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Worthy of the timeless monuments of the glorious past: In 2022 Uzbekistan will see the grand opening of Silk Road Samarkand, a unique tourist complex

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In 2022, Silk Road Samarkand, a multifunctional tourist complex designed to become a modern attraction not only of the city of Samarkand, but also of the entire Central Asia, will be opened for visitors. The complex will combine cultural, gastro, medical and business tourism facilities.

The new complex will house world-class hotels, specialized boutique hotels, contemporary public spaces, parks, recreation and sports areas, authentic restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as an international congress hall and sites of cultural interest. The state-of-the-art project developed by an international team of architects and engineers will allow for combining various thematic zones into a balanced architectural ensemble without parallel in the entire region of Central Asia.

The scale and significance of Silk Road Samarkand are to make it a well-deserved follow-up to the sublime monuments of the past and a driver of tourism development in the region. The name of the center was selected deliberately: the routes of the Great Silk Road passed through the territory of current-day Uzbekistan from the II century BC until the XV century, and ancient Samarkand was one of the most important stops for trade caravans.

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The location

The new complex is located in the eastern part of the city and covers an area of about 260 hectares. It centers around the affluent waterway of the Samarkand rowing canal, which in Soviet times served as a training base for the USSR national team and a venue for All-Union competitions.

The complex includes multiple various zones. To the north of the rowing canal is a Business Cluster, including a congress hall and four upscale hotels with beautified territories. The Southern Cluster includes four boutique hotels, each operating in their own medical and sanatorium area of activity, as well as an eco-village, the Eternal City historical and ethnographic complex, and some shopping areas.

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The business cluster

Silk Road Samarkand has eight hotels, four each on the northern and southern banks of the rowing canal. They will provide for a total of about 1,200 rooms. To the left of the congress hall, a 22-storey five-star Samarkand Regency Hotel with 234 rooms, including executive suites and two presidential suites, will be put up. This is the first and only hotel in Central Asia being part of LHW, the world's leading hotels association.

Savitsky Plaza, a hotel named after Igor Savitsky, an honored artist of the Uzbek SSR and a collector of avant-garde art objects, is distinguished by its one-of-a-kind interior design and has 179 rooms available for the guests.

Other hotels of the highest category include Silk Road by Minyoun with 242 rooms and Stars of Ulugbek by Lia! Minyoun, named after the great astronomer and mathematician of the Timurid era, counting 174 rooms. Both buildings are managed by the leading Asian hotelier Minyoun Hospitality.

All hotels have conference rooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, bars, gyms, SPAs and swimming pools.

The Congress Hall

At the international congress hall, a multifunctional hall, presidential and VIP halls, rooms for delegations and meeting rooms, as well as banqueting room and exhibition hall will be available.

The medical cluster

The medical cluster of Marakanda Park Hotels will be situated to the south of the rowing canal. Each of the four boutique hotels specializes in a certain type of medical services: preventive medicine, detox, joint and spine treatment, and pulmonary medicine. The second floors of the hotels are allocated for health centers. In addition to medical and treatment rooms, the hotel guests will be offered the services of a cosmetician, massage, mud therapy, therapeutic showers, infrared sauna, pressure chamber. The offered programs are developed for 3, 7, 10 and 14 days of stay. The hotels of the cluster will have a total of 366 rooms.

The Eternal City

Over more than 10 hectares, the image of an ancient city has been recreated, inviting guests of the resort to experience the history and traditions of the lands and peoples of Uzbekistan. Artists, artisans and craftsmen will "settle" on the narrow streets. Visitors to the city will be offered to try national cuisine from different eras and regions of the country and watch authentic street performances. The Eternal City will provide guests with an exceptional opportunity to find themselves at the borderline of Parthian, Hellenistic and Islamic cultures, and observe the diversity of the bygone centuries' heritage with their own eyes. The author and curator of the project is the famous modern Uzbek artist Bobur Ismoilov.

The place of attraction

Resort guests will enjoy green pedestrian zones, open spaces and a well-designed environment. The entrance will be decorated in traditional motifs reminiscent of the majestic arches of Registan. Sports grounds and bike paths, the Volcano aqua zone with swimming pools and a variety of cafes and bars are sure to become a place of attraction. Bicycle rental will be available.

“Samarkand was a major stop on the Great Silk Road, a place where entire civilizations crossed. We believe that Silk Road Samarkand will become a center of international tourism, where residents of the city, tourists, travelers and businessmen from all over the world will be able to spend time with pleasure and benefit. I am sure that the opening of the complex will launch a new era in the history of tourism in Samarkand,” said Artiom V. Egikian, CEO of the managing company of Silk Road Samarkand.

Accessibility

The complex is easily accessible by transport: it takes 20 minutes by car to get there from the historical center of the city, 15 minutes from the international airport and 25 minutes from the train station. The project includes the construction of a road junction and a bypass bridge. You can get to the resort both by car (parking lots are available) and by special shuttles that will be launched when the center opens.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan's efforts to support young people and promote public health

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At the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the year 2021 has been declared in the country as 'The Year of Support of the Youth and Strengthening of Public Health' with large-scale reforms and noble deeds being implemented across the country.

