NEWS AND EVENTS
January 29, 2010
ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT ISLAM KARIMOV AT THE JOINT SESSION OF LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER AND THE SENATE OF OLIY MAJLIS OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN
It gives an enormous pleasure to cordially congratulate you on the deserved victory in the elections and the high level of trust, which has been rendered to you by voters and population of the country.
Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to express to all of you, the elected representatives of people, my enormous respect and confidence.
I am convinced that the trust, which has rightly been rendered to you, - this is, firstly, the expression of respect towards your personality, your knowledge, experience and selfless labor, above all, the concrete contribution, which each of you is making to the cause of further increasing authority and flourishing of the country, well being and prosperity of our nation.
At the same time – this is the trust rendered to the political party, the public movement, which you have represented in the general elections.
I would like to underscore time and again that this all, above all, the particular advance, which it will need to be justified by each at this own working place by a concrete work, his honest attitude towards fulfillment of the duty, which I hope you are well realizing as the deputies of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
I would like to draw your attention yet to another very important moment.
Your authority is the authority of the Legislative Chamber and Senate, this is authority of the nation’s Parliament, and finally, this is the authority of our country.
I think, today at our joint session of the Legislative Chamber and Senate of Oliy Majlis there is no need to speak a lot about the elections to the Legislative Chamber, Jokargy Kenes of Karakalpakstan and local Kengashes (Councils) that took place on December 27, 2009, as well as the runoff elections to those bodies on January 10, 2010.
The detailed and rather objective assessments of these elections have already been given by both relevant authorized structures and observers both inside the country and on the part of accredited organizations and observers from abroad.
Above all, the state of general activeness of voters, state of openness, transparency, observance of norms and requirements of domestic and international legislation, which have taken place in the elections, are noted in those assessments and commentaries, which became yet as another confirmation of the fact that how truly enormous steps our society has made for over the past years on the way of democratic transformations, ensuring freedom of choice for everyone and for establishing strong civil society.
Yet already the fact that practically about 30 percent out of the total number of deputies of the Legislative Chamber and about 20 percent of the deputies, who have been elected to the local Kengashes, went through the second round of voting speaks about a lot, and above all, about how the elections were democratic.
The elections demonstrated the high socio-political culture of the population, growing level of its political and civil self-consciousness, its broad support of our progressive advancement along the way of deepening reforming and modernizing the country.
Most importantly, the elections have once again demonstrated that all radical changes and transformations taking place in our state – this is a process, which has acquired an irreversible nature.
And yet there is another very important conclusion, which we need to make, - these elections showed to what extent those decisions made on time were right and efficient, in particular, we have adopted the Constitutional Law “On strengthening the role of political parties in the renewal and further democratization of state governance and modernization of the country”, as well as implemented measures to ensure so that the political parties, as they participate and prove in the elections their competence, become in practice the decisive force of deep transformations taking place in Uzbekistan.
I think I shall not be mistaken if I say that particularly such peculiarity made up the essence and main substance of these elections, and without any doubt, will render a considerable impact on raising efficiency of the nation’s parliamentary system.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again congratulate and thank all our citizens, express the feelings of deep respect to the entire nation that our country has successfully withstood this tough political examination on the way of building our deserved future.
Distinguished participants of the session!
Before starting to dwell on the issues related to forthcoming activity of the newly elected Legislative Chamber and Senate, it accords me a profound pleasure to express the words of a sincere gratitude to the members of both chambers of Oliy Majlis, who have relinquished their powers, for their work, for their honest labor, for their substantial contribution to consolidating the might of our country, as well as raising the prosperity and well being of our nation.
The activity of the country’s bicameral parliament elected for the first time in 2004 coincided in its time with the important period in our life notable for its deep transformations, dynamic processes of consistent reforming and liberalizing all spheres of political and socio-economic life, democratic renewal and modernization of the country.
The previous make-up of parliament’s deputies made an important contribution to resolution of all those priority tasks set before Uzbekistan by adopting more than 250 laws of a profound significance in deepening the socio-political and socio-economic reforms being carried out in the country.
