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New President of Uzbekistan promises large-scale economic reforms
Improvement in peoples live and consistency in the internal and foreign policy
On December 14th, the newly elected President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev took an oath as a head of that country for upcoming five years. The ceremony was held during the joint session of Senate and Legislative Chamber of Parliament of Uzbekistan in the capital – Tashkent. As it has been a tradition, head of foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations were present at the ceremony.
As a foreign observer from Malaysia, I participated in the monitoring of the Presidential Elections in Uzbekistan on December 4th this year. Four candidates were running for the presidency. They represented four political parties who have seats at the Uzbek Parliament. They are: the Acting president – Prime minister of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the leader of the party “National Revival” Sarvar Otamuratov, the chairman of the council of the Social-Democratic Party “The Justice” Narimon Umarov and the chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Khotomjon Ketmonov.
The Central Electoral Commission of Uzbekistan established the fact that of 20.5 million voters on the electoral roll, almost 18 million took part in the process of voting. That is 87.73 % of the voters.
Five international organizations, such as the OSCE, CIS, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Association of World Election Bodies and OIC, as well as nearly 600 observers from 46 states of Europe, America and Asia observed the processes of preparation and conduct of the presidential elections. This is a clear evidence that this political campaign was held transparently on the basis of democratic requirements. More than 37 thousand observers from political parties also actively participated in monitoring the elections.
For the first time in the history of presidential elections full-scale mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Bureau on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights visited Uzbekistan. Mission did send more than 200 representatives from 32 states of this international structure to monitor the electoral process, particularly, from the point of democratic principles.
According to the results of the presidential elections, Mr. Mirziyoyev received 88.61 percent of the votes and on December 9th he was declared as an official winner of the elections.
Absolute majority of assessments of the elections do underline that voting went smoothly, transparently and reflect the true will of Uzbek people. Majority of foreign observers state that the elections were conducted in the atmosphere of sound competition and struggle among the political parties, in full conformity with the provisions of national legislation and international standards on elections.
The main question for international observers is what was the key motivation that insured victory for Shavkat Mirziyoyev?!
First of all, Mr. Mirziyoyev was the chief of economic administer of the Republic of Uzbekistan since 2003. He has unmatched experience, authority and respect among all the ministries and agencies dealing with economy, finance, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, urban development and similar areas, as well as private companies. As it is stipulated in the Constitution of Uzbekistan, all issues of foreign policy, national security and defense are in exclusive authority of the President of Uzbekistan.
As an international observer to the presidential elections I had many opportunities to talk to many citizens of Uzbekistan during my visit to that country. I learned that a far majority of the Uzbek population were quite satisfied with performance and achievements of the central government in Tashkent. I should note that projects and reforms, initiated by Shavkat Mirziyoyev since September 2016, are quite popular in this country. Among them a major renovation of the capital, reforms in agriculture, a large scale of housing projects in regional capitals and rural areas of the regions, as well as adjustments in cultural life and etc.
His initiative to announce an International art contest for the creation of a monument for the First President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has received wide support among Uzbek population. This tribute traditionally has been done in the countries of the East, especially in Moslem world. .
One of the innovations that have been introduced by Mr. Mirziyoyev is establishment of “virtual reception”. Starting from 2017 the system will be introduced, according to which, the governors and mayors of all levels, branches of prosecutor’s office, home ministry and other agencies will have to answer to request of the people.
There will also be established the “public receptions” in each and every district and city.
Mr. Mirziyoyev adopted decrees in strengthening authority of courts, currency liberalization, spheres of agriculture and entrepreneurship. All of them are highly welcomed by International financial institutions, investors and foreign governments.
Another attractive and positive sign that comes from the new initiatives, is ongoing process of strengthening bilateral relations with the neighboring countries. His initiatives to sort out and solve palpitating bilateral problems on delimitation and demarcation boundaries with neighboring countries are widely popular not only among the Uzbek population, but entire Central Asia. These steps do promote regional stability, economic interests of Uzbekistan, increase “people to people” contacts and mutual trust in international arena especially at this time. All we face the growing terrorist threats, looming migration crisis in many parts the world, violence in the Middle East and North Africa, volatility of the global economy and finance, instability in Eastern Europe and internal fragmentation facing the EU.
