Azerbaijan, Baku, March 18/ Trend , V. Javoronkova /
Trend had an exclusive interview with Uzbekistan's Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador Ismatulla Igrashev.
Q: Recently, people from expert and analytical circles mentioned the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as playing an important role in the regional and international policy. Uzbekistan has been a chairman of this organization since June 2009. On what area does the state put special attention regarding this post?
A: SCO's priority is to continue our policy, test it in practice, implement developments and adopt new relevant documents.
Uzbekistan pays special attention to the further improvement of the organization's efficiency. The development of the organization's international contacts and strengthening the normative-legal base, the elaboration and implementation of initiatives related to the security and stability of the region are all measures intended to increase the efficiency of the SCO.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov's proposals on Sept. 11, 2009 in Tashkent, aimed at improving the decision-making mechanisms within the organization, as well as the activity of the SCO and its divisions.
SCO's growing positive image in the world as an effective tool for regional and world politics, as well as the need for interaction between different power centers for the promotion of common and conflicting interests in a modern multi-polar world, dictates the importance of the development of contacts between the SCO and other influential international and regional organizations.
One of the priorities is to further intensify cooperation in the sphere of security and stability in the region, to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism. A special role is given to the activities of the Regional anti-terrorist structure (RATS) of the SCO.
It is important to improve the efficiency of investment cooperation and direct ties among economic entities of SCO countries in the implementation of joint projects. Forming modern productions on the basis of joint investment projects not only in the mining and processing industries, but also in the sphere of high technology, could be an important factor contributing to the problems of employment of the population, ensuring sustainable economic development and ultimately a socio-economic security and stability in the region.
Development of transport communications is among SCO's important priorities. In this regard, it is necessary to complete the reconstruction of a road within the international transport route E-40. Uzbekistan almost completely fulfilled its obligations on the reconstruction of the E-40 road on its territory. Besides, a free industrial economic zone (FIEZ) in Navoi is located in the center of the road and is of great importance because it is a catalyst for economic growth not only for Uzbekistan but also for the entire region.
Due to the establishment of FIEZ Navoi many companies will have access to first class transport and an opportunity to become a supplier and consumer of products produced in FIEZ. The transshipment terminal located here will help organize the multimodal transportation. Significance of the transport node in FIEZ Navoi for all SCO member states will increase with the implementation of new infrastructural and transport projects in Central Asia. In turn, the SCO may contribute to its development.
Under Uzbekistan's SCO presidency a great attention is given to the improvement of the normative legal base of the organization. So far, there is no single document regulating the initiation, development, coordination and adoption of normative-legal documents within the SCO. Based on experience, operations on the draft of Rules of Procedure of the SCO are underway, initiated by Uzbekistan.
Today, the SCO is an influential international organization. This is primarily evidenced by the growing number of countries wishing to become members, observers or dialogue partners. In this regard, it is planned to finalize the draft of regulation on the admission of new members to the SCO until the next time heads of states meet.
Q: Recently, one of the major issues of the international agenda has been the new threats and security challenges. How do you think the SCO can join the efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan?
A: I can say with certainty that each year the role and significance of the SCO in solving problems of regional and global security, combating international terrorism, separatism and extremism, drug trafficking and threats to security in the strategically important Central Asian region. As I have previously said, RATS plays a special role in the SCO, which is an effective tool and platform for uniting efforts, as well as practical interaction of law enforcement agencies and intelligence services of member states.
You are rightly focused on the Afghan problem. It's no secret that the main source of threats to security in the region is still the war in Afghanistan, which has been going on for several decades. Talking about security and stability in the whole Central Asian region without the permission of the problem is not necessary.
Today, the fact that the Afghan problem cannot be solved by military means becomes obvious and the countries involved in the conflict agree with it.
It is impossible to positively change the situation in the country without solving such critical issues as the restoration of the war-devastated economy, communications and social infrastructure of Afghanistan and without involving Afghans in the process.
It is important to show full respect for the deep historical and ethno-demographic roots of the multiethnic people of Afghanistan, the traditional values of the Islam religion and reach the necessary consensus within Afghanistan and start a dialogue.
