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Declaration of the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan: Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity

Embassy
of the Republic of Uzbekistan
in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Declaration of the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan: Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity

(Tashkent, 26–27 March 2018)

PREAMBLE

We the participants of the Tashkent Conference:
(1) Acknowledge that peace and security in Afghanistan are essential for ensuring stability and prosperity in the region and bringing an end to the many years of violence and suffering of the Afghan people. Therefore, we recognize that a political settlement that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, supported by close regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics cooperation, and regional economic cooperation and connectivity are key to the peace and prosperity of Afghanistan and the entire region;
(2) Reiterate our support to Resolutions and the decisions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council including on the new partnership formed between Afghanistan and Central Asia following the UN Security Council meeting on Central Asia and Afghanistan held on 19 January 2018 in New York;
(3) Respect sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan and the efforts of its people and government for bringing peace, stability and development to their country;
(4) Recognize the importance of international and regional initiatives to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, in particular the Kabul Process, as a main forum and vehicle under the leadership of the Afghan Government to lead peace efforts to end violence in Afghanistan;
(5) Support Central Asian states’ efforts toward advancing the peace process and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, and their involvement in regional political and economic processes;
(6) Emphasize the importance of the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan: Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity as a continuation of the international community’s efforts in support of Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process;

PEACE & RECONCILIATION

(7) Voice our strong backing for the National Unity Government’s offer to launch direct talks with the Taliban, without any preconditions, with the ultimate goal of reaching the comprehensive peace agreement with the Taliban that is backed by the international community; and call upon the Taliban to accept this offer for a peace process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations;
(8) Emphasize that a political settlement with the Taliban is the best way to end violence in Afghanistan, and there is need for direct peace talks between the Government of Afghanistan and reconcilable elements of the Taliban without any preconditions;
(9) Reiterate our support to the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to begin direct talks with the Taliban and acknowledge the Kabul Process as a main forum and vehicle along with other regional and international peace initiatives on Afghanistan;
(10) Call on the Taliban to recognize their share of responsibility for bringing peace and security to Afghanistan in order to end the suffering of the Afghan people and officially declare their willingness for entering into direct peace talks with the Government of Afghanistan with full support from the international community through a mutually agreed format;
(11) Urge the Afghan Government and the Taliban to move towards a political settlement. An inclusive peace agreement will be a victory for all its parties and a defeat for none. It should guarantee the inclusion of the Taliban in the political process as a legitimate political actor, the renunciation by the Taliban of violence and breaking of all ties to international terrorism, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh and other Transnational Terrorist Networks (TTNs), as well as the respect of the Afghan Constitution including the equal rights of all Afghans;
(12) Stress the importance of women’s full and meaningful participation in Afghan reconciliation, security and economy, pledge continued support for international efforts aimed at Afghan women’s empowerment, and remain fully committed to support the implementation of the Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security;
(13) Support the Government of Afghanistan in creating favourable conditions for the start and progress of the peace talks through provision of effective incentives and oppose with necessary measures those who prove themselves irreconcilable to peace, continue to commit violence, bloodshed and atrocities and provide assistance to TTNs;
(14) Call on all countries to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and non-interference in its internal affairs in order to achieve its security, stability and prosperity;
(15) Pledge our support for a peaceful Afghanistan from where terrorism will not be able to threaten other countries and which can fully rely on its own forces in creating security on its territory;

Counter-Terrorism & Counter-Narcotics
(16) Condemn the recent heinous attacks against the people of Afghanistan and express our strong solidarity, denounce terrorism in all its forms and manifestations without any distinction and acknowledge the serious and common threats emanating from the nexus between trans-national terrorism, narcotics and organized crime to the security and stability of Afghanistan, the region and the international community at large;
(17) Emphasize the importance of practical regional and international cooperation for the elimination of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in accordance with the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant UNSC resolutions;
(18) Stress the importance of intensified practical efforts by the Government of Afghanistan in cooperation with regional and international partners to address drug production and trafficking, precursor and weapons smuggling as a main source of financing terrorism;
(19) Recognize that terrorism, narcotics and organized crime are interlinked global threats and require a common strategy based on the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy;
(20) Affirm that all security assistance to Afghanistan should be provided through the Afghan Government and strongly oppose any provision of financial support, material assistance or arms to the Taliban and ISIS/Daesh, which only serves to destabilize Afghanistan and prolong the conflict;

REGIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION

(21) Support the recent progress in regional economic cooperation and connectivity projects that recognize Afghanistan as a natural land-bridge connecting Central Asia with South Asia and the wider region. Economic integration of Afghanistan in the region will further contribute to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the wider region;
(22) Stress that the timely implementation of regional trade-transit, transport, energy, infrastructure, communication projects connecting Afghanistan to its immediate neighbourhood and the wider region will provide tangible benefit to the people of the region, as a whole, improve livelihoods, and reinforce ongoing efforts to promote peace and combat terrorism and illicit activities;
(23) Acknowledge that, drawing on the previous initiatives, the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan: Peace Process, Security Cooperation & Regional Connectivity provided a unique opportunity for open and comprehensive discussions on a wide range of issues regarding the Afghan peace process, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics efforts, regional economic cooperation and stimulated the elaboration of mutually agreed solutions;
(24) Express deep gratitude to the Government of Uzbekistan for the traditional hospitality and excellent organization of the high-level Conference in Tashkent, as well as the determined efforts to establish a broad and firm regional and international consensus on the issues of peace, security and regional connectivity.
This declaration was adopted in Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, by Afghanistan, China, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, EU and UN.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev: improvement of villages will change people’s outlook, strengthen their desire to live better
On April 26, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting dedicated to issues of qualitative organization and acceleration of activities on improvement of villages in accordance with the program “Obod qishloq” (“Prosperous village”). This was reported by the Press Service of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Due to the lack of an integrated approach to implementation of construction and improvement works, the architectural appearance of rural settlements has ceased to meet modern requirements. The building was run randomly, and infrastructure facilities were abandoned.
– It is easy to imagine the mood of people living in dysfunctional places with deplorable infrastructure. In general, why should our citizens live in such places? Improvement of villages will change people’s outlook, strengthen their desire to live better, raise the economy of villages. As a result, our entire Motherland and the economy will get a powerful impetus to development, said Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
“Obod qishloq” program was developed for phased improvement of all villages of Uzbekistan, based on this experience. The decree and the resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan of March 29 of this year identified important tasks and mechanisms for implementation of this program.
In accordance with the program, this year it is planned to carry out large-scale construction and improvement activities in 2 villages of each district, beginning next year – every year in 3 villages of each district.
In particular, this year projects on 368 villages have been approved. They provide for repair and improvement of 127 thousand houses, laying 1,9 thousand kilometers of drinking water supply networks, almost 2 thousand kilometers of electric and 263 kilometers of gas supply networks, construction and repair of 850 social facilities and 2,4 thousand objects of market infrastructure, major repairs of 440 kilometers of roads, purchasing 470 modern buses, construction of more than 330 stops and opening new bus routes.
The President particularly touched upon every aspect of organization, financing, design and qualitative implementation of these large-scale works. Gave instructions on development of master plans for villages, allocating necessary funds for this, and effective organization of activities of special staff.
It was noted that timely and qualitative execution of the program depends on supply of construction materials. Issues of delivery of necessary materials in sufficient quantity and at affordable prices were also discussed.
Khokimiyats have been tasked to determine the range and volume of construction materials necessary for repairing houses and organize their sale in rural areas.
Particular attention was paid to the need for increasing the spirituality and legal culture of the population, eliminating dependent mood in some people, explaining importance of improving their own homes on their own.
Instructions were given for improving the state of engineering communications and social infrastructure at places, ensuring population’s need for domestic services, creating new jobs.
At the meeting, information of responsible persons on measures taken to implement “Obod qishloq” program was heard. Relevant instructions were given on the discussed issues.
About the forthcoming state visit of the President of Turkey to Uzbekistan
On April 29 – May 1, 2018 at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a state visit to Uzbekistan.
In continuation of the political dialogue at the highest level, held on October 25-26, 2017, within the framework of the state visit of the President of Uzbekistan to Turkey, it is planned to discuss ways of further building up multifaceted cooperation, consolidating and developing new promising trends in bilateral relations, in Tashkent. A special attention will be paid to regional and international agenda, including issues of countering global and regional challenges and threats.
In accordance with the format of the state visit, the President of Turkey will address the joint session of the chambers of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The leaders of the two countries will also take part in a joint business forum of heads of leading banks and companies of Uzbekistan and Turkey.