Attention is paid to strengthening the civil society. In his inauguration speech, Mr. Mirziyoyev paid special attention to necessity of comprehensive up breaking of Uzbek youth. At present, the youth up to 30 years of age make up 32 percent of Uzbekistan’s population, or 10 million people.
Here I would like to draw your attention to the triumph of Uzbek sportsmen in Rio Olympics this year. In Asia Uzbekistan took the 4th place, after China, Japan and South Korea. Among the 207 national teams Uzbekistan has become the 21th, ahead of many leading sport powers, whose representatives traditionally participate with success in international tournaments. It should be emphasized that the boxing team of Uzbekistan has secured the title of the strongest teams in the world and takes the first place in the ranking by earned medals: 7 out of 10 boxers who performed in Rio under the flag of Uzbekistan, were awarded medals.
Experts consider this result as an outcome of adopted in late 90s State programs to facilitated massive participation of children in sports, promotion on state level of ideas about healthy lifestyle, massive state investment program to build hundreds and hundreds of sport facilities across Uzbekistan, as well as state financing of active participation of Uzbek sportsmen in international sports events.
As it has been a tradition in Uzbekistan since mid 90s every year is given special priority areas of state and public attention. The 2015 was announced as the “Year of Attention and Care for Elder People”. 2016 – “Year of Healthy Mother and Children”. And the year 2017 is announced as the “Year of dialogue with people and human interests”.
I would like to specially underline the bright prospects of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Malaysia and ASEAN region.
Both countries are united common religion, similarity in traditions, complementary character of economy, respect for elderly, common family values and mutual respect of Malay and Uzbek peoples.
Uzbekistan is one of the ancient centers of Islamic civilization, with unique historical and cultural monuments in Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and other cities.
Country is a host of Great Medieval thinkers and Islamic philosophers, like Imam al-Bukhari; founder of modern medicine – Abu Ali Ibn Sina (more famous in Europe as Avicenna). Founder of modern mathematics – Abu Abdullah Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi.
As acknowledgment of Uzbekistan to Islam and the Islamic civilization, in 2016 Uzbekistan is elected to be chair of Organization of Islamic Cooperation. On October 18-19th this year Tashkent hosted 43rd session of Council of Ministers of OIC Countries.
Malaysia is a key and major partner of Uzbekistan among ASEAN countries and as such considered by Tashkent as a hub to expand bilateral and multilateral political, trade and economic and humanitarian cooperation with member-states of Association. Economies of Malaysia and Uzbekistan and are mostly mutually complimentary. This means, that Malaysian products produced here are of great demand in Uzbek market, and vise-versa, Uzbek manufactured industrial products and especially textile, fruits, vegetables and other types of food-staffs are of big demand in our market.
One example: the volume of trade and economic cooperation it 2015 between Malaysia and Uzbekistan stood up at over $103.9 million, the biggest figure of Uzbek trade with any of ASEAN member country. And vice-versa, today Uzbekistan is the biggest trade partner of our country among all Central Asian countries.
The most promising spheres of cooperation is tourism. Uzbekistan is an important destination for Malaysian in the field of tourism and it seeks to expand cooperation in this field. Every year more and more tourists from Uzbekistan are visiting Malaysia. Now about 11 thousand Uzbeks visiting Malaysia each year because National Airways Company “Uzbekiston Xavo Yullari” carried out 2 flight a week, which provides a good opportunity for many Uzbeks to visit Malaysia. The presence of these flights is a platform for the promotion of tourism services in Uzbekistan and to increase the number of tourists from Malaysia to Uzbekistan. Many Malaysians can visit the historic sites that are the heritage of Islamic culture, as well as to carry out a small “Umrah”.
An article by:
Dato’ Dr Mohd Yusof Hj. Othman, Director of the Institute of Islam Hadhari, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia