The SCO Secretary-General Bolat Nurgalijev gave an interview to RIA Novosti , where he told of the forthcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Yekaterinburg, as well as of SCO’s day-to-day activity.
- SCO is still considered as a “young” regional organization. However its activity has already gone beyond the region and today SCO is one of the most influential and powerful international structures. What role does it play in the world arena, in what directions is its influence the most appreciable?
- Yes, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been created relatively recently. This year it will be eight years. SCO’S wide recognition was ensured by its commitment to principles of peace, cooperation, openness, non-confrontment with non-regional structures. We always keep the “Shanghai Spirit” in our practical affairs – the spirit of mutual trust, mutual advantage, equality, mutual consultations, respect to cultural diversity and striving for joint development.
To effectively react to actual challenges and threats, ensure peace, security and stability in our region and the adjacent space is possible if to adhere to coordinated approaches, and SCO has already proved itself to be a platform for development of joint measures.
SCO’s role mainly shows up in the spheres of cooperation such as policy, security, economy and humanitarian ties. In the sphere of policy our states have deepened mutual trust to a considerable degree, ensured effective coordination of positions in questions of principle of the international activity.
Cooperation in the sphere of security has been always a priority area of the SCO activity. Considerable results have been reached in the joint struggle against terrorism, separatism, extremism, in counteraction to illegal drug and weapon trafficking, transboundary organized crime.
In recent years more and more attention has been paid in the Organization to cooperation in the economic sphere, significant efforts have been made for the implementation of the long-term economic cooperation Program and specific projects of mutual interest. Of course, forming of a joint humanitarian-information space of SCO requires strenuous work on relations development in the spheres of culture, education, health care, sports, tourism, science and other areas.
- Please tell what main issues will be discussed at the forthcoming SCO summit in Yekaterinburg?
- At the forthcoming regular (the ninth in succession) meeting of the heads of the SCO member states in Yekaterinburg a detailed exchange of opinions will be held concerning the current international and regional situation. It is expected that a joint position will be specified on actual questions such as counteraction to consequences of global financial crisis, economic and financial stability in the Organization member states, creation of a new, more just and representative international financial order. Certainly, questions of cooperation in the sphere of security and struggle against international terrorism, the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and transboundary organized crime will appear on the agenda. It is obvious, and the Moscow conference on Afghanistan that was held in March 2009 under the auspices of SCO confirmed that questions of stabilization promotion in this long-suffering country and terroristic and narcotic threats counteraction will be discussed in detail. I am sure that a key role of the UN as a universal instrument will be highlighted. By tradition the SCO further development trends discussion is expected, as well as its cooperation with the observer states and other regional organizations.
- Is a single anti-crisis strategy formulation by the SCO countries possible?
- All the SCO countries have passed their own anti-crisis programs and are carrying out measures in bilateral and multilateral formats on minimization of the world financial crisis impact on socio-economic development. There are certain achievements in this direction; positive experience of a number of countries should be taken into account and used.
In October in Astana the Heads of Government of SCO advanced an initiative for an examination of joint overcoming the world financial crisis consequences. With due consideration of particular importance at the current stage of the activation of ties between entrepreneurial circles and banking structures, the SCO Business Council and Interbank Association were recommended to look into the possibility of joint organization of an economic forum of heads of leading business structures with the participation of the observer states representatives and dialogue partners.
Thus, an international conference on joint overcoming the world financial crisis consequences within the framework of SCO is planned in June in St. Petersburg. Participation of authoritative representatives of state and private financial-banking structures, manufacturers and entrepreneurs is expected.
I would like to direct attention to adoption by the Council of Heads of Government of the Plan update for fulfillment of multilateral trade and economic cooperation program. The present document was actualized with account of recent trends in the world economy and needs for optimization of priority directions of economic cooperation within the framework of SCO. A number of projects in the Plan has been reduced, but maximal concentration of resources will be ensured at that time.
The steps taken by the SCO countries in overcoming the world financial crisis consequences obtain the format of joint cooperation.