Delegation of Turkey will visit Bukhara during the visit.
Following the results of Uzbekistan – Turkey summit, it is planned to adopt a Joint Statement of the heads of states with assessments of the current state of bilateral relations and their dynamic development.
Interstate, intergovernmental and interdepartmental documents in various spheres, as well as a number of investment agreements are expected to be signed within the framework of the visit.
Social Policy: Expertise and Achievements
Earlier this week, Tashkent hosted an international conference “Strategy of Actions and Strong Social Policy: International Practice and Experience of Uzbekistan”, organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of our country.
Representatives of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Pan-European Regional Council of the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Organization of Employers, the diplomatic corps, experts and scientists from more than 30 countries, offices of international organizations accredited in Uzbekistan, as well as trade unions of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Moldova, Nepal, Pakistan, Serbia, Turkey and Zambia attended the conference. The forum contributors also included members of the Oliy Majlis, leaders and officials of judicial and law enforcement agencies, ministries and other government agencies, academic and civil society institutions of Uzbekistan, representatives of national and foreign media.
The conference sought to bring to the attention of the international community the results of a robust social policy spearheaded under the leadership of the President of Uzbekistan within the framework of the Strategy of Actions and approved state programs, determining the level of cohesion and prospects for partnership between government bodies, trade unions, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other civil society institutions in the work on social protection of the population.
As chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan K. Rafikov noted at the forum, new trends are gaining momentum in the Central Asian region, favorable opportunities for resolving long-overdue problems, expanding trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties and strengthening social protection for all strata of the population are opening up. In this regard, it is of fundamental importance to deeply comprehend the emerging realities, to determine the priority areas of social partnership. Today, the people of Uzbekistan with great enthusiasm and hopes carry out large-scale reforms conducted under the direct leadership of the head of state Shavkat Mirziyoyev. A consistent, purposeful work is carried out to improve the public and social system, the social and economic life of the country.
“The Strategy of Actions for the five priority areas of development of our country through to 2021 reflects the three fundamental appeals of the UN – peace and security, sustainable development and human rights,” K. Rafikov said. “It should be noted that in Uzbekistan 60% of the state budget is directed to the socio-cultural sphere: education, health, culture, social protection of low-income families. The leadership of the country pays paramount attention to increasing the welfare of our population.”
The forum presented figures and facts that clearly characterize the changes taking place in Uzbekistan. In particular, it was noted that thanks to system reforms people’s aspirations for liberalization of the monetary system and free conversion of our monetary unit – sum. The transition to the new system was relatively painless due to the stabilization measures adopted by the head of state and the government and without a shock load on the gold and foreign exchange reserves. This allowed to reverse the observed tendency to reduce foreign investment, as well as sharply increase the entrepreneurial activity of citizens.
Today, the entire Uzbekistan has turned into a large construction site. As a result of the changes aimed at ensuring the interests of each person, this year alone, in the cities of the country there will be built twice as much social housing as in 2017, including about 1,500 apartments for young families, 3,000 flats for women with disabilities, and also 100 apartment buildings for military servicemen. In rural areas, more than 20 thousand houses will be built with all urban conditions, at preferential prices and mortgage terms.
Worthy of attention are the results achieved in the social and labor sphere. In particular, in cooperation with the ILO and other international organizations, the practice of child and forced labor in agriculture has been eradicated. For a short period, long-standing territorial, water and other disputes with neighboring states were resolved. Free passage through border crossings for citizens of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan is ensured.
Participants in the international conference were presented with a video message from the Director-General of the International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder, and the video greeting of the Secretary-General of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow.
Participants of the forum in their speeches noted that such a large-scale nature of creative reforms in Uzbekistan has no analogues in the world. Their main focus is to turn attention to each specific person, his daily needs and concerns.
The Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan, forming its activity on the basis of the Strategy of Actions along Five Priority Tracks for the Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, has defined its place and role in the implementation of systematic works aimed at ensuring the rights and legitimate interests of workers and in conjunction with state bodies, business structures, other public institutions are engaged in their practical implementation. Trade unions take an active part in the implementation of strong and targeted social protection of the population together with their partners. Targeted activities in this direction are included in the General Agreement concluded between the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Federation of Trade Unions and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Uzbekistan. On the basis of the General Agreement, more than 100 sectoral and 14 territorial agreements were concluded, and at enterprises – more than 171 thousand collective agreements. All of them contain a set of measures aimed at the social support of workers and their families.
