Text of President Islam Karimov’s Speech at the Joint Session of the Legislative Chamber and Senate of Uzbekistan’s Oliy Majlis
It gives me a tremendous pleasure to congratulate you on the victory in the last elections to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, on the high confidence that our people has expressed for you, and wish you all a sound health, happiness and every success in your activities.
In the opinion of the absolute majority from among the more than 70 thousand local and over 340 foreign observers, officials of prominent international organizations who took part in the observation of the vote, the elections passed in conditions of openness, publicity, in full compliance with the norms and standards of international law.
First and foremost, the elections demonstrated a considerably amplified socio-political activity of our public and people, the authority and maturity of political parties as well as civic institutions.
At the same time, the vote became a bright reflection of practical outcomes of democratic transformation and reforms undertaken in our country to safeguard the human rights, freedoms and interests, of building a democratic nation and a robust civil society.
A convincing confirmation of all this is the process of preparations and conduct of elections as well as their results. They were attended by nearly 18 million 500 thousand citizens, or 88.9 percent of people eligible to cast ballot.
It is notable in this regard that in the 22 out of 135 electoral districts, where the pre-elections rivalry of candidates for deputyship of the Legislative Chamber proved especially acute, there were no candidates elected in the first round, and those districts had to vote for the second time, suggestive of the democratic nature of the elections.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan, local electoral commissions, the thousands of activists, who have done their best to ensure that the elections be carried out in accordance with the law, the norms of our Constitution, universal democratic principles and requirements.
I take a great delight to extend profound gratitude on behalf of our people and me personally to the representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, national elections commissions of many countries, along with experts and observers from abroad who performed a responsible mission.
Today, summarizing the outcomes of the activities of the Oliy Majlis of previous composition, we should evaluate objectively the work of our parliament, which has proved a worthwhile contribution to our achievement of practical results on the way of further enhancing the democratic reforms and building a civil society.
For the past period, more than 140 laws and normative acts were passed in total.
The Concept of Intensification of Democratic Reforms and Formation of Civil Society in the Country, adopted by the Oliy Majlis in November 2010, has indisputably become a strategic program of political and economic reforms that determine our tomorrow’s day.
The 27 laws passed in the framework of the Concept, the procedure of their extensive discussion and adoption, proved to be an important factor and an effective input into the further democratization and liberalization of government and management, into securing the independence of the judiciary, freedom of speech and information, freedom of choice and the development of the electoral system and civic institutions.
The amendments introduced to the Constitution in 2011 and 2014 in line with the Concept and to a range of legislative acts approved in the sphere of state building have helped ensure the further optimization of powers of principal bodies of government – President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Oliy Majlis, the government of the country, the evolution of the mechanisms of checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power.
The essence of reforms in this realm has been the considerable elevation of the role of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, local representative bodies in the system of government, enhancement of independence, powers and at the same time the responsibility of the government and executive bodies for unconditional fulfillment and further reinforcement of practicality of passed laws.
The parliament’s special role needs to be stressed in the systemic efforts undertaken in the country to further the democratic reforms and liberalization of the judicial sphere.
About 30 acts of legislation adopted by the parliament have come to be an important factor in securing the rule of law, in consolidating the independence of the judiciary, uplifting the effectiveness of law enforcement system in reliable protection of human rights and freedoms.
The legislature has made a substantial input into the advancement of civil society institutions and the consolidation of independence of mass media. Around 10 acts of legislation adopted in this sphere, including the Law on Citizens’ Self-Government Bodies in a new edition, the Law on Social Partnership and other normative acts have considerably bolstered the role and significance of civic institutions in addressing the most critical challengesin the socio-economic development of the country, in boosting the social activity of people and securing the balance of interests in the society.
I would like to note particularly the activities of the Environmental Movement of Uzbekistan. The life itself has proved the aptness of what was approved in 2008 the decision on granting the representatives of the Movement fifteen deputy seats in the Legislative Chamber.
