In recent years, Uzbekistan has been pursuing an increasingly active foreign policy not only in its region, but elsewhere in the world. The authority of Tashkent has also grown in a number of international organizations and within the framework of international integration processes.

Uzbekistan cooperates with multilateral institutions both at the regional and global levels. In this context, Uzbekistan’s activities within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are of particular importance. This year, Uzbekistan is chairing this organization and intends to play an increasingly decisive role in it.

Today, the SCO is an organization spanning three continents — Asia, Europe and Africa. The total territory of the SCO member countries exceeds 34 million square kilometers, which is more than 60% that of Eurasia. About half of the world’s population — 3 billion people — live in the SCO member countries. The organization unites eight permanent members, including China, Russia, India and Pakistan, which have the status of nuclear powers, along with four observer states and nine dialogue partners.

As a rule, a meeting of the heads of the SCO member states is held annually. In 2004, 2010 and 2016 the meetings were held in Uzbekistan, which will chair the event this year for the fourth time. As chairman of the SCO since September 2021, Uzbekistan, on the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is promoting an active policy in addressing emerging challenges during this turbulent period.

Since Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016, Uzbekistan has pursued a “good neighbor” foreign policy and given great attention to strengthening security in Central Asia.

In this regard, the position, influence and leadership of Uzbekistan within the SCO have significantly strengthened. During the meetings of the heads of SCO member states from 2017 to 2021, the Uzbek president put forward important initiatives on 50 issues.

Uzbekistan’s initiatives reflect its national interests and priority areas for development, and fully comply with the main tasks aimed at sustainable development of its region. That is why these initiatives are widely supported by all members of the organization.

The new foreign policy strategy of Uzbekistan over the past five years is clearly reflected in the activities of the SCO. Recently, Uzbekistan has openly declared a need to direct the organization’s huge potential toward the development of cooperation in such important and practical areas as transport, connectivity and logistics, innovative and digital development, as well as cultural and public diplomacy.

A number of important proposals of the president aimed at expanding the SCO’s agenda also have been implemented.

In November 2021, for the first time within the framework of the organization, ministerial-level meetings were held under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan on information and communication technologies, with similar meetings on poverty reduction held on Jan. 25

At the suggestion of the president, within the framework of the SCO, the first high-level meeting on Afghanistan will be held in July, which will serve to further strengthen the country’s authority in regional and international arenas.

As chairman of the SCO, Uzbekistan plans to organize the largest number of international events in its history: 80. Among them are the SCO summit (Sept. 15 and 16 in Samarkand), the SCO foreign ministers meeting (July 28 and 29 in Tashkent) and the high-level meeting on Afghanistan (July 27 and 28 in Tashkent). The main goals of the events are the development of economic cooperation in the region and the coordination of issues to ensure regional security.

In May, Tashkent hosted the international tourism forum titled “A New Stage of Cooperation Between the SCO Countries: Tourism and Cultural Heritage,” as well as a meeting of the sports ministers of the SCO countries. During the events, specific goals and objectives were developed and agreements were formed that the parties will sign on the sidelines of the SCO leaders summit in September.

As can be seen, the main events and documents that will be adopted under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan are aimed at broadly demonstrating and promoting the domestic and foreign policies, priority goals and objectives of the new Uzbekistan.

The main results of Uzbekistan’s chairmanship will be summed up at the summit scheduled for September in Samarkand. The summit will undoubtedly become a major political and diplomatic forum and will go down in history as an important step toward the further evolution of the organization.

The active, open, pragmatic and constructive foreign policy pursued by Uzbekistan will create a solid basis for making important decisions and documents within the framework of the upcoming summit. The 21st SCO Summit in September will raise the historically close relations of its members to a new level, taking into account the changing international environment.