As we summarize the accomplished, today it can be said that the main tasks in terms of establishing the lower chamber of parliament as permanently functioning professional body, which elaborates and adopts laws, and the upper chamber – the Senate as the body of territorial representation, which fully and comprehensively expresses the interests of regions, have been as a whole successfully fulfilled. The quality and validity of legislative acts being passed have substantially improved. The balance, consistency of national and regional interests is being ensured more effectively.
The role and influence of political parties on the activity of the highest representative body of the country, representative bodies of power at the local levels have substantially increased.
For the first time the parliamentary majority has been formed in the Legislative Chamber – the Democratic bloc, which brought together the factions of the Movement of entrepreneurs and business people – the Liberal-Democratic Party, Democratic Party “Milliy Tiklanish”, as well as the Social-Democratic Party “Adolat”. At the same time, the parliamentary opposition has been formed represented by the faction of the People’s-Democratic Party of Uzbekistan.
A special place was reserved in the lawmaking activity of Oliy Majlis to the issues of normative and legal support of structural transformations in the economy taking place in the country, further creation of favorable investment climate, modernization, technical re-equipment of production, as well as development of the country’s banking and financial system.
During this period the entire package of legislative acts has been adopted, which envisage the consolidation of legal protection of private ownership, establishment of a powerful class of owners in the country, consolidation of farming, ensuring further liberalization of economy, creation of favorable conditions for development of small business and entrepreneurship, as well as establishment of a ramified market infrastructure.
The most important issues remained on the focus of attention in terms of continuous growth of population’s incomes and well being of the people, successful implementation of the large-scale social programs.
Those and the whole number of other measures aimed at legislative support of economic reforms promoted creating the necessary legal maintenance of successful implementation of the Anti-crisis program of measures for 2009-2012 directed to minimize the negative consequences of the global financial and economic crisis, allowed Uzbekistan, among other limited number of countries in the world, to provide for sustainable growth rates of economy and increase the real incomes of population.
The growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2009, which was not easy in all respects, made up 8,1 percent, industrial production – 9 percent, total amount of investments increased by 26 percent, including the foreign investments – by 68 percent, - and all these serve as a confirmation of the aforementioned.
The positive balance in the foreign trade turnover made up more than 2,3 billion dollars, the growth of average salary made up 40 percent, and of the real incomes – 26,5 percent.
The parliament has substantially contributed to the large-scale work being accomplished in the country to deeply reform and liberalize the judicial and legal system, ensure in practice the independence of judicial power. For over these five years 58 laws were adopted in accordance with which further reforming of the judicial-legal system has been carried out. The liberalization of the system of criminal punishment has been accomplished.
The institute of advocacy has been reformed. The system of executing the court decisions and the activity of prosecutor’s office saw improvement; the number of other measures has been taken aimed at consistent democratization of the entire judicial and legal system.
The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on abolishing the death penalty in the country starting from January 1, 2008, as well as the Law on delegating the right to issue an arrest warrant from prosecutor’s office to courts adopted in 2007 drew a wide response in the entire world. With introducing the said measures one of the most humane and liberal systems of criminal punishment in the world has been formed in Uzbekistan.
Much has been accomplished in terms of strengthening and developing the institutions of civil society, developing the independent mass media – the most important component of democratic reforms.
For over the last years about ten legislative acts were adopted directly aimed at further democratizing and liberalizing mass media, increasing their activeness in ensuring glasnost and openness of socio-political and socio-economic reforms, as well as introducing the latest information-communicational technologies into the media space.
In July 2008 both chambers of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan adopted the joint resolution “On measures to strengthen support of non-state non-profit organizations, other institutions of civil society”. It became yet another important step on the way of consistently ensuring the independent development of NGOs, institutions of civil society, strengthening their role and significance in democratic renewal of the country. The mentioned joint resolution paved way for establishment of the independent system of forming sources of financing the activity of NGOs and other institutions of civil society based on democratic principles.
Distinguished participants of the session!
Assessing the achieved successes, along with that I consider it necessary to note the unutilized reserves, shortcomings and inadvertences in the activity of chambers of the previous convocation. This is especially important to make today, when the tasks and priorities of the activity of Oliy Majlis for the forthcoming five-year period are being defined.
