Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the SCO: effective partnership, long-term goals, objectives

Events organized within the framework of Uzbekistan’s chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization continue in the capital.

The agenda includes topical issues on strengthening cooperation in various fields, including cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

Last month – in May 2022, Tashkent hosted an international tourism forum “A new stage of cooperation between SCO countries: tourism and cultural heritage”, as well as a meeting of sports ministers of SCO member countries ‘association. During the events, specific goals and objectives were worked out and agreements were reached, which the parties will sign on the sidelines of the September summit.

Thus, the heads of tourism administrations of SCO member states at the forum discussed a new stage of cooperation in the field of tourism and cultural heritage, issues of deepening cooperation on the introduction of ‘joint combined tourist routes, as well as the expansion of transport and logistics. Opportunities. It was noted that the total space of SCO member countries, which stretches from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean and from Shanghai to Kaliningrad, comprises more than 40% of the world’s population. This is a huge tourist market, the potential of which should be fully exploited in the years to come.

During three breakout sessions, discussions took place on new initiatives in the field of cultural heritage preservation, as well as on the prospects for cooperation in the field of archaeology, museology, education and science in the field of tourism.

According to data announced at the forum, in 2019 about 250 million tourists left SCO countries for overseas vacations. The largest number of travelers come from China. Uzbekistan is the center of the Great Silk Road and has attracted the attention of tourists from all over the world since ancient times.

Our country has been recognized as an attractive tourist destination by many authoritative publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Global Muslim Travel Index, National Geographic Traveler Awards, Lonely Planet, etc. There are 8.4 thousand cultural heritage sites in the republic, 209 of which are located in four museum cities, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

At the meeting of heads of tourism administrations of SCO member states that preceded the forum, Aziz Abdukhakimov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Minister of Tourism and Cultural Heritage, noted that to ensure the tasks set by the leaders of the countries of the association, it is necessary to set up a permanent coordination group at the level of the deputy heads of the tourism administrations in charge of international cooperation.

It is proposed to organize a series of discussions with broad participation from the tourism industry, to build a database of the most popular destinations and routes among SCO member states, to study the challenges and identify issues that impede the potential for domestic tourism in the organization’s space, including opportunities for combined tours and cross-border tourism exchanges. The task is to develop recommendations for improving tourism and transport communication between countries along the combined routes, which are in high demand among foreign tourists.

In this direction, Uzbekistan is actively working with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on tourist routes in the Fergana Valley, with Kazakhstan – along the tourist place Turkestan – Tashkent – ​​Samarkand – Bukhara. We are now ready to share this experience with other SCO partners.

Tasks for the digitization of the tourism industry and the use of “smart” and “green” technologies were also identified. It is necessary to support the wider introduction of e-commerce in products and services, the provision of intellectual services in tourism, as well as to actively involve young people in SCO countries in this process. – International tourism has grown steadily over the past decades and has already become one of the engines of the world economy and key factors of socio-economic progress, – underlined A. Abdukhakimov. – For many countries, this industry is a priority among the sectors of the national economy, as it directly contributes to its growth, job creation and the strengthening of cultural ties in society.

The further development of cooperation with SCO countries in tourism is a key task for Uzbekistan. The countries of the organization, which have the largest number of natural objects in the world, recognized masterpieces of mankind and cultural objects, have enormous tourism potential. The total cultural heritage of SCO member states, observers and partners is 207 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are of particular importance in the development of tourism and have attracted tourists from all over the world for centuries.

Such tourist centers as Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz and Termez are known worldwide. And the country pays great attention to the preservation and restoration of the cultural heritage of the Uzbek people. Architectural monuments built in the medieval Islamic style, as well as Christian and Buddhist ones, have been preserved and are the main attractions of the republic.

At the same time, Uzbekistan pays great attention to the development of gastronomic, health, pilgrimage, winter, mountain, agro-, ethnic and ecotourism tourism, as well as archaeological and other tourism.

Separately, the speakers focused on the theme of overcoming the crisis caused by the pandemic, which, in turn, was an opportunity to rethink the activities of the sphere from the point of view of security and sustainable development.

Along with the tourism forum, a meeting of heads of ministries and departments of physical culture and sports of SCO member states was held in the capital. The visit of foreign representatives will last three days, during which it is planned to hold an event at the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as take a trip to the Tashkent region to get acquainted with the sports infrastructure local.

The agenda of the main meeting includes the development of cooperation in the organization of the planned high-level sports competitions, the implementation of promising projects on the ground between the SCO member countries and the strengthening of ties interstate and interregional. The parties exchanged their experiences in promoting a healthy lifestyle among the people and large-scale projects to attract the younger generation to physical culture.

Within the framework of the meeting held on the eve of the Samarkand summit, a plan was approved for the implementation of the “road map” of cooperation between the relevant ministries and departments responsible for the development of physical culture and sports of SCO countries for 2022-2024. The document, aimed at improving the system of holding all events at a high level, provides for interaction in the direction of creating favorable conditions for the development of physical culture and sports, popularization of Olympic and non-Olympic sports, as well as ethnosport, advanced training of athletes, coaches and judges.

“Such meetings open up new opportunities for developing and deepening large-scale sports cooperation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization space,” said Adkham Ikramov, Minister of Sports Development of Shanghai. the Republic of Uzbekistan, in his speech. – One of the key factors for achieving the main goals of the SCO sports sector and solving the problems it faces is stability and prosperity, ensuring sustainable development by strengthening friendly ties through sports.

The Uzbek government pays great attention to the development and popularization of physical culture and sports. Over the past five years, major work has been done in this direction. First, a new country development strategy has been drawn up. Five important initiatives of the President are taken as a basis. Sport is defined as one of the priority areas of state social policy.

Thus, in recent years, sports and technical bases throughout the republic have been overhauled and re-equipped, reconstruction work has been carried out, new facilities have been built, and the necessary infrastructure for young people is being actively created. Currently, the construction of the Water Sports Palace is underway. In general, about 51,600 sports facilities operate in Uzbekistan.

Particular attention is paid to promoting a healthy lifestyle among the population and implementing large-scale projects to attract the younger generation to sport. It is also worth noting the successful holding of the SCO Tashkent International Half Marathon in March this year, which was held for the first time in Uzbekistan. As you know, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization marathons are included in the competition calendar of World Athletics (International Association of Athletics Federations) and are held in accordance with its rules, from doping control to the quality of the track surface.

At the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, in the team event, the national team of Uzbekistan took 32nd place, having strengthened its position in second place among the CIS countries.

Thus, the republic expresses its desire for cooperation and effective interaction to create favorable conditions for the benefit of the development of physical culture, sports and the Olympic movement with the partners of the SCO.

Sport is a messenger of peace: it represents equality and mutual respect, and inspires people to constantly move forward and achieve high goals. This is in line with the “Shanghai Spirit” of full trust, equality, mutual consultation, respect for cultural diversity and seeking common development. Sport has always been considered an important part of the SCO’s humanitarian sphere. And this was highly appreciated by the Uzbek side during its presidency.

The integration and development of ancient civilizations and ethnic groups in the SCO region has provided a valuable natural resource and a driving force for establishing sports cooperation.

The next meeting of heads of ministries and departments of SCO member states responsible for the development of physical culture and sports will be held in 2023 in India.

The upcoming 21st SCO Summit, to be held in ancient Samarkand, will raise the historically close relations of the countries participating in the association to a new level, taking into account the changing international environment. . Currently, the documents scheduled to be signed in September are being prepared.

Michael J. Chiaramonte