It is worth mentioning that various ministries and agencies of Uzbekistan are taking active part in such initiatives along with the general public of the country.

One of such noble projects has recently been implemented by the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In order to support the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan – the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the Uzbek MoD has provided a practical assistance to Ms. Maftuna Usarova, an Uzbek citizen who was diagnosed with an extremely rare disease – the Takayasu syndrome several years ago.

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Maftuna Usarova

Since 2018, Maftuna has undergone several treatment courses in a number of hospitals in Uzbekistan, including the Central Military Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Defense, and her condition has improved significantly. However, to continue the treatment process without interruption and consolidate the progress achieved, Maftuna needed treatment with the use of state-of-the-art technologies which are available only in a few countries of the world.

With a view to efficiently executing the tasks defined by the Commander-in-Chief, the MoD ensured that Maftuna was admitted in Asklepios Klinik Altona Hospital in Germany to receive treatment that she needed.

The Asklepios Klinik Altona is Europe’s largest medical concern, covering all areas of medical specializations and having more than 100 medical institutions at its disposal. In Hamburg alone, there are six clinics with almost 13,000 medical staff including 1,800 doctors.

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Thanks to the efforts of the Ministry of Defense of Uzbekistan, Maftuna Usarova underwent a two-week treatment course in August 2021 at Asklepios Klinik Altona and was able to significantly improve her condition. At the same time, the treating doctors expressed their readiness to provide an appropriate medical recommendations as necessary even after the Maftuna’s discharge and return to Uzbekistan.

The staff of the Embassies of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Belgium and Germany were closely involved in this noble project. In particular, diplomatic missions provided support to ensure that the patient enjoyed the highest quality services.

In conclusion, one might say that large-scale reforms initiated by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev are giving their results with thousands of people now enjoying high quality medical services.  

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Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan presidential elections are likely to be an acid test for the country’s future course

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As Uzbekistan is on the verge of the upcoming presidential elections set for 24 October, the international community is concerned about the country’s further political course. And for a good reason, writes Olga Malik.

The changes brought by current president Shavkat Mirziyoyev demonstrate a real break with the country’s past. Published in 2017, the Mirziyoyev’s Development Strategy for 2017-2021, aimed to “modernize and liberalize all spheres of life” e.g. state and society; rule of law and the judicial system; economic development; social policy and security; foreign policy, nationalities and religion policies. The proposed steps included the lifting of foreign currency con­trols, tariff reduc­tions, the liberalization of the visa regime and many more.

Such rapid changes were in a big contrast with the conservatism of Islam Karimov, the country’s former President and quickly became the point of interest for European countries and the United States. Earlier last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the meeting with Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov stressed the “Uzbekistan’s progress on its reform agenda, including when it comes to combatting trafficking in persons, protecting religious freedom and expanding space for civil society”. However, he also called for “the importance of promoting the protection of fundamental freedoms, including the need to have a free and competitive electoral process”, alluding to the country’s authoritarian political regime. The country’s authorities as well as the ministries confirm they get loads of recommendations every year from Western partners on how to assure and maintain a more autonomous civil society system.

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Yet, such “overcare” for the Uzbekistan’s democracy and liberty coming from the outside might provoke a reverse effect considering the national pride and independent spirit. For instance, the push for integration of such social values as support of sexual minorities and gay marriages common for European and Western countries may lead to the split in the society as such standards still remain aloof to the Uzbek mentality. The Uzbekistan’s path for liberalization is largely dependent on the national leader’s views while the outside soft power methods will only work when the local people are still given enough of freedom to draw the country’s further compass. The upcoming elections will likely be an acid test for the country’s future.

By Olga Malik

For EU Reporter

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Electoral process transformation in Uzbekistan: Achievements and challenges during 30 years of independence

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"Uzbekistan is a country with rich history and dynamically developing present, with its priority to move towards an open democratic society. Human and civil rights and freedoms where the voice of every citizen is heard are the priorities for a democratic society. A democratic society exists when power is formed legitimately through universal suffrage and free elections. Democratic society and democracy are more often exercised as a political and social phenomenon; its legal foundations are enshrined in normative legal acts," writes Dr. Gulnoza Ismailova, member of the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan.

"The preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan affirms its commitment to the ideals of democracy and social justice. Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan states: "The people are the sole source of state power. This norm reflects the essence of building statehood in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The people and their will are the core of democracy.

"Recognizing the priority of the generally accepted norms of international law Uzbekistan has implemented international standards into its legislation. The Constitution of our country has implemented this provision, reflecting in Article 32: All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have the right to participate in the management and administration of public and state affairs, both directly and through representation. They may exercise this right by way of self-government, referendums and democratic formation of state bodies, as well as development and improvement of public control over activities of state bodies.

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"In modern democracies, elections are the foundation of the principle of democracy, it is the main form of expression of the will of citizens and a form of realization of popular sovereignty. Participation in elections makes it possible to exercise the right to participate in the management of the affairs of society and the state, as well as to control the formation and activities of bodies of both representative and executive power. Paragraph 6 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document establishes that the will of the people, freely and fairly expressed through periodic and genuine elections, is the basis of the authority and legitimacy of the government. The participating States will accordingly respect the right of their citizens to take part in the governing of their country, either directly or through representatives freely chosen by them through fair electoral processes. Article 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan guarantees the right to vote, equality, and freedom of expression.

