Cooperation aimed at bolstering peace and security
In accordance with traditions of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a member state presides at the Organization each year. Following the last year’s summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, the chairmanship in SCO switched to the Republic of Uzbekistan. Traditionally, the presiding nation arranges for summit of the Organization on its territory.
During its chairmanship in 2004, Uzbekistan gathered SCO member states, observer nations and honorary guests for the first time in Tashkent. Today, the capital of our country is host to the summit again.
This time around, the meeting of Council of the Heads of State of Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been organized June 10 at Kuksaroy complex.
SCO summit started with a meeting in a restricted format. It has been attended by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao, President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyz Republic Ruslan Kazakbayev.
During the talks, the sides discussed issues related to perfecting the SCO’s work as a whole and of its bodies in particular, boosting cooperation in political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres between member states of the Organization, consolidating regional security and stability, joining efforts in countering terrorism, religious extremism and separatism, drugs and arms smuggling, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the situation in Afghanistan.
The standing of any international institution is defined by the efficiency of its activities and the attention granted to it by the international community. In a relatively short period of time, the SCO has turned into a reputable international structure. On June 15, 2001, the heads of six nations inked the Declaration on the Establishment of SCO in the Chinese city of Shanghai. The summit participants agreed then to set up two permanent bodies of SCO – the Secretariat and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). The founding document of the Organization – the Charter – was approved June 7, 2002, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The institution thus acquired an international legal status. The major goals and objectives are identified as bolstering mutual confidence and good neighborly relations among participating countries, fostering closer practical interaction in political, trade and economic, scientific-technical, cultural and humanitarian areas, ensuring peace, security and stability in the region.
Since the inception of SCO, a number of nations have expressed their desire to join the Organization. Today, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observer states.
In order to enhance the scope of the Organization’s activities, Banking Association, Business Council and SCO Forum were instituted during 2005-2006. The Banking Association serves to support regional economic cooperation, fund joint projects. The volume of attracted investments for various projects has so far totaled 742 million US dollars.
The Business Council is designed to coordinate action directed at addressing economic cooperation through establishing and maintaining direct contacts between entrepreneurial communities and financial institutions of SCO member countries. As a non-governmental body, thus, the Council brings together business leaders of member states. Along with priority spheres as energy, transport and telecommunications, banking and finance sector, the Council enriches its work with social content by engaging itself in science and technology, education and public healthcare, facilitating innovative know-how in agriculture.
SCO Forum, as a sort of consulting and expertise mechanism, integrates scientific research and political academic institutions with a view to primarily support SCO’s activities from methodical and strategic perspectives. Within this group, academic communities of SCO member nations arrange mutual consultations, negotiations, conferences and other similar forums on diverse topics in politics, economy, security, social and environmental protection.
In their interrelations, SCO member states abide by the “Shanghai Spirit”. The phrase implies a strict adherence to principles and rules of consensus in decision making, mutual confidence and commitment, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity, common aspiration to progress.
At the current meeting of the Council of Heads of State, activities of the Republic of Uzbekistan during its presidency in SCO received a tremendous positive appraisal. Over this period of time, Uzbekistan has placed a particular emphasis at developing the SCO’s international contacts, perfecting the normative and regulatory frameworks, elaborating and implementing initiatives to bolster security and consolidate stability, by adhering to principles, objectives and tasks outlined in the Charter of the Organization.
In particular, the President of Uzbekistan put forward a number of proposals aimed at improving the decision making mechanisms within the SCO framework and activities of its constituent bodies. Signed in Tashkent, the Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the United Nations and SCO will facilitate the development of constructive interaction between the UN Counterterrorism Committee and SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.
Today, barely any problem can be addressed with the efforts of a single nation. In particular, issues of providing for security and environmental protection require coordinated action at least on the regional level. In this context, building cooperation between SCO and the UN opens up extensive opportunities for joint solution of problems important to both sides. Such bodies of the UN as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Counter Narcotics and Crime Committee, Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia have already been interacting with SCO. The approved Joint Declaration will serve to further widen the scope and enhance the capacities of this cooperation.
Currently, a plan of SCO’s interaction with partner organizations is approved, which, building on signed memoranda of understanding, is called to make further steps in expanding cooperation between the Organization and such authoritative international institutions as UNESCAP, ASEAN, CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO.
Uzbekistan attaches critical importance to executing the action plan for implementation of the program for multilateral trade and economic cooperation through 2020. In particular, advancing transport communications has been granted priority policy status in SCO. Given the magnitude of a soonest completion of reconstructing the E-40 international highway for all member states, Uzbekistan has fully met its commitments to complete work on its own territory. In addition, our republic is building a free industrial and economic zone (FIEZ) in Navoi, a central part of the E-40. Doubtless, as long as new joint projects are implemented in Central Asia to increase production and construction of roads, the significance of FIEZ Navoi for SCO countries will rise. Members of the Organization can take active part in the development of this zone.
During the negotiations at Kuksaroy, the sides underscored the importance of cooperation not merely in the production and processing of raw materials, but also in high-tech, elaboration and realization of joint investment projects in production of goods with high added value with an eye to contemporary realities. Problems associated with employment, sustainable economic growth and, crucially, consolidating social stability throughout the region, could be addressed through these measures.
