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ADDRESS BY H.E. MR. ISLAM KARIMOV, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN, AT THE PLENARY SESSION OF THE UN MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS SUMMIT
Source: Information Agency "Jahon", 24.09.2010
Distinguished Mr. Chairman!
One of the most serious obstacles, as it is underscored in the UN Millennium Declaration, in the course of struggle against poverty, misery, hunger, growth of maternal and child mortality, epidemics and other problems of humanity are the ongoing wars and conflicts on our planet, continuing interstate, interethnic and inter-religious confrontations.
We see the confirmation of this truth in the example of long-suffering Afghanistan, where the military operations have already been continuing for more than 30 years.
Today it becomes more obvious that there is no military solution of the Afghan problem, and the chosen strategy of the coalition forces to bring peace to Afghanistan does not bear the expected results. Every new day of the continuing war even more deteriorates the disastrous state of the people of Afghanistan and even more complicates the solution of the problem itself.
In the current situation it becomes utterly important to search the alternative ways of achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan. Among them, in our opinion, creation of the Contact Group “6+3” under the United Nations auspices, which was proposed by Uzbekistan yet in 2008, could play a significant role.
The meaning and essence of our initiative are based on the idea that the problems of Afghanistan must be resolved by the Afghans themselves along with the assistance of the states, which proceeding from their security objectives, are interested in ending the war and a stable future of Afghanistan.
Among them, above all, one should refer to the United States, NATO and Russia, which are concretely engaged in peacemaking mission, as well as the immediate neighbors of Afghanistan.
The most important objectives of the “6+3” Contact Group are to propose to the confronting parties the Program of secession of military operations in Afghanistan, find compromise solutions on the key problems and contradictions which divide the country, ensure security and provide necessary guarantees.
The negotiations, in our opinion, must be held with all major confronting forces.
Along with this, the first and foremost attention in the Program must be paid to rendering the economic aid, implementing the social, infrastructural and humanitarian projects, tackling the problems of unemployment, urgent tasks to eliminate poverty, misery and violation of rights. It is necessary to show a full respect to the centuries-old traditions, customs and values of the religion of Islam adhered by the people of Afghanistan.
The coalition peacemaking forces that are still based in Afghanistan can facilitate achievement of the set goal.
The tragic events that took place in June 2010 in Kyrgyzstan bear a serious threat to stability of situation in the Central Asian region.
The last April overthrow of the presidential power which had discredited itself, the followed tension and confrontation, as well as the vacuum in terms of legitimate power in the country served as a prologue to provoke in the south of Kyrgyzstan the cruel and bloody events on interethnic basis. As a result of these events, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of peaceful citizens suffered.
Today we have all grounds to state that the Kyrgyz nationals themselves and numerous Uzbek diaspora living in the south of the country became hostages of a deeply thought-out and well-organized action on the part of the third forces. This action was aimed not only at instigating chaos and uncontrollable situation in the country, but also pursued far reaching goals to draw Uzbekistan into this brutal massacre and finally turn the interethnic standoff into an interstate confrontation of the two neighboring states – Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
In this extremely complex and explosive situation it became the hardest problem for us to prevent the forethought scenario of events. It cost us a profound straining of power and resources to receive in our territory more than one hundred thousand refugees, children, women and elderly, give shelter, accommodate and provide them with all the necessary. And at the same time, we did not allow the most brutal violence to expand, managed to preserve tranquility in the bordering territory, exclude any surge of emotions, passions and extremism which could lead to unpredictable consequences.
It was only a sound reason and comprehension of a simple truth that since many centuries Uzbeks and Kyrgyzs have lived side by side on this land, and that their children and descendants will continue living together for many coming centuries, gave us and our people the power to prevent the situation when this tragedy is turned into a new large-scale confrontation spot in Central Asia.
It is obvious that today Kyrgyzstan needs a humanitarian assistance and support from neighbors and the world community.
However, it is not less important task to conduct an independent International inquiry of the pogroms, murders and violence committed on June 11-14 in the south of Kyrgyzstan in order to bring to trial all those who ordered, organized and executed those bloody outrages.
I am convinced that the timely holding of objective and independent international investigations which rule out any prejudice and one-sided approach, firm and principle position of the international community can pave the way to reconciliation and accord between the Kyrgyzs and the Uzbek minority in the south of Kyrgyzstan. Any deviation from these positions may lead to the situation when the tragic events can repeat again and the emergence of a very dangerous source of tension in the south of Kyrgyzstan.
In this connection, we can rightfully expect the United Nations to provide comprehensive assistance in conducting the independent International investigation of the tragic events. This will allow to prevent a possible escalation of events in the neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
Protecting and preserving environment acquires an enormous significance to achieve the goals set by the Millennium Declaration, especially under the conditions of contemporary anomalous climate changes.