"On the verge of celebrating the 30th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan, looking back, we can note its bright breakthrough in the field of transparency and openness over the past five years. Uzbekistan has acquired a new image in the international arena. By the 2019 elections held under the slogan 'New Uzbekistan – New elections' is real evidence for that.

"First of all, it should be noted that the elections-2019 were of historical importance, which testified to the irreversibility of the path of adopted reforms. For the first time, the elections were held under the guidance of the Electoral Code, adopted on June 25, 2019, which regulates relations related to the preparation and conduct of elections and establishes guarantees that ensure the free expression of the will of citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The adoption of the Electoral Code served to unify 5 laws and many regulatory documents. The Electoral Code has been fully brought into line with international standards.

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"Secondly, the 2019 elections were held in the context of strengthening democratic principles in the life of society, openness and transparency, significant liberalization of the socio-political environment, and the increased role and status of the media. The principle of transparency and openness is one of the fundamental principles of elections. This principle is enshrined in many international agreements and documents. Its main features are the promulgation of decisions related to the conduct of elections, the obligation of the electoral body (election commission) to publish its decisions on the results of the elections, as well as the ability to carry out public and international observation of the elections.

"Following the statistics, about 60,000 observers of political parties, more than 10,000 observers of citizens' self-government bodies (Mahalla), 1,155 representatives of local and foreign media took part in the monitoring process. In addition, along with local observers, first-time accreditation was granted to a full-fledged OSCE / ODIHR observer mission, and a total of 825 international observers were registered.

"For an objective assessment, we may refer for an example to the Final Report presented by the OSCE / ODIHR Mission, which says that the elections were held against the backdrop of improved legislation and increased tolerance for independent opinions. The report assessed the work of the CEC of the Republic of Uzbekistan positively, saying it "made great efforts for better preparation for the parliamentary elections." It is amazing to see the results of the work done.

"In the year of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of state independence, our country continues cardinal transformations aimed at creating a New Uzbekistan, where human rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests are of the highest value. Among the most important directions in the country are democratic transformations aimed at liberalizing social and political life, and freedom of the media.

"These days, preparatory work is in full swing for an important political event – the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. All processes are conducted openly, transparently, and based on the national electoral legislation and the time frames specified therein. The time for electoral action is both political and legal time. The following changes and additions have been made to the Electoral Code recently this year:

"Primarily, this year, for the first time, presidential elections will be held on the first Sunday of the third decade of October, under the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan introduced by the law dated by February 8 this year. This major political campaign was launched on July 23 this year.

"Second, a procedure for the inclusion in the voter list of the citizens of Uzbekistan who live abroad has been introduced. They can vote regardless they are registered in the consular register of diplomatic missions or not, and a legal basis for voters abroad when using portable ballot boxes at the place of residence or work has been created. This practice was first implemented in the 2019 parliamentary elections.

"Third, this election campaign operates and is formed on the principles based on publicity; for the first time, an estimate of expenses for the preparation and conduct of elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan was openly presented. The exact procedure for paying wages and compensation to members of election commissions, calculating their salaries has been established. To ensure transparency in the use of funds allocated for pre-election campaigning in accordance with the Law on the Financing of Political Parties, a procedure is being introduced for announcing an interim report and a final financial report after the elections, as well as announcing the results of an audit of parties' activities by the Accounting Chamber.

"Fourth, to prevent the receipt of repeated complaints against the election commissions, and their adoption of conflicting decisions, the practice has been introduced that only courts consider complaints about the actions and decisions of election commissions.

"In 2019, during the elections, the Electoral Management Information System (EMIS) and the Unified Electronic Voter List (EECI) were successfully introduced into the national electoral system. The regulation of this system based on the Electoral Code guarantees the implementation of unified voter registration and the principle 'one voter – one vote'. To date, more than 21 million voters have been included in the EESI.

"The organization of presidential elections in New Uzbekistan is a logical continuation of the ongoing large-scale democratic reforms in the country. And they will become a vivid confirmation of the implementation of the tasks defined in the Action Strategy for the five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

"The participation of representatives of international organizations and foreign observers in holding the presidential elections is important as the campaign is based on democratic principles of openness and publicity. In recent years, their number and participation have significantly increased in Uzbekistan, compared to previous elections.

"Thousands of representatives of political parties, citizens' self-government bodies and hundreds of international observers, journalists, including international ones, will observe the process of preparation and conduct of the presidential elections, including the voting of voters.

"In May, experts from the Needs Assessment Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) visited Uzbekistan, who positively assessed the pre-election situation and the process of preparing for the elections, the measures taken to ensure the holding of free and democratic elections in the country. As a result, they expressed an opinion on sending a full-fledged mission to observe the presidential elections.

"I believe that these elections are of historical importance, which will testify the irreversibility of the path of adopted reforms, which aimed at strengthening our democracy."

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