Yerlan ALIMBAYEV, Ambassador at Large Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, National Coordinator on Activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
Post-Astana SCO: Reaching a New Development Level
“... The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has gained international recognition and has become an effective platform for multi-profile cooperation ..."
President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev
(June 9, 2017)
SCO Summit. Astana, 9 June, 2017.(Akorda.kz)
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is actually the direct heir of the Shanghai Five, formed in 1996 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan as a result of the signing of confidence-building agreements in the military field and the mutual reduction of armed forces in the border area. Its agenda has been gradually expanded with issues of foreign policy, economy and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. The summits organised to sign the above agreements became the prototypes of the structure, which was subsequently transformed into a full-fledged Organisation of Multidisciplinary and Multilateral Cooperation. It was renamed into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001 after the accession of Uzbekistan.
Throughout 17 years of existence, SCO cooperation has been continuing to expand, providing more tangible results. At the same time, the international influence of the organisation has also been increasing. Its main rules include the introduction of new initiatives and firm implementation of the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for different civilisations and the desire to develop a new model of international relations.
The SCO summit held in Astana on June 9, 2017 made the historic decision to accept India and Pakistan as full members. This step demonstrated the openness of the organisation and its growing international standing.
The benchmarks, parameters and tasks for the further development of the Organisation are already laid in joint regulatory and legal documents related to its various activities for definite periods, as well as in the SCO Development Strategy until 2025.
In accordance with the adopted documents, the SCO member states will continue to enhance cooperation aimed at ensuring practical partnership in the area of regional security, tackling challenges and threats, creating favorable conditions within the SCO for sustainable trade and investment collaboration and expanding cultural and humanitarian ties, as well as strengthening the SCO's international credibility.
The cooperation on combatting the so-called “powers of the three evils" and counteracting the spread of psychotropic substances has been intensive. In particular, the signing of relevant policy documents is now under consideration.
At the same time, the economic course of interaction with the creation of mechanisms for financing joint projects, such as the Development Bank and the SCO Special Account, needs to be intensified.
The implementation of the transit potential of the Organisation and the formation of regional transport and transit corridors are promising. Cooperation in the field of modernisation, including expansion of the network of international logistics centres in the SCO space, can become an important direction of joint activities.
Along with this, one of the key aspects of joint cooperation is the sphere of agriculture. In this direction, we can facilitate further promotion of the SCO member states' Programme of Cooperation in Food Security. This programme will make it possible to reduce the food risks in our countries.
It should be noted that on the international track, the SCO has done serious work to strengthen cooperation with multilateral associations.
Thus, cooperation with the United Nations is built based on the UN General Assembly resolution of 2004 granting observer status to the SCO in the General Assembly. In 2010, the Declaration on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the two organisations was adopted. This document facilitates the establishment of SCO interaction with such specialised UN agencies as the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and a number of other agencies. Active efforts are underway to establish cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
It should be noted that last year at the SCO summit in Astana for the first time in the history of the Organisation it was held with the participation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, which testifies to the growing authority of the SCO in the international arena. In addition, in November 2016 the United Nations headquarters in New York hosted an event initiated by the Secretariat and Kazakhstan that chaired the SCO, aimed at strengthening the Organisation's position and authority in the world arena. As a result, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on cooperation between the UN and the SCO.
Proceeding to the issue on the role of Kazakhstan in the SCO, there is a need to emphasise that since the establishment of the organisation the Republic of Kazakhstan has been and remains one of proactive founding states that initiated many different ideas, projects, documents and programmes. Together with other SCO members, we formed the Shanghai Spirit, characterised by mutual respect, trust, equality and the desire for common prosperity.
The main priorities of our country within the SCO are strengthening regional security, developing economic cooperation, fulfilling transit and transport potential and deepening cultural and humanitarian ties.
Our country has been closely cooperating with all SCO member states since its establishment, has been promoting its strengthening and development and has been contributing to the improvement of the legal framework and enhancement of the Organisation's international standing.
From June 2016-June 2017, Kazakhstan acted as the presiding state in the SCO. During Kazakhstan's presidency, great importance was attached to addressing new challenges and threats, as well as ensuring regional and global security.
Thus on the initiative of Kazakhstan, the Astana Summit adopted the Statement on Joint Counteraction to International Terrorism and signed the Convention on Countering Extremism aimed at neutralising radical movements, identifying potential terrorists and promptly responding to the propaganda of extremist ideas.
The Astana SCO Summit kicked off the resumption of the work of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group at a higher level and in an extended format. Within this group, the key topics are drug trafficking, regional security issues and assistance to Afghanistan in rebuilding the economy and achieving a national truce.
On the initiative of Kazakhstan, the SCO agenda discusses the prospects for expanding and intensifying joint cooperation to promote trade and attract investment in the SCO space. Practical activities have been launched to implement the Agreement on Creation of Favorable Conditions for International Road Transport.
The forthcoming meeting of heads of state will be held for the first time in an eight-sided format on June 9-10, 2018 in Qingdao (Shandong Province, PRC). The leaders of our countries will sum up the results of the work done over the year and outline new plans for the next year.
Based on the results of the meeting of the organisation's Council of Foreign Ministers held in Beijing on April 24, 2018, the sides agreed on the agenda for the summit and have already begun elaborating the adoption of the Action Plan for 2018-2022 to implement the provisions of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO member states, as well as a number of decisions and documents concerning security, economy, trade, environmental protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation.
Summing up, we can safely say that the SCO vector of Kazakhstan's foreign policy was established as a solid direction of cooperation, characterised by constant growth dynamics, versatility and prospects in the full range of issues.