The tragedy of Aral which practically during a lifetime of one generation has turned from once one of the unique and most beautiful seas into a drying and vanishing water reservoir stands as a vivid example and evidence of our irresponsible attitude towards the environmental problems.
For forty years the water area of the Aral Sea shrank for more than 7 times, the volume of water decreased for 13 times, its mineralization increased for tens times, having made the sea improper place for living organisms. As a result, practically all kinds of flora and fauna fully degraded and disappeared.
By today a complex set of not only environmental, but also socio-economic and demographic problems, that have planetary-scale consequences, has emerged in the area adjacent to Aral. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon became convinced of this during his travel to the Aral Sea area earlier this year.
Because of the ongoing drying up of the Aral Sea and unfolding humanitarian catastrophe around it, today’s most important task is to preserve the natural biological pool of the area adjacent to Aral, reduce the disastrous impacts of the Aral crisis on the environment, and most importantly, on the life of hundreds of thousands and millions of people living there.
It is necessary to take into consideration that the area around the Aral Sea is supplied with water at the expense of the watercourses of the two main rivers – Amudarya and Syrdarya, and any decrease of the watercourse of these rivers means a radical disturbance of the existing fragile environmental balance in the entire vast region.
And in these conditions any attempts to implement projects drafted 30-40 years ago, yet in the Soviet period, to construct in the upper stream of these rivers the large-scale hydropower facilities with gigantic dams, and moreover, if to take into account that the seismicity of the area of forthcoming construction makes up 8-9 points, - all of these may inflict an irreparable damage to environment and will be a reason for the most dangerous man-caused catastrophes which we have been witnessing for over the last years.
As many international ecological organizations and respected experts recommend, it would be much more rational to switch to building less dangerous, but more economical small Hydropower Stations to have on these rivers the same energy power generating capacities.
The problems of the drying up Aral Sea are the problems of millions of people living in this region, who hope for assistance and appeal to such a high-profile organization as the United Nations.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to very briefly inform the Summit about the concrete steps made by Uzbekistan on the way to achieve the goals set in the Millennium Declaration.
Only 19 years have passed since the time when the Republic of Uzbekistan became an independent state and joined the ranks of full-fledged members of the United Nations.
For over the years of independent development Uzbekistan with its one-sided hypertrophied, raw-based economy, destructive monopoly of cotton raw production, primitive production and social infrastructure and low per capita consumption level secured achievements which have entirely changed its image and place in the world community.
During these years the gross domestic product grew for 3.5 times and in per capita – for 2.5 times, the average salary – for 14 times. The expenditures of the state for social sphere and social protection have grown for more than 5 times. Annually, over 50 percent of the State budget is channeled to the social sphere.
At the moment, provision of the population with pure drinking water reached 82.5 percent and natural gas – 83.5 percent. The resolute steps have been made to radically reform and develop the healthcare system, liquidate and considerably reduce the gravest infectious diseases.
The maternal mortality level has decreased for more than 2 times and the child mortality – for 3 times. The average life expectancy of people during this period has increased from 67 to 73 years, and of women – up to 75 years. Today 48 percent of all employed in the country are women.
Despite the serious impact of the global financial and economic crisis, Uzbekistan among few states in the world maintains stably high growth rates of economy and a reliable financial and banking system.
Thus, for over 2008-2009 the growth rates of economy made up 9 and 8.1 percent, respectively, and this year this index is expected at the level of 8.5 percent. The external state debt does not exceed 10 percent of the GDP.
Our own model of democratization of the country, transition to socially oriented free market economy adopted yet in the early years of our independence served as a foundation of these achievements. This model is based on such principles as stripping economy of an ideological bias and its priority over politics, assigning state the role of a main reformer, ensuring rule of law, conducting strong social policy, and providing consistency and gradualness in implementing reforms.
From the onset we have denied the methods of shock therapy and deceptive ideas about self-regulation of market economy imposed on us, chose the evolutionary approach in the transition from administrative-command towards market system of management, while acting in line with the principle: “do not destroy the old house, until you build a new one”, as well as “reforms are not for the sake of reforms, but for a man”.
I would like to especially underscore an enormous role and significance, which the educational process and growth of people’s consciousness are acquiring in all these transformations.
In Uzbekistan the annual expenditures for education make up 10-12 percent of the GDP, while this indicator does not exceed 3-5 percent in the world practice. The unique National program for personnel training has been implemented in the country. From 2009 mandatory 12-year education was introduced.
Uzbekistan sees its most important perspective in joining the ranks of the developed states in the world, continuing and deepening political, economic reforms and modernizing the country, developing civil society and on this basis ensuring worthy living standards for its citizens.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that Uzbekistan supports the Global action plan on accelerating progress in achieving the Millennium development goals, proposed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and intends to take the most active part in its implementation.
Thank you for your attention.