First, it is necessary to admit that one of the big shortcomings in the activity of the Legislative Chamber is the lack of the deeply and comprehensively elaborated program of lawmaking set for a long-term perspective, closely linked with the needs, course of socio-economic and socio-political reforms in the country. This is one of the reasons that laws are frequently adopted haphazardly once they are introduced by subjects of legislative initiative.
Second, the passiveness and insufficient activeness of the deputy corpse in terms of initiating and promoting laws vitally necessary for implementing the dynamically developing reforms in economic, political and humanitarian spheres serves as a serious shortcoming. During the last five years from out of 297 draft laws introduced into the Legislative Chamber only 44 draft laws have been initiated by deputies. Along with that, 42 draft laws were introduced directly by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, more than 160 draft laws were introduced by the country’s government mostly in the framework of fulfilling the decrees and resolutions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Third, the quality of laws being adopted requires radical improvement. Most of them have been directed to introducing amendments, clarifications and addenda to the already passed laws and were not of a codified nature. The draft laws included discrepancies, doubling with acts adopted earlier and had many reference rules. And most significant shortcoming is that the passed laws frequently lack the procedural mechanisms that provide for implementation of those acts of legislation, and this, in its turn, considerably complicates their application, leads to non-fulfillment of laws and legal nihilism, as well as decreasing of efficiency of the law-enforcement practice.
Fourth, the forms of deputy-led control and influence on improvement of the law-enforcement practice envisaged by law have been poorly used. For over the entire period of functioning of lower chamber just several parliamentary inquires (interpellations) have been made, in particular, on the issues of introducing of innovative technologies into production, accelerated construction of enterprises of chemical industry and manufacturing new types of products.
Fifth, the systemic work of a member of parliament at his election district requires considerable improvement, which would allow him to reveal how the passed laws are working, in which laws today the practice of economic construction feels the need, what problems his voters are dealing with and what needs to be done to resolve them. Suffice it to say that the “Procedure of organizing activity of a deputy of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the election district” was elaborated and approved by chamber only in May 2008, i.e. in the fourth year of functioning of parliament. The work itself was mainly related to holding the meetings, which, as the analysis reveals, frequently were of a formal nature and were just limited to answers to the incoming complaints and questions.
Sixth, especially in the beginning of practical activity of upper and lower chambers the serious problems occurred related mostly to demonstration of ambitions from both sides, and nevertheless those contradictions have negatively impacted the quality and terms of adoption of legislative acts.
Speaking briefly, it was difficult to provide for functioning of each particular chamber as an independent and mandatory component of the lawmaking process accomplished by Oliy Majlis – the highest legislative body of Uzbekistan.
It is fully natural and logical that during fulfilling the functions and powers laid on each of the chambers there may emerge various differences and contradictions between them.
Availing myself of this opportunity, I would like to underscore that the Senate, its members are not vested with a right of legislative initiative. The Senate is a representative body and its considerable part, while serving as the deputies of regional, city and district Kengashes of people’s deputies, are their authorized representatives at the highest legislative body of the country and are accountable to them.
And therefore it is fully logical that in their activity and in considering the draft laws and making decisions, while guided by, firstly, the nationwide interests, they consider those bills through the prism of interests of territories and regions.
And therefore the cases of rejection by Senate of some law, the discussions which emerge in the framework of conciliation commissions of upper and lower chamber on the essence and substance of proposed drafts, we must consider as normal and healthy form of work of a democratic parliament.
Dear deputies and senators!
As we exactingly and critically assess the work of Oliy Majlis for over the past period we must clearly realize that without eradicating the shortcomings, overcoming inertness and inertia in the work of parliament, the deputies will not be able to effectively resolve the tasks set before them, fulfill the high promises, which were given to voters during the elections.
Moreover, it must be obvious for all that the newly elected parliament will have to work in qualitatively new political and socio-economic conditions.