Trade unions of the republic promote systematic work to gradually increase the real incomes of workers, wages, expand the system of training demanded in the labor market, the vocational training of the unemployed, and broad coverage of the able-bodied population with advanced training and retraining. The measures provided for in legislative documents for the support and social protection of socially vulnerable sections of the population are being implemented. In cooperation with state bodies and employers, systematic work is carried out to provide social support for single elderly citizens, pensioners, disabled people, children with disabilities, low-income and large families. Systemic work is also being done to develop and implement measures for the social protection of persons engaged in non-traditional forms of employment and their family members, material support for low-income and large families, pensioners, veterans of war and labor is provided on the basis of collective agreements and agreements.
In particular, trade unions organized trips to historical cities and places of interest of the nation for more than 3 thousand veterans of labor and elderly citizens in 2017. In addition, utility bills for lonely people and those with disabilities were paid.
On the basis of collective agreements and agreements at the expense of employers and trade unions, material support was provided to the representatives of the older generation in the amount of 41.9 billion soums (currency rates of CB RU from 27.04.2018, 1$= 8068.17 soums). At the expense of the State budget, 2,366 veterans of the war and the labor front corrected health in the sanatoriums of the trade union system, and almost 8,000 working pensioners – free of charge or on a preferential basis.
In its activity, the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan is not limited to labor relations between the employer and the employee. It directly participates in social reforms. And in this sense, Uzbekistan is ready to promote the accumulated experience among the world community, discuss the most important problems of the world community, share effective solutions in their solution.
For example, in 2017, declared in the country by the Year of Dialogue with the People and Human Interest, the trade unions, together with non-governmental non-profit organizations, went to places for direct study and problem solving. They visited 2.16 million homes in Karakalpakstan, Bukhara, Jizzakh, Navoi, Samarkand, Syrdarya and Khorezm regions, and studied the lives of ordinary people.
The Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan in 2017-2018 also implements a number of targeted programs aimed at social protection of low-income segments of the population. In particular, on the basis of lists drawn up by working groups, concessional loans were given to low-income families wishing to engage in handicrafts, entrepreneurship, to purchase personal homestead lands, to raise cattle or poultry for economic support to the family. Hundreds of socially vulnerable families have been renovated, thousands of households have been provided with household appliances, hundreds of citizens who need medical assistance have been rehabilitated. This year, work continues in this direction.
The Federation of Trade Unions coordinates the supply of medicines to the population, which is one of the important types of social assistance. By now, several thousand “social pharmacies” are involved in remote areas and villages of the republic, which has removed some difficulties in the lives of the population of remote areas. Now, this experience is envisaged in all regions of the country.
During the forum, national and international experts spoke on global issues of the day, including such areas as social and labor relations, international labor standards, social security, raising real incomes and employment levels, increasing women’s socio-political activity, developing entrepreneurship, trends of sustainable socio-economic development.
It is noted that today in the world labor market in solving tasks aimed at ensuring the rights and legitimate interests of working people, there are various challenges, difficulties and obstacles that blur the foundation of modern architecture of the social and labor sphere. According to the expert assessment of the International Labor Organization, the main global problems are the growth of informal employment, the consequences of which have a strong impact on the development of socio-economic sphere. Expansion of the informal sector affects the income received from taxation, the reduction of competitiveness in the real sector, and most importantly – the reduction and underfinancing of social programs. Active introduction of digital technologies leads to the fact that in a quarter of a century on the scale of the planet, 47% of jobs will be reduced. In the modern world, the number of socially insured workers is declining.
Kari Tapiola, Special Adviser to the Director-General of the International Labor Organization (ILO), made a presentation on “Minimum Standards of Social Security in the Light of New Global Challenges”. International expert, Professor of Economics Erik Reinert (Norway) in his speech focused on issues of economic and social development. Anton Leppik, executive secretary of the All-European Regional Council of the International Trade Union Confederation, also spoke on global issues of social protection, taking into account climate justice.
In his report “The current state and trends of socio-economic development in the CIS countries”, Secretary General of the General Confederation of Trade Unions, Vladimir Shcherbakov, emphasized that success in the development of a strong social policy is largely determined by the extent to which it takes into account and creatively uses the international including regional experience. He stressed that the achievements – both social development and national trade movement of Uzbekistan – have always been and remain an integral positive part of the common regional experience of the Commonwealth. The current conference makes it possible to get to know each other better, find ways to deepen the dialogue and make joint decisions, and develop a strong social policy.
Within the framework of the conference, foreign participants traveled to Samarkand and Tashkent regions. Guests on the example of ordinary people’s life got acquainted with the results of a strong social policy under the leadership of the head of state and large-scale reforms aimed at human interests.
The international conference continued its work yesterday. The panel discussions on four sections summed up. A meeting was held among leaders of the trade union centers of the Central Asian countries “The Century Initiative concerning the future sphere of work: perspective from trade unions”.
Contribution of Turkish investors to projects of “Urgut” free economic zone
In accordance with the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan of January 12, 2017, activities on implementation of 60 projects worth 196.2 million dollars are being carried out in “Urgut” free economic zone. 6 of these projects are developed with participation of Turkish companies and entrepreneurs.
– Currently, high-quality carpets and carpet products are manufactured with Turkish entrepreneurs in Urgut, – says head of the joint venture K.Asrorov. – Carpets produced by “Urgaz Carpet” under URGAZ brand have their customers not only in the domestic market, but also abroad.
Another promising project, implemented in the free economic zone, is a paint manufacturing plant for light industry goods, which is also created jointly with Turkish company TCD Tekstil Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S.
– Turkey has great experience in production of paints for industry, – says head of “Sam Vira Color” joint venture Jasur Soliyev. – And we currently have a great need for such products. Therefore, together with businessmen of Turkey, we are creating a joint venture in “Urgut” free economic zone. The total cost of the project is $2.5 million, of which $250 thousand is the share of foreign partners. Currently, construction is underway. We will soon begin producing products.
In addition, promising projects on production of gas stoves and electric ovens, modern vacuum cleaners and washing machines, sandwich panels, and diapers are being implemented in the free economic zone, in cooperation with Turkish businessmen.
Effective Replacement to Roaming
UZMOBILE is working on elaborating proposals to provide tourists with mobile communication across our country, a development that would allow them to stay in touch with their loved ones and friends, as well as share their impressions of the trip to Uzbekistan. Announced earlier in the news media, the concept of tourist SIM cards will be a worthy alternative to expensive roaming.
Launching UZMOBILE points of sale in the buildings of international airports and railway stations is now under consideration. It is projected that the service will be carried out for the accessibility of services in full.
To speed up the launch of the commercial SIM card in commercial operation, adaptation is carried out on the basis of several existing tariff plans. They will absorb the most popular products and services, such as included packages of voice calls, SMS and internet traffic.
The introduction of tourist SIM cards involves the creation and improvement of the relevant infrastructure, as well as obtaining the necessary permits. In particular, it is necessary to install special equipment in the premises of airports, railway stations, which will improve the quality of communication in enclosed spaces. On this issue, negotiations are already underway with the leadership of the National Air Company Uzbekistan Airways; in the active phase are exploration works for the installation of equipment.
There are other issues that need to be addressed. In accordance with the established procedure for the sale of services and goods in the territory of international airports, it is necessary to sell services in an isolated room, and the registration of SIM cards is only for foreign citizens who must have a temporary registration in our country. It is obvious that when a tourist arrives in our country, when a SIM card is inserted, the guest gets to the legal field of the requirements for using mobile services that require a solution. For this reason, proposals are being prepared for the Ministry for the Development of Information Technologies and Communications to further ensure the access of tourists to mobile communications and overcome existing barriers.
UZMOBILE also intends to expand the sales channels of tourist SIM cards through hotel complexes and with home delivery. Work is in progress on the possibility of their delivery through online stores.
How do tourists know about the special offer from the company? Extensive public awareness campaign will be conducted already on board of airliners. Information about tourist SIM cards for guests of our country can be placed on special inserts together with a security sheet. In the buildings of airports and train stations, in places where tourists gather, there will appear pointers leading to premises of sale. In addition, information is provided to tourists through international sites and social networks, where data on tourist SIM cards will be promoted in the territories of countries with the largest tourist flow to Uzbekistan. An important aspect is the training of employees of the call center UZMOBILE, whose purpose is to serve subscribers in English.
In accordance with this, UZMOBILE is working on the development of proposals to provide tourists with mobile communications in our country, which will allow them to stay in touch with their loved ones and friends, and share their impressions of the trip to Uzbekistan. Moreover, the concept of tourist SIM cards announced earlier in the news media will be a worthy alternative to expensive roaming.

28.04.2018
Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan,
Islamabad

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