The parliamentary group of the Movement in the lower house of the parliament has for recent years initiated 9 laws, including the one on Ecological Oversight, instrumental in ensuring the healthcare of the population, protection of the environment, rational use of natural resources, active engagement of civic institutions into this sphere of activity.
The parliament has passed more than 30 acts of legislation who have turned into an important foundation for the further enhancement of democratic and market reforms, liberalization, restructuring of the economy, extensive development of small business, entrepreneurship, farmer movement.
Currently, the Oliy Majlis, on the recommendation of the government, considers annually and endorses the Program of Job Creation and Population Employment, and carries out parliamentary oversight of its implementation. As the outcomes of the realization of the Program demonstrates that more than 980 thousand jobs were created in 2014, including those for youths, graduates of professional colleges.
In general, the created normative base has become, especially amid the ongoing financial and economic crisis in the world, an important factor in the sustainable socio-economic development of the country. The gross domestic product growth rates in Uzbekistan – among the few nations throughout the globe – have been no less than 8 percent within the last ten years. The volumes of industrial production, investments and real incomes of the population have been dynamically increasing.
And we have every right to take pride in results like these.
Also especially noteworthy is the endeavors of the houses of the Oliy Majlis on the introduction of new, modern forms of legislative activity.
The Legislative Chamber for the first time conducted a legal experiment to test the provisions of the Law on the Openness of Activities of Government and Management Bodies. According to foreign experts, the experiment had a unique nature and allowed for the elaboration of modern methods of preparation and adoption of quality acts of legislation meeting contemporary requirements.
I would like to underscore the great contribution of the Institute of Monitoring the Acting Legislation timely set up by us to raising the effectiveness of parliamentary activities. As an independent institution, it exerts a serious influence on the qualitative improvement of the legislative and lawmaking activity. Of particular importance are the efforts undertaken by the Institute to bolster comparative analysis of the acting legislation and study the international experience in lawmaking. Without any doubt, these works allow for finding the best solution of challenges in lawmaking, which requires their further development and creation of essential organizational-technical conditions for that.
Today, one can state with confidence that the goal that we have set for ourselves exactly ten years ago by establishing a bicameral parliament, where the Legislative Chamber works on a constant and professional basis, and the legislative body of territorial representation – Senate – functions, has been achieved to a full extent. The quality of laws has increased, while the balance of regional, sector and national interests is being secured to a growingly effective extent.
Deriving from the fact that we intend to improve the work of the parliament, to cardinally raise the quality of the lawmaking activity with an eye to contemporary requirements, I deem it would be reasonable – while assessing objectively the operation of the Oliy Majlis for the past period – to expound on a few shortcomings that have taken place.
After all, all of us understand well, without any doubt, that if we do not acknowledge and realize the very essence of mistakes and drawbacks, we cannot remove them.
First. It stands to be recognized that the Oliy Majlis attaches insufficient significance to law application, law enforcement practice.
We rarely ask ourselves as to what has changed with the adoption of these laws in our life, how they influence the development, evolution of socio-political, socio-economic and judicial reforms. We speak of, say, liberalization of legislation, but at the same time the results of these efforts can best be evaluated by how these processes of liberalization have been felt by people in their everyday lives, how they are assessed by journalists and observers. It should be acknowledged at the same time that the mechanism of feedback that allows the parliament to build its work with national eye to the fact how the laws passed by it impact the lives of people, the economic and political development practically does not work.
For this reason I believe the pressing issue of today should become the fixation in the laws regulating lawmaking activity of the houses of the Oliy Majlis of such normative and legal mechanisms that would envisage a compulsory examination of processes of delivering the laws to the executors as well as the effectiveness of law enforcement, and thus securing a swift introduction of corrections into the programs of lawmaking, control-analytical works of the houses of the legislature.
Second. As the results of conducted analysis show, often the adopted laws and amendments and addenda to them barely function because of the fact that, first, they do not contain tangible mechanisms of the realization of norms they comprise, and, second, corresponding by-laws without which the provisions of these laws can simply not work are not made or they are made untimely.
