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INFORMATION DIGEST No. 129

July 4, 2017

POLITICS
President sends condolences to Russia in connection with road accident in Tatarstan

President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev sent condolences to President of Russia Vladimir Putin in connection with a traffic accident in Tatarstan.

“With a feeling of deep sorrow and sadness I received the news of numerous human casualties and injuries as a result of a traffic accident involving a passenger bus in Tatarstan,” the President of Uzbekistan said.

“Please accept my sincere condolences and ask you to convey the words of sympathy to the relatives and friends of the deceased, as well as the wishes of a speedy recovery to all injured people," the President of Uzbekistan noted.

On the night of 2 July, near Zainsk city in the Republic of Tatarstan, a serious accident took place with the participation of a KamAZ truck, which was hauled by a MAN truck and the Neoplan passenger bus. The death toll was 14 people.
(Source: UzDaily.com)

President of Uzbekistan received the Mayor of Seoul

On July 3, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev received the Mayor of Seoul, Park Won Soon.

The Mayor of Seoul has specially arrived in Tashkent to personally present the invitation of the President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in to the President of our country to make a state visit to this country before the end of this year.

The head of our state, accepting the invitation with gratitude, emphasized that today relations of friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and strategic partnership firmly binds Uzbekistan and South Korea.

The Republic of Korea has traditionally been a leading investment and technological partner in implementation of priority programs on diversifying and modernizing industry and infrastructure in our country. Dozens of major projects have been implemented and are being implemented in various sectors of the economy, attracting investments of leading South Korean companies and banks for more than 7 billion dollars.

Bilateral relations are expanding in scientific and technical, cultural and humanitarian spheres, in medicine and education.

Undoubtedly, intensive contacts at the highest level contributed to the achievement of the modern high level interaction and close cooperation.

Issues of development of practical cooperation between sister cities, the capitals of our states – Tashkent and Seoul, in accordance with the “Road Map” adopted today were also discussed at the meeting.

Particular attention was paid to attracting advanced South Korean experience in the sphere of organization of an effective city management system, development of a modern transport system, housing and communal services based on widespread application of modern technologies. The importance of active interaction in the field of urban planning, architecture and landscape design was noted.

An agreement was reached on regular mutual visits in order to prepare and promote promising projects and programs of mutually beneficial cooperation between the capitals of the two countries.
(Source: UzA)

OFFICIALLY
In Uzbekistan young deputy heads of ministry and agency are appointed

On 3 July, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev appointed new deputy minister of public education of Uzbekistan.

According to the presidential resolution, Alisher Sadullayev was appointed to the post of deputy minister of public education of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

23-year-old Alisher Sadullaev is a graduate of the Singapore Institute of Management Development in Tashkent. He worked as the director of the training center Result.

By another resolution, the head of Uzbekistan released Dilshod Kenjyev from the post of deputy minister of public education of Uzbekistan in connection with his transfer to another job.

* * *

The Government of Uzbekistan appointed a new Deputy Director General in the Agency for Science and Technology.

According to the Government’s resolution, Olimjon Tuychiev was appointed to the post of Deputy Director General in the Agency for Science and Technology.

Olimjon Tuychiev will coordinate the activities of four departments of the agency - the Technology Transfer and Innovation Fairs Division, the International Science and Technology Cooperation Development Division, the Information and Communication Technology Division and the Post-Graduate Education Coordination Division.
(Source: UzDaily.com)

INVESTMENTS
President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has approved the Program for Further Development and Modernization of the Coal Industry by 2021

The document was approved due to serious shortcomings revealed in the work of the Uzbekugol company. They mainly lied in inefficient operation of equipment, weak production discipline, serious lag in modernization of capacities and implementation of certain investment projects.

According to experts, this led to a significant decline in the performance of the industry over the past five years. So, for example, this resulted in underrun of 128.9 million cubic meters in terms of mine stripping, over 4 million tons of coal production, and 320,500 tons of the concurrently mined kaolin.