- What economic, transport, communication, environmental, humanitarian projects today are being carried out within the framework of SCO?
- In SCO 20 specialized organs are functioning, within competence of which questions of economic cooperation fall. Ad hoc working groups (AHWG) are actively functioning, in particular, those on customs cooperation, modern information and telecommunication technologies, development of transit potential. The pilot projects specified under terms of the AHWG are being implemented strenuously enough – for example, the “Organization of electronic transboundary cooperation with the use of electronic digital signature” and the “SCO high-speed information superhighway”.
The Å-40 international transportation corridor and the China-Kirghizia-Uzbekistan road building is being carried out. AHWG on development of transit potential is engaged in coordination of the projects of auto-roads entering the corridors “Andizhan–Osh–Saritas–Irkeshtam–Kashgar”, "Bratstvo–Dushanbe- Djirgital- Karamyk- Irkeshtam–Kashgar” and the transshipment terminal in Kashgar for multimodal carriages organization. Preparations are also being made for new international logistics centers construction along the road Å-40 on the SCO countries territories.
SCO in the partnership with the Asian Development Bank and ESCAP is developing a document on creation of favorable conditions for international motor transportation. Their preparation will facilitate conditions of work for the hauliers for whom it is important that cargo and motor transport handling procedure should be carried out on a consistent basis.
Agricultural cooperation is being established. Experts are coordinating the interaction for the purpose of creation of favorable conditions for agricultural products sales, interchange of the information of regulatory and legal framework to control questions of agricultural products production and sales. The short-range plans include conclusion of a multilateral agreement on agrarian cooperation.
Humanitarian ties are successively developing. Colorful arts festivals, art shows, music and youth festivals are being held on a systematic basis. Also measures are being taken for creation of a network SCO University where personnel for the implementation of concrete projects approved by our Organization will be trained.
Cooperation in the field of public health among other issues is emphasized on prevention and struggle against infectious disease dissemination.
- It is believed that the military constituent of the SCO activity is being intensified. What do You think of this? Is it possible to create a military alliance within the framework of SCO by type of CSTO?
- A mission of effective security cooperation between our countries is set in the SCO constitutional documents. SCO considers international terrorism, separatism and extremism as the main sources of threat to peace, security and stability. Assuring of an adequate level of cooperation between defense, law-enforcement and special agencies – a necessary, it may be said, key element of joint efforts in counteraction to the above threats. The SCO member states Ministers of Defense conferences are annually convened, where a military-political situation in our environment is substantially discussed and cooperation issues are coordinated.
Periodically conducted military contingents exercises have anti-terrorist orientation. The documents relating cooperation with other profile regional organizations, including CSTO, also provide coordination in the spheres of struggle against international terrorism, illicit drug and weapon trafficking, organized transboundary crime. In practice joint measures are transparent. Defense component in the SCO activity will continue to improve, however there are no plans of the SCO transformation into a military-political block by the existing models. Block delimitation would contradict the Shanghai principle of non-confrontment.
- What are prospects for the development of SCO? Will new areas of cooperation appear within the framework of the organization? At what stage are the questions of admission to membership of SCO?
- The organization is persistently and steadily developing. Cooperation spectrum broadening for account of new promising areas confirms it. Thus, the SCO participants are interested in the use of cumulative potential as much as possible for their own development. Public health, agriculture, ecology, regulation of migratory movements, science and technologies can be noted among new spheres of cooperation. Appearance of new areas of cooperation reflects the need for development of the Organization itself and dynamism of multilateral ties of the SCO process participants.
Considering the raising interest in SCO on the part of states and organizations that want to become our partners, issues of further institutionalization of the Organization international activity are of integrated nature. Provision of observer status under SCO and Provision of the SCO dialogue partner status were adopted earlier. Steps toward expansion of the Organization, which is, to my mind, inevitable, should be carefully considered, pursuant to the interests of further strengthening of the base, on which the six states had united into SCO in due time. Now formulation of a document on the mode of admission in SCO is being carried out. Membership criteria are strict enough, because the Organization can be increased only by candidates worthy in all respects.