In this respect, one can wonder why framework laws that our parliament “loves” to pass do not “land”, are not carried through to enforcement.
I think one of the major reasons here is that when passing laws we rarely ask ourselves a question that should be raised in the very process of its elaboration. That is, how effectively this law will work in the real life. And that is becoming a reason of duplication and contradictions taking place in our legislation and thus it leads to the downgrading of its effectiveness.
Let me cite an example. In accordance with the Concept, we adopted the Law on Stock Companies and Protection of the Rights of Shareholders in its new edition in May 2014. It should be admitted candidly that this law – an important act of legislation in the sphere of corporate management – has not started working to its full. Shareholders, first of all the minority share holders, as the practice shows, have not been using their rights to a full extent; they do not exert influence on the activities of companies.
One of the major reasons here is that administrative-normative, judicial mechanisms that secure its execution were not envisaged in other spheres of law, in particular the administrative, criminal, economic legislation, simultaneously with the adoption of this law. Specifically, the law lacks stipulation of administrative liability of officials for violation of the rights of shareholders.
At the same time, as the experience of countries with advanced system of corporate management, in their legislation the liability and judicial protection cover practically all the field of corporate relations and the procedures associated with it.
We ought to understand very well that the measures taken in the enhancement of market reforms, particularly those stimuli and preferences we envision in laws in order to promote small business, private entrepreneurship, will work only in the case if they are supported by normative institutions of other fields of law mentioned above and, first and foremost, judicial mechanisms of effect.
In modern circumstances it is important to secure the adoption of laws of direct action, codified acts of legislation, a timely passage of by-laws that would ensure full realization of provisions of newly approved laws.
All these issues should become subject to fixed, everyday attention of both houses of the Oliy Majlis. I would like to reiterate: it is primarily the supreme legislative body who passes laws that ought to be interested in not only their unconditional execution, but also in ensuring their consistency, in the systemic nature of legislation, in the full-fledged nature of the system of legal regulation in general.
Third. It is vital to provide for an extensive and effective discussion of bills at the most diverse levels of government and civil society institutions. It is noteworthy that we practically do not bother ourselves with this or do it ceremonially.
Reasons behind this are plenty: we apparently are afraid that the bill during such deliberations will get “overgrown” with new provisions, thus having to change or revise the draft law. Simultaneously, it is also the ambitions and insufficient professional training of architects of bills that should be taken into account.
It is no secret that practitioners with great experience in the field of their activities sometimes better know the subject of the laws than lawmakers. For the sake of the cause, for the sake of raising the quality and effectiveness of legislation, I believe, it is imperative to hold detailed discussion of draft laws with the engagement of the most extensive circle of scientists, highly qualified specialists and experts.
The wider public and representatives of civic institutions ought to be engaged extensively to the deliberation of bills, especially those acts of legislation and decisions that deal directly with the vital interests and social rights of the population.
What we mean is the comprehensive elevation of the role of citizenry in government of the country. And because the bedrock of government is law, civil society institutions should take the most active part in the lawmaking activity. In this regard, it is essential to secure the openness of the activities of both houses of the parliament, all-round informing of the wider public on the legislature’s lawmaking and scrutinizing-analytical works.
Fourth. It is crucial to raise the efforts directed at the discussion and elaboration of draft laws to a qualitatively new level on the basis of their comprehensive, profoundly comparative analysis with foreign legal practice. It is necessary to admit that we fail to attach enough significance to this issue either.
At the same time, this dimension, that is, conduct of various conferences, seminars, round table discussions aimed at studying the expertise of lawmaking activity of democratic nations as well as comparative analysis of draft laws in the making with models of similar laws passed in advanced foreign countries, would afford us a new material to enrich a concrete bill and our legislation in general. It is for this very reason that such efforts should become in our hands an effective tool in perfecting the lawmaking activities.
All the above mentioned, in its turn, requires considerable elevation of the effectiveness of analytical works carried out in the legislature, the level of training, information awareness, competence – in a word, the proficiency of the deputies. In this respect, securing a constant uplifting of the level of professionalism of lawmakers should become the most critical element for the entire five-year period this Oliy Majlis is to function.
Fifth. Comprehensive bolstering of the role and significance of groups of political parties in the parliament and the further consistent evolution of the multiparty system in general is coming to be a critical challenge in the activity of the Legislative Chamber. We have every reason today to stress the importance of the 2007 Constitutional Law on Boosting the Role of Political Parties in the Renewal and Further Democratization of Government and Modernization of the Country.
That law offered a clear-cut definition of the legal status of the parliamentary group of a political party, including – for the first time – the status of parliamentary majority and parliamentary opposition, its exclusive rights and guarantees of effective activity. The role of the deputy groups in representative bodies of government has been notably bolstered for overseeing the activities of local government bodies. These and a range of other fundamental provisions of the law have exerted an immense influence on the development and consolidation of actual multiparty system in the country.
It is important that it is in the Oliy Majlis – the parliament and the local representative bodies that emerging contradictions among parliamentary groups and individual deputies ought not to be glossed over, and that it should be the very platform for keen debates, rigorous rivalry built on the promotion of interests and policy goals of political parties, and the views of deputies in the end.
To be sure, we all understand that discussions and competition of ideas and programs, alternative bills should focus on fundamental, critical socio-economic and political issues on serious and professional basis.
Sixth. I would like to make a special stress on the issue of initiative-driven nature and activeness of parliamentary groups and individual deputies.
We cannot deem it normal that for the last five years only 19 out of 140 laws passed by the parliament were initiated by the deputies of the Legislative Chamber. Moreover, as few as 3 of them were new, holistic acts of legislation, while the remaining 16 dealt with the introduction of individual amendments and addenda, by and large of juridical-technical character, into the acting laws.
I think you will agree with me that in contemporary circumstances the activities of parliamentary groups and their deputies concerning the initiation and promotion of bills that the nation is in need ought to be cardinally revised. The activities should be more proactive and substantive, and they should be built with an eye to the interests and directives of political parties of those groups and their electorate.
At the same time, postures of political parties and their parliamentary groups on laws, the essence of inter-group discussions on vitally important issues of socio-political and socio-economic development should in full be brought to the notice of the wider public and the electorate. It is in this very element that the essence of democratic organization of power, power of the people, parliamentarianism lies.
I think it would hardly be redundant to point out that the activeness of mass media on this front also leaves much to be desired.
There are also such facts when individual lawmakers just avoid meeting with representatives of media, including the television.
Seventh. In the context of constitutional reforms, the work of both houses of the Oliy Majlis, first and foremost that of parliamentary groups, should be built on a qualitatively new basis on the conduct of parliamentary oversight of the activities of government bodies, of unconditional execution of laws passed, of the most important national programs of socio-economic and socio-political development.
As the results of research demonstrate, for the past five years only 7 requests on certain social issues were addressed to various government bodies by both houses of the legislature. There is little need today to say that in new constitutional circumstances, parliamentary hearings, systematic reports of government members, of heads of government bodies and management agencies on the state of affairs in the execution of requirements of legislation, detailed responses to the requests of deputies ought to become everyday parliamentary practice.
A critical challenge is the cardinal improvement of the work of lawmakers with the electorate, introduction of modern methods of parliamentary scrutiny into the activities of both houses, including the oversight of the formation and execution of the National Budget, the most central economic document of the country.
These and a whole range of other contemporary methods and forms of carrying our controlling functions of the houses of the Oliy Majlis should be systemically and clearly fixed in the draft law on Parliamentary Oversight widely discussed currently by the expert community of the country.
Eighth. Boosting the effectiveness of interaction between the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of Oliy Majlis remains as the most crucial task.