President Mirziyoyev assigned to develop integrated measures to achieve target parameters for stripping and coal mining for the next five years, and specific ‘road maps’ for each investment project in the industry by the end of August. They should mandatorily stipulate mechanisms for the introduction of modern technologies and equipment with an eye to the best international practices that ensure a reduction in the cost of coal mining and mining safety.

The President placed a particular emphasis on the implementation of two new investment projects on the construction of the Angren and the Nish-Bash mines. Their total cost exceeds $340 million. Therefore, Uzbekistan intends to attract investments from international financial institutions and foreign government financial organizations.

In order to accelerate the upgrade of existing facilities, Shavkat Mirziyoyev released the company from customs payments for imported mining and transport equipment, technological equipment, vehicles, materials, spare parts and components, software, technical and project documentation, which are not produced in the republic, by December 31, 2021.

The program assigns a big part to staff training for the coal industry. The Ministry of Higher Education and core agencies are assigned to determine the list of subject areas and specialties the industry needs, indicating specific universities and colleges that will be engaged in the training of new staff, by the end of August.

It is also planned to seriously revise educational standards, curricula and programs, taking into account modern requirements and international experience, with mandatory training, practice and internship at enterprises of the industry. There is another important point. The industry will now have a mechanism to control and strengthen the responsibility of executives of educational institutions for employing their graduates at Uzbekugol enterprises and organizations by the profession and specialty they have chosen.

FIGURES

In 2016, the volume of stripping mining in the country amounted to 20.9 million cubic meters against 14.2 million cubic meters in 2012. Coal production increased by 125,000 tons and amounted to 3.9 million tons, the growth rates of commodity products in the industry reached 11, 2%.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
New Philosophy Imbued with the Spirit of the Strategy

Is there a risk of internationalization of the disagreements between India and Pakistan in the SCO format? Is it possible to establish multilateral cooperation in the field of integrated water resources management? Will it be possible to achieve full-fledged inter-Afghan reconciliation? What is the essence of Uzbekistan's current foreign policy on the development of multimodal transport corridors? These and many other urgent questions were answered by the participants of the regular meeting of the International Press Club (IPC) taken place last week in Tashkent.

There is interesting tendency with each new meeting of the IPC: sharp, sometimes tough questions are asked, sensitive topics are raised, and the answers become more frank and detailed which fosters the formation of trust between the leadership and citizens of the country. This became apparent during the recent meeting devoted to the priorities of Uzbekistan's foreign policy and its reaction to the topical challenges of our time.

The heroes of the event were: First Deputy Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis, Chairman of the IPC Public Council, Sadik Safayev, Chairman of the Committee on International Relations, Foreign Economic Relations, Foreign Investments and Tourism Alisher Kurmanov, Director of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (RATS SCO) Evgeny Sysoev and Head of the UNICEF office in Uzbekistan Sascha Graumann, as well as senators of the Oliy Majlis, representatives of ministries, experts, specialists, domestic and foreign media.

Different potential, general agenda

The question of the official entry of new members - India and Pakistan into the SCO was one of the most asked topic. This happened within the framework of the Astana summit, later their flags were raised at the headquarters of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

In recent years some foreign experts often called the SCO no more than a club for communication, but the accession to the organization of new members, in their opinion, deserves serious attention, as there are about 1.5 billion people in these two states. It turns out that in terms of scope and coverage, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has practically no equal among regional associations.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev: "We are convinced that the membership of India and Pakistan in the SCO will create fundamentally new opportunities for the further advancement of our multifaceted cooperation".

What is the advantage of Uzbekistan from joining of these countries into the organization? Sadik Safayev answered this question. In his opinion, the new members are very historically and culturally connected with Central Asia, especially with Uzbekistan. We must proceed from the fact that part of the problems in the region can be removed with the participation of India and Pakistan. For example, security issues that are difficult to solve without involving Delhi and Islamabad.

Considering that along with the major economic powers there are also the countries with less potential and the question was raised on how the interests of each country will be taken into account.