The heads of state and government also exchanged views on priority areas of a multilateral strategy for cooperation within SCO, weathering the impact and preventing devastating effects of the global financial and economic slowdown, as well as the pressing issues of enhancing relations in economic and social spheres.
At the meeting of heads of state in an enlarged format, these issues have been put under a wider review, when dealing, in particular, with further intensification of a multi-faceted and mutually beneficial cooperation within SCO, as well as on modern-day regional and international issues. Along with leaders of member nations, the meeting has been attended by heads of observer countries, namely Mongolia’s President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Manuchehr Mottaki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of India Shri S.M. Krishna, while President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and the Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov were invited to the summit as honorary guests.
The meeting has also been attended by SCO Secretary General Muratbek Imanaliyev, Executive Director of RATS Jenisbek Jumanbekov, UN Under Secretary General Jan Kubis, Chairman of CIS Executive Committee Sergei Lebedev, CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, Deputy Secretary General of EurAsEC M.Musataev, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN S.Sisovong.
Worth mentioning is the fact that, along with observer countries, the SCO unites half the population of the Earth. This increases its capacity to carry out its core trade, namely, advancing economic cooperation and boosting regional security. During the talks with representatives of observer nations and honorary guests, these two priorities have principally been reiterated, as the underlying purpose of the Organization is to promote cooperation and common progress through ensuring security.
The development of large-scale economic, financial and investment cooperation amid the global financial and economic crisis helps primarily to depreciate the unwelcome impact and prevent harmful consequences of the recession. In harmony with this, a basis for overall economic progress is built.
Obviously, bilateral relations between the members and observers of the Organization are set up at some level and vigorously developing, while scarcely leveling the magnitude of multilateral relations. Put into operation in 2009, the “Central Asia – China” pipeline has been a creditable example of regional cooperation. Also on the basis of multilateral cooperation, trans-Afghan transport corridor is being constructed, opening the way for Central Asian countries to the Indian Ocean’s ports.
With the initiative of President Islam Karimov, the leader of Afghanistan was invited to attend the first SCO summit in Tashkent in 2004. Since that time, Hamid Karzai has been engaged in every summit meeting of the Organization. As long as one of the core activities of SCO – the issue of amplifying security – is discussed, the conflict in Afghanistan cannot be ignored. Consequently, the participation of the Afghan President in these discussions makes it possible to deeper analyze problems; discuss the issues of socio-economic reconstruction in detail.
The summit provided a platform to exchange views on the situation in Kyrgyz Republic, during which participants expressed willingness and support to render necessary assistance to that country. “The critical thing, – said Islam Karimov – is to find solutions in the legal field and to prevent further escalation of tension.”
During the meeting, heads of state comprehensively exchanged views on security issues, in particular, information security, the joint counteraction of information threats.
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov has also been invited to the summit not accidentally. Working together in matters of enhancing regional security and cooperation has been more than appropriate. In this context, communications systems, infrastructure, transit potential of Turkmenistan provides a useful resource for SCO countries.
The leaders also discussed issues of interaction and information exchange between financial institutions, banks, stock exchanges. In order to bolster regional cooperation, the sides exchanged views on removing obstacles to the development of trade and economic relations, wider support and promotion of direct contacts between business entities. Enlargement of investment cooperation in transport and communications, agriculture, high-tech are identified as priority areas.
Following the talks, the Declaration of the Meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States has been signed. So have Decision on Approving the Regulations on Admission of New Members to SCO, Decision on Approving the SCO Rules of Procedure, Decision on Approving the SCO Secretary General’s Report on the Activities during the past year, Decision on Approving the Report of the Council of SCO RATS on the Activities in 2009. Information statement on the results of the meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States has been penned. Following the meeting, agreements signed among governments of SCO member states on cooperation in agriculture and fighting crime.
At the meeting with media representatives, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov noted that the meeting took place in the spirit of mutual confidence and respect, working attitude, and that the reached agreements would serve the interests of member nations and observers countries. Reviewing the activity of SCO for the entire period of its existence, the President of our state emphasized that the open and non-bloc nature of the Organization has been cementing that excludes confrontational approach to addressing hot issues of regional and international development.
“We have comprehensively discussed issues related overall consolidation of multi-faceted and mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as pressing regional and international matters,” Islam Karimov put. “Participants of the meeting have agreed that in the period between the summits in Yekaterinburg and Tashkent, a major substantive work has been carried out, including fostering the legal framework for the Organization’s functioning, raising its efficiency and systematization of its activities. Thus under the chairmanship of Uzbekistan, we have managed to secure the Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the UN and SCO during UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to this country in April 2010. I am convinced that the adoption of this document will actively engage the UN podium to address the tasks defined by SCO, including the joint promotion of its member states’ interests”.
Secretary General of SCO Muratbek Imanaliyev conveyed his sincere gratitude to the people and the leadership of the Republic of Uzbekistan for hosting the summit at the highest level, stressing on behalf of all participants that the occasion has been productive.
“Documents penned today constitute a new step forward in advancing the SCO, in elevating its international weight. Tasks identified during Uzbekistan presidency have been accomplished,” Muratbek Imanaliev declared.
This completed the work SCO summit in Tashkent. Beyond any doubt, it will make a special page in the history of the Organization as a summit during which critical agreements were reached on uplifting the SCO’s efficiency, bolstering regional cooperation and security.