At the moment, the country faces the tasks enormous on their scale and depth in the sphere of state and social construction. Given the complex conditions stipulated by continuing global financial and economic crisis we will have to ensure further sustainable development of economy, continue the work on its diversification, modernization and technical re-equipment of production. In the tough geopolitical conditions unfolding in the region and the world as a whole, we will have to resolve the tasks of ensuring security, stability of the country, preserving peace in our land and the whole number of other responsible and large-scale tasks on successful accomplishment of which depend today and the future of our country and our children.
As it is known for everyone, it has already been for 30 years that the military conflict has been continuing in the neighboring Afghanistan. When the tense situation remains in one of the states of the region, naturally there exists a threat to peace and security in the entire region, as well.
From the most authoritative international rostrums Uzbekistan put forward the practical initiatives on addressing this conflict. In particular, at the NATO/EAPC summit in Bucharest in April 2008 the President of Uzbekistan for the first time enunciated the view that the Afghan problem cannot be resolved only by military tools. In addressing the conflict in Afghanistan we have put forward the initiative to transform the Contact Group “6+2” into “6+3”, bearing in mind the participation in it of the U.S., Russia and representatives of NATO along with the countries neighboring on Afghanistan.
And in fact, billions and billions of dollars have been spent for over the thirty years to resolve the Afghan problem. Today it becomes obvious the need to radically change the approach to settling the situation in this country.
It is very important to ensure respect towards the national customs, culture and religious values of the multinational and multi-faith people of Afghanistan.
As it is known, soon London will host the international conference on this problem. A number of states that participate in this conference express the view about the impossibility of addressing the conflict in Afghanistan by military ways, which does confirm the rightness of Uzbekistan’s stance on this issue.
In order to establish peace and stability on the long-suffering Afghan soil the international community must, above all, render a targeted economic, financial, social and humanitarian assistance, which must be accomplished under auspices of the United Nations.
Today many states of the world render such assistance to Afghanistan. It is natural that the neighboring countries to a bigger extent are interested in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan as the closest neighbor also renders a substantial assistance to Afghanistan.
In particular, starting from 2010 the amount of electrical power supplied by us to Afghanistan increased to 6 times as compared with previous years.
These days the constructors and specialists of Uzbekistan are starting the work on laying the railroad line Termez-Khairaton-Mazari-Shareef. I am confident that it will be finished by the end of this year.
In a word, our parliament also must make its own contribution to strengthening peace and stability in the region.
All of the aforementioned will require the parliament the high level of initiative, continuous search for ways of increasing the efficiency of the lawmaking activity, and each and every deputy and political party, above all, fulfilling the commitments shouldered by them in the elections.
I think there is no need today to speak about how important it is in establishing the law-governed state, which we are building, the soonest filling in the gaps and “blank spots” in the legislative and normative basis, how serious changes requires the law-enforcement practice, betterment of work of the law-enforcement and judicial bodies in observing Law and once again Law.
In this, we must clearly realize that ensuring the economic growth, achieving the high living standards of people, resolving other tasks in socio-economic, socio-political sphere will depend on successful accomplishment of one most important task. This task is about to quickly and effectively moving along deepening the democratic reforms and liberalizing economy, building the strong civil society.
I think that in the process of preparation the concrete program of the forthcoming work both in the Legislative Chamber and the Senate all of these tasks will be taken into account and concretely improved.
The following most important key issues, as I deeply believe, must remain on the focus of our attention.
First, I would like to firmly state from this high rostrum that we will not be able to achieve the high goals in terms of modernization the country if we are not to ensure the coordinated and deep correlation of processes of reforming economy and social sphere with permanent renewal of the socio-political and judicial-legal system.
The issues of further strengthening the role of parliament in socio-political life of the country must remain on the focus of our attention in line with the Constitutional principle of separation of powers.
The most important place in implementing this task belongs to development of a multi-party system, increasing the activeness of political parties and intensification of a competitive struggle between them.
The essence of the task which we must set before us is that the pre-election inter-party struggle, the clash of ideas and programs, which took place in establishing the new make-up of the parliament, should continue and intensify during the daily parliamentary activity. Figuratively speaking, the clashes of ideas and programs must take place particularly in the parliamentary arena, and through such struggle the goals which each party sets before itself must be achieved.