Director of the Information and Analytical Center for International Relations Eldor Aripov believes that all member countries have equal rights. "The Charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization emphasizes that all decisions are taken by consensus. The organization also has a Shanghai spirit - trust, mutual respect and consideration of the interests of all parties. Of course, countries have different potential, but they all have a common agenda. The aggregate potential allows all participants, both large and small, to achieve great results. Multilateral cooperation makes it possible to interact much more effectively in the field of development of transport communications, combating terrorism and attracting investments", the expert stressed.

Eldor Aripov also touched upon the issue of coordinating the positions of the SCO member countries after the enlargement. In this regard, he noted: "The expansion of the SCO is both a new opportunity, and certain challenges for unification. It is important that bilateral contradictions between individual countries are not brought to the multilateral platform".

This topic is no less sensitive for the Indian and Pakistani experts themselves. Talking about the disagreements in the relations, the scientific employee of the Islamabad Institute of Political Science Irfan Shahzad said: "This time we do not expect a repeat of the events that took place within the framework of the work of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Since SAARC and ECO have not justified their hopes, the SCO is becoming a regional organization and a forum of the future for Islamabad".

A similar point of view is shared by the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India G.V.Srinivas. He does not believe that tension with Pakistan will interfere with the work of the bloc: "The SCO is a constructive organization. Cooperation in areas where there are common ground is very beneficial for us all. It is not necessary that the issues on which we have differences, interfere with cooperation".

A similar opinion was expressed by the researcher of the Indian Council on Foreign Policy Issues in Delhi Aftar Zafar. "The risks of any negative impact on regional integration are minimal, since Pakistan, according to its mandate in the SCO, is not allowed to raise bilateral issues and impede regional cooperation", he said. "Expanding security cooperation through various mechanisms within the organization can help reduce the lack of trust among the members".

“Water” disputes

The active discussion at the meeting of the International Press Club evoked the outcome of the visit of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Uzbekistan.

The UN head visited Samarkand and Nukus. At the meeting with the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the issues of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the organization in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals were in focus.

The red line through the conducted talks was the theme of an effective combination of Uzbekistan's foreign policy with the UN policy. The Secretary General stressed the importance of the current Strategy for Actions for 2017-2021 which is consistent with the goals of sustainable development and reflects not only Uzbekistan's achievements in 25 years of independence, but also planned steps forward.

The main approval of the Secretary-General on the results of the visit to Uzbekistan was his statement that the Aral problem is the result of the lack of proper multilateral cooperation in the field of integrated use of water resources.

It found an explanation in the speech of the head of the UNICEF office in Uzbekistan Sasha Grauman. He stressed: "Next year will be important for the country in terms of international cooperation. Uzbekistan will provide a number of reports to international organizations on the implementation of certain conventions. This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate - where the Strategy for 2017-2021 leads and to discuss our actions in terms of assisting Uzbekistan to achieve its goals. After all, the UN agencies working on the territory of the country are ready to provide support, advice and expert opinion on the implementation of the five priority areas of development. In addition, all points of the Strategy are significant not only for Uzbekistan, but for the region as a whole.

It was difficult not to notice that the meeting between Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Antonio Guterres witnessed a new level of relationships and their systematic advancement".

Five from eight members border with Afghanistan

Today, a number of researchers are trying to find ways to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan, but unfortunately, according to experts, the situation does not lend itself to obvious predictions. Therefore, the interest of the participants of the International Press Club was quite understandable, the issues of which directly or indirectly concerned possible threats to the security of Uzbekistan deriving from Afghanistan.

The President of Uzbekistan in his speech at the Astana summit of the SCO drew notice to the need for the speedy normalization of the situation in Afghanistan as an important component of peace and security in the region. The head of state has already appointed his special representative for Afghanistan, Ismatulla Irgashev which once again confirmed the seriousness of the leadership's attention to this foreign policy vector.

