By Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery
The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev defined further goals and set the most important tasks aimed at ensuring a consistent increase in the level of welfare and wellbeing of the country’s population.
In his address later in December, President Shavkat noted the need for improving the foreign policy strategy of the country and adopting an updated concept of activities in this area. At the same time, the importance of ensuring the consistency of Uzbekistan’s open, proactive and constructive foreign policy was emphasized.
These distinctive features of the new external course of the country, the leading role in the construction of which belongs to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, include the following basic principles.
First, a characteristic feature of the modern foreign policy of Uzbekistan is pragmatism in building relationships with all traditional partners, as well as the countries near and far abroad.
In this context, Uzbekistan proceeds from the tasks of internal development. Among them are maintaining high growth rates, modernizing and sustainable development of the economy, raising the standard of living of the population and ensuring full integration into the structure of world economic relations.
Second, Uzbekistan today constantly promotes the principle of multilateralism in the country’s foreign policy. Uzbekistan stands for the development of creative processes of globalization, the establishment of mutually beneficial and equal international cooperation based on dialogue, mutual trust and respect for each other’s interests.
This dictates the transboundary nature of modern challenges and threats. Among them, the epidemiological crisis and its socio-economic consequences, terrorism, cross-border crime, the food crisis, the fight against poverty and the problem of global climate change remain relevant, which can only be countered by joint efforts.
Third, the country relies on pro-activity in foreign policy and distances itself from the role of a passive observer of the ongoing processes in the region and the world. This is confirmed by the fact that by now Uzbekistan has become a member of more than 100 different international organizations and a party to more than 200 international multilateral treaties. In this context, particular attention is drawn to the activation of Uzbekistan within the framework of the SCO, the adoption of the chairmanship in the CIS and entry as a permanent member to the Turkic Council.
The growing initiative of the country on these platforms, the mutually beneficial nature of the proposals put forward and their focus on solving problems that meet collective interests also speaks of the intensification of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy activities. Fourth, an important distinguishing feature of the newly introduced strategy is openness, one might say, the democratization of foreign policy. Dialogue with the people, which has been declared a key principle of the activities of state power and administration bodies, has in recent years turned into an open dialogue with the outside world.
Wherein, the role of the public in the formation of the foreign policy agenda has significantly increased, and the circle of subjects involved in its implementation is expanding. In particular, the activity of parliamentary and people’s diplomacy is growing.
Fifth, another significant principle is constructivism. Uzbekistan is convinced that the confrontational defense of national interests in foreign affairs, especially with neighbors, will not give the expected long-term effect. It is important to search for reasonable compromises and a mutually acceptable balance of interests in resolving acute issues of bilateral and multilateral interaction. At the same time, any controversial issue should be a subject of discussion and not an obstacle to political dialogue. This approach is based on other principles of our country’s foreign policy. This is peacefulness and good neighborliness, which reflect the peculiarities of the mentality of the people of Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s efforts in the Afghan arena are not limited only to the goals of preventing the emergence of new hotbeds of tension or ensuring security in the region. Practical assistance in transferring Afghanistan to the track of socio-economic recovery and ensuring its integration into the system of regional interconnectedness remains a priority. The President of Uzbekistan paid special attention to this issue in his next Address, stressing the intensification of work on the creation of a trans-Afghan corridor. This demonstrates the country’s long-term commitment to helping to rebuild Afghanistan’s peaceful economy and ensuring its integration into international trade and economic relations.
As a result, the political climate in Central Asia is radically changing. If earlier the region was seen as a powder keg or a tangle of intractable disagreements, today it is turning into a space of stability, good-neighborliness and peace.
All Central Asian states without exception are becoming beneficiaries of such a transformation in the perception of the region in the world. This is evidenced by the improvement in the aggregate economic indicators of the region’s countries.
Most importantly, thanks to the use of this approach, the authority of Uzbekistan in the world arena is significantly strengthened and its international subjectivity is growing. The country has established itself as a regional actor capable of exerting a stabilizing effect on the processes taking place in the region.
Sixth, another principle that began to prevail in the foreign policy, reformed under the leadership of the Head of the state, is the humanization of foreign policy.
This can be seen in the example of the increased concern of the state for the interests of citizens of Uzbekistan abroad, including through the provision of state services to compatriots and involvement in the implementation of socio-economic, cultural and humanitarian projects.
In recent years, Uzbekistan has achieved a qualitative shift in the international arena. The country seeks to become a responsible and predictable partner, ready in a constructive and open dialogue to solve the most pressing problems of both regional and global agendas, creating the necessary favorable external conditions for the implementation of a large-scale program of reform and modernization of the country, primarily for the benefit of the people living in Uzbekistan. In this regard, the approval of the Concept of Foreign Policy Activity in the new edition is an objective necessity and is intended to lay a solid foundation for conducting an effective foreign policy aimed at ensuring the further dynamic growth of Uzbekistan in post-pandemic realities.
–The Author is a Former 2-Star General of Pakistan Army and Pakistan’s Former Ambassador