I am convinced as more heated and stronger the competition will be between various political factions in the Legislative Chamber, so there will be more guarantees of that the ideas of each party that represents the interests of certain social forces and layers, its program tasks are going to be successfully realized. Certainly, all of this will promote the growth of quality of laws, growth of authority of the parliament, its impact on the processes taking place in the country.
The inter-party discussions must be led on serious, professional and substantial basis. Therefore indeed the political parties need to concentrate on deeper studies of socio-economic issues that are of a concern to their constituencies, elaboration and implementation of measures in terms of their resolution.
The time has come to go from the general elaborations on “political support of the strategic course of the country’s leadership to carry out reforms” towards concrete actions, proposing deeply thought-out, including alternative, competitive projects and programs that reflect the purposeful tasks of each particular party or movement.
It is important to reveal the serious shortcomings and oversights at the local levels, which hamper increasing the social efficiency of reforms, hold their open, transparent and constructive discussion, undertake a substantial criticism of heads of bodies of state, economic management, controlling and law-enforcement system, who each at their own place are failing to deal with obligations laid on them.
It is necessary to broader use modern methods of work with constituencies, generally recognized political technologies and turn the party-issued print into the arena of bitter inter-party discussions.
The second most important task of the parliament, local representative bodies of power – Kengashes – is to conduct the strict parliamentary, deputy-led control of how the executive power, government in the center and khokimiyats (governor’s and mayor’s offices) at the local levels implement laws passed by parliament.
It should be directly admitted that such work, unfortunately, is poorly organized in the Legislative Chamber and the Senate. Yet so far the Legislative Chamber and the Senate infrequently hear and discuss the information on implementation of laws, most important state programs in the relevant branches on the part of Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan and his deputies, heads of ministries, agencies, committees and other executive structures.
As the results of study show, those parliamentary hearings were of a general and mostly informative nature with poor determination of positions by particular committees or commissions on the considered issues, some programs, documents with concrete and comprehensively elaborated recommendations have not been passed.
In the upcoming period it is necessary to take all necessary measures in terms of broader application in the center and at the local levels of the legal norms and mechanisms of controlling powers of the legislative power as envisaged by law.
Hearing of heads of state structures on the state of affairs related to implementation of acts of legislation at the branches entrusted to them must become a daily form of parliamentary activity.
The practice of hearing the information of heads of executive power should be expanded, in particular, of the members of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, on the state of affairs, law-enforcement practice in the spheres of activity they oversee.
In particular, in conducting the parliamentary control a special attention should be paid to the measures in terms of decreasing the groundless interference of state structures with the sphere of economy.
A special attention should be paid to the issues of implementation of the Anti-crisis program of measures for 2009-2012, entire complex of measures envisaged in it with regard to ensuring sustainable development of the socio-economic sphere and stability in the country.
It is necessary to broader use such forms of parliamentary control as parliamentary inquiry, parliamentary hearings and other forms of parliamentary activity envisioned by law.
Substantial explanation, giving comprehensive elucidations on the issues raised in the parliamentary inquiry is a direct duty of officials of bodies of state power and management.
The responsibility for its implementation must be laid on the heads of bodies of state power of all levels and the prosecutor’s office.
Successful implementation of the task in terms of reinforcing the parliamentary control over executive power substantially depends on the broad participation of mass media and public in this work.
The big and responsible tasks lay ahead before the party press which it should be noted with regret yet continues to remain, speaking simple, the insipid.
The most important task must be as follows: the parliament must become a conductor of democratic transformations, liberal reforms directed to establishing the strong civil society.
The life itself more insistently puts on the agenda the issue related to intensifying the work in terms of implementing the Program “From a strong state towards a strong civil society”, the essence and substance of which is as follows: as we continue to carry out the social-economic, socio-political reforms, the model of state and social construction that we chose, the task of strengthening the role of citizens in governing the country becomes important, which in practice it means further development of the entire system of institutions of civil society, its harmonious integration with governance of the country and administrative-territorial units.
