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Uzbekistan in the CIS: Challenges and Prospects

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Uzbekistan in the CIS: Challenges and Prospects

In the rapidly evolving global landscape, where national borders are losing their significance and economic and cultural cooperation are paramount, Uzbekistan, as a pivotal player in the region, is actively seeking to fortify economic, social, and cultural ties through its partnership with the Commonwealth of Independent States.

It should be noted that the country’s main goals in the CIS are to increase the efficiency of economic interaction, develop transport and logistics connections, and deepen integration and exchange of experience in science, education, and culture. These efforts are aimed at ensuring regional stability, enhancing cooperation, and supporting mutually beneficial projects in economics, innovation, ecology, and culture.

The economic interaction between Uzbekistan and the Commonwealth states is not just growing, but thriving. The foreign trade turnover has surged to a staggering $20.6 billion (with $ 8.1 billion in exports and $ 12.5 billion in imports), with Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan maintaining their positions as our key trading partners.

The country actively attracts investments from the CIS countries, directing them to the development of infrastructure and key economic sectors. Thus, in 2023, the growth of mutual FDI increased by 5.4 percent, reaching a total volume of $48.8 billion.

Uzbekistan is making substantial investments in infrastructure projects that bolster economic capacity and regional integration, such as transport logistics. This strategic move is optimizing trade turnover and creating favorable conditions for a profound transformation of the Eurasian space.

In recent years, Uzbekistan has redoubled its efforts in innovation and technology, particularly in digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI), with the aim of fortifying both domestic technological capabilities and the foundation for global cooperation, including within the CIS.

The key point was the creation in the country of a regional expert AI platform, uniting scientists, IT specialists, and entrepreneurs to develop and implement innovative technologies. This initiative not only stimulates domestic innovation projects but also promotes international technological interaction.

A significant development has been the development of machine learning for the agricultural industry, increasing crop yields by analyzing soil and climate data. The project attracted the interest of agricultural companies in the Commonwealth interested in similar technologies.

Much attention is paid to digitalizing education through the “Electronic School” project, implemented jointly with Russian IT companies. It provided access to educational resources and distance learning, improving the quality of education in Uzbekistan and becoming a model of international academic cooperation in the CIS.

Another important aspect of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the CIS is the support of socio-economic projects aimed at reducing poverty and improving conditions in rural areas. Among the main measures taken in this direction are developing the agricultural sector and stimulating entrepreneurship through subsidies and training programs, which play a key role in improving farmers’ skills and professional development.

In the modern world, where new threats arise from unexpected quarters, coordinated actions of the CIS member states are particularly relevant. Uzbekistan plays a vital role in these processes, significantly contributing to the overall efforts to strengthen security in the region by confronting both traditional and new challenges: terrorism, cyber threats, drug trafficking, and transnational crime.

Let’s consider the development of an air defense system as an example. Considering the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles and other modern means of air attack, joint work to modernize and strengthen air defense systems is becoming essential. The CIS countries regularly conduct joint exercises to increase their armed forces’ readiness to repel possible air threats, exchange experiences, and develop new approaches to air defense.

Particular attention is paid to cybersecurity. Together with CIS partners, Uzbekistan is actively working to create interstate mechanisms for responding to cyber incidents, develop national capabilities to protect critical information infrastructure, and train cybersecurity specialists.

Cooperation within the CIS also covers the exchange of intelligence information and coordination of actions to counter terrorism and extremism. The Commonwealth countries emphasize strengthening borders and developing joint measures to prevent illegal migration and smuggling, contributing to the region’s overall security.

In 2024, Uzbekistan declared itself on the regional stage of the CIS thanks to initiatives in culture and youth support. Designating Tashkent as a youth capital and Samarkand as a cultural capital underscores the country’s desire to strengthen cultural exchange in the Commonwealth.

In Samarkand, one of the oldest cities in the world, the opening ceremony of the program “Samarkand – the cultural capital of the CIS” was held. During the ceremony, the city was awarded a certificate officially confirming the corresponding honorary title. The status of cultural capital was granted by a decision of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS, which is part of a project launched in 2010 to honor one of the cities of the Commonwealth annually.

The program is supported by the Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation of the CIS Member States and provides for the holding of many cultural events in Samarkand. The city will become a place for creative meetings, tours, performances by scientists and athletes, opening days, and exhibitions.

Significant figures from the cultural and humanitarian sphere attended the opening ceremony, including Mikhail Shvydkoy, the representative of the Russian Federation in the Council for Humanitarian Cooperation of the CIS Member States, and Anatoly Iksanov, the Executive Director of the Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation.

Thus, through cultural and youth initiatives in Samarkand and Tashkent, Uzbekistan contributes to the development of cultural dialogue, strengthening its role in the Commonwealth of Independent States and promoting the development of international cultural cooperation.

In conclusion, it can be noted that Uzbekistan, continuing its path of deep integration within the Commonwealth, faces both several prospects and challenges. On the one hand, this opens up significant opportunities for economic growth, the development of innovative technologies and the strengthening of sociocultural ties, on the other hand, it creates certain risks and difficulties associated mainly with geopolitical changes and the need to adapt to general standards and norms.

Economic cooperation, remaining a key area of Uzbekistan’s integration into the CIS, implies not only an increase in trade turnover but also involvement in regional investment and infrastructure projects. However, to achieve better results, several barriers, including differences in economic regulations and standards, must be overcome, which requires coordinated work and mutual concessions.

In innovation and technology, Uzbekistan demonstrates significant potential, but implementing it requires strengthening international scientific and technical cooperation, establishing the exchange of experience, and creating joint research platforms, including within the framework of the development of artificial intelligence.

Socio-economic initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and developing rural areas and interaction in social policy and education help strengthen humanitarian ties between the CIS countries. Still, their effectiveness depends on the willingness to work together and mutual support.

Implementing joint projects and initiatives within the Commonwealth requires Uzbekistan’s political will, willingness to compromise, innovation, and openness to new ideas. Successful interaction in the CIS contributes to the achievement of national goals and strengthens overall sustainability, ensuring the prosperity of the entire region.