What steps still need to be taken in this direction? Is the creation of a contact group "SCO - Afghanistan" real? These questions were answered by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Alisher Kurmanov. He said: "Such a group was established in 2005 on the initiative of Russia, but after the granting of observer status to Afghanistan, the platform ceased to exist. Uzbekistan supported the idea of the Russian Federation to recreate the group, since in the light of the latest changes in the SCO this issue is being updated: five from eight members of the organization are bordered by Afghanistan.

However Uzbekistan does a lot in the bilateral format with Afghanistan. In January this year, a solid government delegation visited Kabul where the parties agreed to intensify cooperation between the two countries, especially in the area of trade and economic projects".

Sadik Safayev spoke about concrete proposals on the cooperation between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. He recalled the transit corridor to the seaport of Gwadar in Pakistan through Afghanistan and stressed: "The provision of peace in this country is associated with the implementation there of major economic, transport projects. Afghanistan provides access to new, short routes. Today, it takes 20-22 days for cargo delivery from Uzbekistan by rail to the nearest sea port. At the same time, it can be reached to Pakistan in 2-3 days.

No need to forget about the potential of the Afghan market for Uzbek products. It's not for nothing that one of the tasks in today's bilateral agenda is to increase the trade turnover to $ 1.5 billion". Obviously, concrete steps to achieve this goal will be discussed during the summit. As S.Safayev declared, terms of this meeting are at a stage of the coordination.

Various opinions are also expressed, including on the creation of a multifunctional center for combating terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking, including those originating in Afghanistan, giving new powers and functions in this area to the RATS.

They were commented by Evgeny Sysoev: "Such proposals were sounded earlier by the participating countries. Undoubtedly, the new proposal of the head of Uzbekistan in line with one of the important issues - security in the information space. Cyberspace creates new opportunities for terrorists which must be stopped. In this case, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security is doing a great job which is the main initiator in the field of suppression of illegal actions in cyberspace. In April this year, a seminar was taken place in Shanghai for authorized bodies on cyber security where new approaches in this area were discussed. It should be noted that the proposal of Shavkat Mirziyoyev deserves high praise, and we will wait for feedback from other countries on this issue".

CIS: priorities or preferences

In consideration of that the expert opinion on the future of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is rather pessimistic, and many analysts generally believe that the organization, after a quarter of a century since its formation, turned into a formal and inefficient structure, journalists were interested in the question of how much Uzbekistan needs to participate in the Commonwealth. In particular, it was about the 74th meeting of the Economic Council of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow, in which Uzbekistan was represented by Deputy Prime Minister Ulughbek Rozukulov.

The CIS Economic Council was formed in April 1999. Its main functions are the development of proposals on the establishment of a system of mutual settlements and payments on trading and other operations; creation of legal, economic and organizational conditions for the transition to higher levels of economic cooperation based on the free movement of goods, services, labor and capital.

Unfortunately, even the leaders of some states lost enthusiasm in the work of the Commonwealth, however the specialists continue to assert that the CIS, though partially, but is managing its task. First and foremost, it provides a civilized dialogue with its participants, stimulates a lot of enterprises for overall productive work, maintains a favorable investment climate and revitalizes whole branches of the economy of the Commonwealth.

Despite different points of view, the CIS space is one of the main priorities for Uzbekistan. According to Sadik Safayev, recently measures have been taken to intensify the trade with the Commonwealth countries. Therefore, any meetings on the margins of the Economic Council can be an essential step in expanding trade, economic and investment relations with tested partners.

In his opinion, "the establishment of dialogue and the strengthening of cooperation in all spheres with the neighboring countries of the region is of particular importance in the updated foreign policy of the state, in its fresh approaches. This is widely supported by international communities, economic and business structures that see Central Asia as a single large capacious market. An intensive dialogue with all countries are underway, contacts are going to be planned.

As for the economic forum within the CIS, it is one of the main priorities for Uzbekistan. The big sphere of state interests is connected with the CIS countries, with which we have an extensive legal base of relations".

It is clear that multilateral diplomacy and interstate relations are very essential for Uzbekistan, but journalists wanted to know what would be the updated foreign policy course of Uzbekistan as a whole?

