Initiatives of Uzbekistan and their role in strengthening the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
As one of the founding countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Uzbekistan along with other Member States defines the development strategy of the SCO. Since its establishment in 2001 due to efforts made by our country in this direction significant progress has been achieved in improving the activities of the organization, particularly, the establishment and strengthening of fruitful cooperation between its members, as well as with other global and regional institutions. Uzbekistan, as known, supports strict compliance with the goals, objectives and principles established in the Charter of the SCO which aimed at ensuring the safety and stability, improving the socio-economic well-being of the region, increasing the performance and international prestige of the organization. Particular attention is attached to strengthening the openness of the structure that excludes confrontational or bloc orientation. During the first presidency of Uzbekistan in the SCO (in 2003-2004, the second time the country led the association in 2009-2010) important documents in terms of the institutional establishment of the organization have been signed: Regulations on the status of observer at the SCO and Order of SCO interaction with observers. As a result, in 2004, Mongolia gained observer status, and in 2005 India, Pakistan and Iran. In addition, a significant event was the signing of the Agreement on cooperation in fight against illegal trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their precursors, which created a legal framework for multilateral cooperation to counter the threat of drugs. Furthermore, since January 2004 the Executive Committee of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO started functioning in Tashkent. This permanent body has become an effective tool and platform for combining efforts and practical cooperation between law enforcement bodies and special services of the SCO member states in the fight against radical, violent extremism and separatism, organized crime. In this connection we recall that on 8 April of the current year our capital hosted the 28th Meeting of RATS Council during which the results for the implementation of the Cooperation Program of SCO member states and other acts were discussed in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2013-2015. In 2004, the Institute of Meetings of Security Councils Secretaries was created on the initiative of the Uzbekistan, which is a coordinating and consultative mechanism for security cooperation in the SCO framework. The first meeting in this format was held in Tashkent in June of the same year. Since then, they are conducted yearly and play an important role in the study, analysis and evaluation of the security situation, the coordination of efforts of the SCO countries to stand together against the challenges and threats. The negotiations within the framework of such meetings contribute to the development of common approaches in timely response to traditional and new threats, and thereby increase the practical effectiveness of the organization's activities in the field of ensuring peace and sustainable progress. On April 13-14, 2016 in Tashkent under the chairmanship of the Uzbek side it was held the eleventh meeting of Secretaries of Security Councils of the SCO member states. During the meeting the sides exchanged views on the situation in the sphere of security and stability in the area of organization, discussed the issues of further advancement of cooperation and improving mechanisms of interaction in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, illicit trafficking of weapons and drugs, other modern challenges and threats. In 2010 (during the second presidency of Uzbekistan in the SCO) it was also signed substantial package of documents aimed at further development of cooperation, expanding external contacts of the organization, an effective solution to problems of peace, tranquility and steady progress in the vast region. Thus, thanks to the active diplomatic work undertaken by our country in the second period of its presidency, in April 2010 during the visit of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the UN and the SCO has been signed in Tashkent. This document marked the beginning of official cooperation between the two associations.