international relations;
- elevating to the highest level the close cooperation in Central Asia in security, trade and economic, water, energy, transport and cultural and humanitarian spheres;
- further developing relations with our traditional partners, strengthen economic diplomacy, and prioritize expanding the geography of our foreign relations;
- strengthening the activities of Uzbekistan in the framework of United Nations bodies and institutions, global and regional economic, financial and humanitarian organizations.
- achieving World Trade Organization (WTO) membership and deepen integration processes with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
- developing and enhancing strategic messaging to provide an accurate image of our country in the world community;
- improving the regulatory framework of foreign policy and foreign economic activity, as well as the legal framework of international cooperation;
- improving the system of services for citizens of Uzbekistan abroad by diplomatic missions and consular posts of the Republic of Uzbekistan abroad.
In addition, the State program for 2022 to implement the Development Strategy has defined several urgent tasks and measures in the direction of conducting an open, pragmatic and active foreign policy. For instance, the State program envisages further deepening relations with Central Asian states, strengthening cooperation with traditional partner countries, as well as international and regional organizations, and actively promoting the national interests of the country by conducting a balanced and continuous dialogue with all international partners. In order to further accelerate the friendly and good-neighborly cooperation with the Central Asian states, which is considered as the main priority of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy, it is planned to effectively use the mechanisms of high-level dialogue and bilateral cooperation in all formats. In this regard, ensuring the regular organization of Consultative meetings of the heads of State of Central Asia every year and active participation in them, as well as the tasks of developing a Strategy for Regional Cooperation are very important initiatives and noteworthy for regional progress.
Furthermore, specific measures are being implemented to establish cross-border free trade zones and accelerate the “China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan” railway project, as well as to deepen cooperation with neighboring countries in order to eliminate the negative consequences of the rapid shrinkage of the Aral Sea. Also, in the framework of State program, a number of tasks are being carried out regarding development of multifaceted relations of Uzbekistan with Afghanistan and assistance in its socio-economic recovery, acceleration of traditional strategic cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as expansion of relations with strategic partners, interaction with UN bodies and institutions, increasing the effectiveness of economic diplomacy in foreign policy of the country,
intensifying negotiations on joining WTO and deepening integration processes with the EEU.
Especially, on expanding the geography of foreign relations as defined Goal 95 of the 7th priority direction of the Development Strategy, it is planned to further expand relations with existing and new partners in the Asia-Pacific, America, South Asia, Middle East, Africa and other regions by improving efficiency of economic diplomacy, in particular, increasing the volume and range of export goods from Uzbekistan.
Taking this into account, improving the legal basis of economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian cooperation with existing and prospective international partners as well as establishing direct economic relations between small and medium-sized businesses and private enterprises abroad are essential to activate bilateral trade and economic relations.
It is noteworthy that Uzbekistan has established diplomatic relations with three foreign countries since the beginning of the year. In particular, Antigua and Barbuda became the 141st country to establish diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan. This country is located in the western part of the Caribbean Sea and is a member of the United Nations, the British Commonwealth, and the Organization of American States.
Moreover, Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in three prestigious international organizations – Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Organization of Turkic States and Economic Cooperation Organizations – in the current year, as well as the regular high-level meetings with leaders of partner countries in our country and abroad, opens a new page in Uzbekistan’s foreign political activity and multilateral diplomacy.
Meanwhile, in the current complex geopolitical processes, coronavirus pandemic, global economic crisis and growing geopolitical competition for natural resources and ideological struggle, it is important to ensure security and stability in Uzbekistan and pursue a mutually beneficial, open and pragmatic foreign policy in the international arena by actively promoting national interest of the country. In turn, the effective implementation of priority tasks and objectives in the direction of open, pragmatic and active foreign policy and the achievement of strategic goals defined in the “Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026”, in particular, the strengthening economic diplomacy and the expansion of the geography of foreign relations not only increase Uzbekistan’s role in regional and global affairs but also make Central Asia a place of cooperation with stable and great opportunities.
By Farrukh Khakimov/Head of Department, Development Strategy Center