In short, the decision-making formula is as follows: Roadmaps will be formed in accordance with the Strategy for Actions. The work will be carried out by the Committee on International Relations, Foreign Economic Relations, Foreign Investments and Tourism of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis together with embassies and representatives of Uzbekistan in international organizations.

How is this work organized? chairman of the committee Alisher Kurmanov explained this in detail: "The task of the committee is not easy: with a small team to embrace a large sphere - international relations, investments, trade, tourism, etc. It is very easy to control, but it is more important to determine the priorities. We need to elaborate new approaches to multilateral diplomacy. For the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, report was made by the Foreign Minister in the Senate, at which the minister's information was heard, and recommendations were made. In particular, the senators placed the attention on the training of personnel for the foreign service, the improvement of the quality of the work of the embassies, the development of road maps, etc. In general, such hearings in the Senate will be carried out twice a year".
(As part of the social order of the Public Fund for Supporting NGOs and Other Civil Society Institutions under the Oliy Majlis).

FIGURES

More than 270 river basins in the world are common sources of water for several countries at the same time. They are used by about 40% of the world's population. That is why countries should cooperate in the field of water resources management and do everything possible to equitably distribute water. By 2050, a quarter of the world's population will live in countries with a chronic lack of drinking water. Inefficient water management can lead to increased tensions between some countries.

The UN encourages peaceful dialogue and mediation as tools for resolving "water" disputes.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

SCIENCE
Uzbekistan has wealth of experience and expertise in grain growing

Until recently, collecting 35-40 centners per hectare was a cherished dream of our farmers, while now this figure is on the average 50-60 centners per hectare.

In a short time, Uzbekistan has come to the fore in grain yields among Central Asian countries. To date, the country has sustained not just grain independence, but also grain exports.

The renewal of wheat varieties and scientific approach to the increase of yields plays an important role in this progress. Promising varieties, selfless labor of farmers, motivation for wheat growing, strengthening of logistical capacity and state support of this work stimulate the intensive development of the industry.

“Wheat is the main agricultural crop in the world. Cultivated on the largest areas, it gives 21% of the calories consumed with food products. However, as a result of various biotic and abiotic stresses, climate change, spread of plant pests, most of the crop dies. Therefore, researchers and breeders seek the creation of stress-resistant wheat varieties through genetic engineering and biotechnical approaches," said Barno Rizaeva, a junior researcher at the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics.

In 2012, the leading scientists of Great Britain, Germany and the USA discovered that the genome of wheat consists of almost 96,000 genes, which is four times more than the human genome. Such a large amount of genes causes difficulties in conducting scientific research. Despite this, armed with modern methods, scientists of the world create wheat varieties resistant to herbicides, drought, salinity and other stresses.

The Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics also uses the technology to research on transgenic wheat. In particular, studies are underway to improve the valuable properties of local varieties of wheat. That is, the technology of knocking out wheat genes that adversely affect the development helps to enhance its resistance to diseases, and breed high-yielding improved varieties.

“There are currently two varieties that are cultivated in the world - hard and soft. The wheat grown in Uzbekistan is distinguished by its physical, chemical and technological properties. Specialists studied the theoretical foundations of innovative biotechnologies to increase the level of gluten, which is important for baking bread. They cloned different varieties of wheat genes that influence on gluten, identified positive and negative differences. In laboratory environment, we accumulated the seeds of the first genotypes of gene-knockout wheat,” Barno Rizaeva said.

Creation of varieties on the basis of gene-knockout technology, resistant to rust disease, ranks among the biggest problems in grain growing. Scientific research has been underway in this field.

Rust causes serious damage to grain fields. However, there are still no chemical or biological methods for its complete elimination. The research revealed the fungi that cause this disease. So, the scientists developed a technology of placing genetic devices in wheat cells that constantly knockout the activity of the genes, which promote the development of fungi. To date, the rust resistant wheat has been grown. The next mission is to multiply seeds and test this variety.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

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