As before, we are convinced that the establishment of a Contact Group 6 +3 consisting of plenipotentiary representatives of countries directly bordering Afghanistan, plus representatives from Russia, the United States, NATO, will contribute to an early solution of the Afghan problem..
Q: In 2008-2009, the world community faced with very severe tests of a global financial and economic crisis. What can you tell about the impact of these trends on the development rate of Uzbekistan's economy?
A: Ensuring of macroeconomic stability and sustainable economic growth was another indisputable proof of the correctness of the chosen economic course in the country. It is based on five fundamental principles of economic reforms, recognized in the international community as the "Uzbek model " of economic reforms realization in terms of the aggravated world's financial and economic crisis in 2009.
As of 2009 the GDP growth was 8.1 percent, industrial output - 9 percent, agriculture - 5,7 percent, retail trade - by 16.6 percent, paid services - 12,9 percent. The state budget was executed with a surplus without reducing the budgeted expenditures. Inflation did not exceed the forecasted parameters and equaled 7.4 percent.
Taken measures to strengthen the banking and financial system of our country have allowed to increase the bank's joint capital twice and increase the proportion of banks' loans for investment purposes up to 70 percent for the last two years. A range of measures to ensure the financial stability of the enterprises in a real sector of economy was realized, primarily by modernizing production, reducing production costs, expanding of business ties, stimulating of domestic demand for the products of domestic manufacturers. Last year, the volume of localized production increased by 2,3 times. Production of more than 120 new products was mastered.
As a result of realization of measures to support and stimulate domestic exporting enterprises in terms of a very unfavorable situation on world markets, the growth in export volumes by 2.4 percent is ensured.
A policy of structural changes and economic diversification of economy, modernization and technological renewal of production, drawing of foreign investments, especially direct financial ones was consistently conducted.
In 2009, new production capacity in the automotive machinery, construction materials, chemical, food, light industry, pharmaceutical and other industries were introduced. Operations on rapid development of road and rail transport systems and telecommunications were actively conducted. Thanks to anti-crisis measures taken in 2009, more than 940,000 new jobs appeared, about 500,000 - in rural areas.
I would like to stress that now the discussion of the developed and developing countries' experience, managed to ensure a balanced development of economy and stability of the banking and financial system during crisis, as well as their approaches to work out priorities and strategies for post-crisis development, have great interest for the governmental sector, international organizations and academic institutions.
As a contribution to the global debates on these issues, the Uzbek government organizes an international conference "Effectiveness of anti-crisis program and priorities of the post-crisis development" Tashkent April 12.
A very representative delegation from Azerbaijanin will also participate in it.
Q: As far as we know, a meeting of the ADB Governing Board will be held in Tashkent in early May. At what level is the cooperation between Uzbekistan and the ADB?
A: Indeed, the 43-rd annual meeting of the ADB Board of Governors will be held in Tashkent May 3-4. Those days the capital of our country will receive about 3,000 guests, including official representatives, as well as business and scientific circles of the ADB Member-States.
Participants of the forum will discuss the work done within the implementation of the long-term program ADB's Strategy-2020, adopted in 2008. Attention of guests will be concentrated on reforming the global financial system and the post-crisis development of Asia. It must be emphasized that the upcoming Tashkent meeting is the first annual meeting of ADB in Central Asia and Caucasus.
Uzbekistan joined ADB in August 1995. Over the years of cooperation the ADB has allocated Uzbekistan more than $1 billion to implement 25 projects. Today, this regional financial institution holds the first place among other similar institutions in terms of existing loan portfolio. Joint programs and projects between Uzbekistan and the ADB are implemented in four key areas - transport infrastructure, agriculture, general education, health, public utilities, as well as small and private entrepreneurship.
Preparation and approval of 3 new projects to subsidize the priority projects in the modernization of transport and energy infrastructure, promoting small businesses with a total volume of ADB credit resources worth $1 billion are planned to be realized within the program of financial cooperation in 2010. Over $500 million of this sum will be available at deep discount conditions through the Asian Development Fund for a period of 32 years with an eight-year grace period and the rate of 1,5 percent per annum.
The second tranche worth $ 140 million is planned to be opened within the program of multi-trench funding to improve drinking water supply and sanitation approved in September 2009.