Expounding on this subject, I deem it essential to underscore that the two houses of the parliament is a holistic system, a single integrated legislative body of the nation. It should be admitted frankly that in the past, in the beginning of the practical activity of the bicameral parliament there were instances whereby instead of leading a joint work dedicated to achieve common ends, defining the meaning of the legislative activity, the two houses were often in confrontation over what house is more competent and better understands the essence and significance of laws adopted.
As a result of setting up a coordinating council for the organization of interaction of house of the Oliy Majlis comprising their representatives, as well as a range of other organizational-normative measures approved in recent years, that problem is currently out of agenda. I think it would be reasonable to continue working on this front in order to prevent such misunderstandings among the deputies and senators of our legislature from now on.
Dear people’s deputies and senators, participants of the session!
Objectively assessing the developments unfolding in the world one must note that we cannot stay aloof of the mounting tension and risks, of the growing geopolitical confrontation, the intensifying struggle for spheres of influence, radicalism, terrorism and extremism.
In an increasingly aggravating situation as such, we in Uzbekistan, like in many other nations, in order to impede real threats to peace and security, preserve the peace and stability in the country, of the environment of mutual understanding and harmony, to be ready for any possible challenges of contemporary times, have defined our principled stance and policy clearly and plainly.
Along with this, the world community is well aware of the security principles and posture stipulated in the Constitutional Law on the Approval of the Concept of Foreign Policy Activity of the Republic of Uzbekistan, adopted in 2012.
In this regard, it is imperative to stress again that we consider it our primary task to further cement the kind relations and mutually advantageous cooperation with all the countries, first and foremost with our neighbors. Crucially, Uzbekistan has always been and remains to be an advocate of peace-loving policy that envisages, first of all, non-alignment to any kind of military blocs, barring the deployment of foreign military bases in our territory and the deployment of our military service men and women beyond the borders of the country.
Amid the international situation unfolding today, it is this very approach is the most correct and optimal for us.
Dear deputies and senators!
I congratulate you again. Be worth of the high confidence of our people. I wish you a robust health, every success and the best of luck in the lawmaking activity, happiness and wellbeing to your families.
Now we have to exchange views on another critical issue.
Article 98 of our Constitution and the corresponding laws adopted on its basis clearly define the order of nominating the candidacy for the position of the Prime Minister by a political party who has garnered the greatest number of deputy seats in the elections for the Legislative Chamber of the parliament, of consideration of that candidate by the President, its discussion and approval by both houses of the Oliy Majlis.
The functions, legitimate powers and responsibility of the Prime Minister are fixed in the Basic Law.
All of us know well that in accordance with the latest amendments and addenda introduced to the Constitution, the tasks, powers – in a word, the responsibility of the Prime Minister and the executive branch – have been expanded to a great extent.
It is by no means a secret to anyone that when we deal with nominating and endorsing the candidate to the post of the Prime Minister, we all understand that it is a rather intricate and responsible issue.
To nominate to this position of a person wielding profound knowledge, extensive thinking, great life experience and organizational skills, hardened in diverse trials – in a word, an exigent person competent in issues relating to the development of the country, a person willing to assume responsibility for the realization of wide-ranging projects, crucially, the one capable of managing dialogue with people in any circumstances, able to win authority, the one distinct with his/her human qualities – all this is indisputably a thorny and difficult challenge.
In this regard I believe the candidacy proposed for your consideration should be a person who has made a worthwhile contribution to the achievement of high goals by our nation today with real outcomes of his/her activities.
And, however hard be it to find such an individual who would met all these requirements, taking into account all the views voiced and the conclusions made, I propose Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoev, who has been active in the position of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan, for this post.
I think you, dear deputies and senators, know this person very well.
During his leadership activity, Shavkat Mirziyoev occupied various responsible posts, has won authority with his great organizational abilities and practical experience. He is well known by hokims of all regions and districts, heads of all levels, and our entire people.
I am convinced that you, people’s representatives, distinguished deputies and senators, will support this candidate.