On August 7, the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan announced the state registration of the SCO Center for Public Diplomacy in Uzbekistan. The Center received an official status as a non-governmental non-profit organization. It was established to ensure the wide use of public diplomacy mechanisms in strengthening ties between the SCO member states.
The decision to establish the Center was taken as early as on June 26, when the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the Decree “On State Support Measures for the Establishment of the SCO Center for Public Diplomacy in Uzbekistan.” The document provided for the main tasks, the list of founders and the set of organizational activities to establish the SCO’s public diplomacy institution in the republic.
The SCO Center for Public Diplomacy challenges a wide range of tasks. These include: strengthening mutual trust and good neighborliness, inter-ethnic and inter-religious consent, developing inter-civilizational dialogue among the SCO states; expanding cultural and humanitarian ties with the SCO states; creating conditions for friendly interaction between civil society institutions of the SCO states; developing cooperation between the SCO states in the informational sphere; applying public diplomacy tools to draw the SCO states and their population closer together. The presidential decree provides for privileges for foreign specialists engaged by the Center when they enter Uzbekistan and during their stay in the country. Entry visas will be issued for them without any consular fees charged, and no state fee will be collected when the foreign specialists of the Center will extend the visa’s validity period, receive and prolong a temporary residence permit.
At the meeting of the founders, which took place on July 6, the member of the Committee on International Relations, Foreign Economic Relations, Foreign Investments and Tourism of the Senate Mr. Oliy Majlisa Rakhmatullo Nazarov was unanimously elected the Director of the SCO Center for Public Diplomacy.
Independent political analyst from Uzbekistan Rustam Makhmudov shared his opinion on the meaning and prospectives of the SCO’s public diplomacy with the correspondent of InfoSCO portal.
“In general, we may consider the creation of the SCO Center for Public Diplomacy (CPD) a positive step, as it is aimed on the strengthening of one more important, “public”, change in the activities of this reputable organization along with the changes in security and economy,” Mr. Makhmudov believes.
According to him, the relevance of forming such a Center increased significantly after India and Pakistan became permanent SCO member states, due to which the organization turned out into the space uniting several Eurasian civilizational centers. “These are, of course, the Chinese and Confucian civilization, the Russian civilization, the civilizations of India and the Muslim civilization, represented in the SCO by two original centers, namely, the countries of Central Asia and Pakistan,” the expert explained.
“Civilizational centers have not only their inimitable uniqueness and some common features based on the paradigm of traditionalism, but at the same time – a number of serious differences at the level of world perception, customs, values and various cultural practices, and it mostly concerns the ‘civilian’s layer’,” Mr. Makhmudov said. “If the elites, when acting in the international arena and in multilateral organizations, such as the SCO, are guided primarily by considerations of political and economic pragmatism, then the ordinary civilians live mostly ‘following their heart’ – which has always determined the importance of ideas and ideological structures in building and managing the state. It is the elites’ ability to find a way to the people’s hearts, of course, along with the ability to solve their immediate problems, that has always determined the elites’ viability and the sustainability of the states they governed.”
The SCO Center of Public Diplomacy, founded in Uzbekistan, as its name implies, will have to deal with a very specific “civilian” dimension, which represents the most complex phenomenon in each of the civilizations present in the SCO. To build a bridge between the SCO state’s peoples, the CPD will definitely need fundamental approaches and research of a strategic nature, going far beyond separate activities in culture, sport and tourism.