The organizational and legal conditions should be fully used to have an active influence by political parties on forming the bodies of executive power in the center and the local levels. With these goals it is necessary to intensify the activity of the party groups at the local Kengashes of people’s deputies, increase the party influence on the work of executive structures of all levels in resolving the concrete tasks of socio-economic development of regions.
I consider it important direction of legislative activity the further development of normative and legal basis of the activity of civil and public institutions, non-state and non-profit organizations so that they could secure their own niche in the system of decisionmaking, upholding interests of particular layers and structures of society whom they represent.
In this respect the big and responsible tasks lay ahead before the deputies of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan elected from the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan, which now unites more than 100 core NGOs. The deputies from this movement are called upon to promote further development of legislation in the sphere of environment protection, organization of systemic work in terms of increasing accountability of bodies of state power in the center and the local levels, as well as various public and other structures on unconditional implementation of the documents, which have already been passed in this sphere.
It ought to be firmly and clearly learned a simple truth – from now on the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan steps onto a qualitatively new level, acquires enormous opportunities so that from the high rostrum of a deputy to put forward and control the issues of environmental protection, shield the human and country’s population from dangerous and aggressive changes of ecology.
The improvement of legislation aimed at expanding the rights, powers of institutions of civil society, including the citizens’ self-governance bodies, in the system of social and state construction must become a priority direction.
Today the makhalla (neighborhood community area) is an important factor of the timely and successful resolution of acute issues of citizens at the local levels and upholding their interests. The contribution of makhalla into resolution of issues of spiritual and moral upbringing of citizens, youth, effective functioning of the social sphere, providing for public security and order at the local levels grows.
In this respect, improvement of the legal basis of activity of makhalla, expansion of its powers, mechanisms of effective functioning is our priority task.
It is important to continue work to turn makhalla into the center of targeted social support of population, development of private entrepreneurship and family business.
It is necessary to envisage further expansion of functions of makhalla in the system of public control over the activity of management bodies; ensure closer interaction of bodies of state power and management with citizens’ self-governance bodies with a view of broader informing public about the implementation of state social programs at the local levels.
The ever growing significance and role of makhalla in addressing the acute issues of citizens, ensuring the social activeness of citizens requires further improvement of the system of elections of chairmen (aksakals) of citizens’ gatherings and their advisors, which provides for election as aksakals and their advisors of the most deserved citizens.
Today the life itself unambiguously sets before us the task in terms of consolidating the place and role of mass media in the system of institutions of civil society. Further liberalization of mass media, intensification of activity of non-state outlets of press, radio, television and expansion of their access to the global network of Internet must provide for glasnost and openness of the policy of reforms being carried out in the country, promote consistent establishment of a strong civil society.
For this it is necessary to ensure further betterment of legislation in the sphere of mass media, which must create conditions for consistent growth of quality, mastery and efficiency of our national press to the level of high requirements and criteria of the developed world mass media.
It is necessary to create additional conditions for more active coverage by mass media of the foreign and internal policy conducted by the country with taking into account the pluralism of views and events taking place in the country and abroad.
It is important to ensure further development of normative and legal basis of activity of ever more expanding network of non-state media outlets, protection of copyright and intellectual ownership, as well as introduction of market mechanisms into the informational sphere.
The issues of creating the normative and legal mechanisms directed to further consolidation of material and technical basis of mass media, as well as material and moral stimulation of work of their employees take on outstanding significance. The worthy appraisal of the work of employees of the sphere, their material and moral stimulation presuppose both increasing independence and freedom of editorial offices of newspapers and magazines and their accountability.
During the last elections our people cast their votes for consolidation of peace and stability in the country, deepening of market relations, modernization, democratization of socio-political life, as well as for peace-loving foreign policy. Today the nation looks with confidence and hope on the deputies, whom it has elected, for all those, who bear a special responsibility for the fate of reforms.
Dear friends, be worthy the high confidence of the people. I wish you a sound health, strength and luck in the activity of a deputy, as well as happiness and well being to your families.
The text has been translated from Russian at the Information Agency “Jahon”