“East is East, and West is West, and They will not Leave Their Places.” But People Can Go and Meet Each Other …
06.05.2009 14:32
Tatiana Sinitsyna, the Editor-in-Chief of InfoSCO – from Yekaterinburg

A young force has joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: a foundation conference of the SCO Youth Council has completed its program on May 5 in Yekaterinburg. This new structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is the Russian idea’s brainchild. Appearance of a “youth component” is one of the main events of the period of Russia’s chairmanship of SCO; it forestalls Summit of the Heads of the SCO member states, scheduled for the middle of this June.

"What necessity was to create a youth organization of SCO?” I asked the Head of the Chinese delegation Tung Hsia, Deputy Secretary-General of the All-China Youth Federation. She answered: “SCO is in progress and, in the course of development, is searching for new forms of self-expression. Strong young blood will give it renewed impetus, enrich with ideas, and the young voice will become a good tuning fork that will help to maintain the right tone in that coordinated “sextet” SCO represents.”

Blowing snow that came down to Yekaterinburg on May day could not prevent airliners from the capital cities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states – Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, China, Russia and Tajikistan - from arriving to Koltsovo airport. Envoys of these countries youth were on board – members of national coordinating boards gathered for the foundation conference of the SCO Youth Council in the largest center of the Urals.

As one of the Kirghiz delegation members joked, “winter like a woman seems to have forgotten something in Yekaterinburg, and now – bethought, returned.” But some of the local students welcoming the guests gave his version: “Winter has simply sent us its special regards”.

Where there’s youth, there are jokes, wittiness, laughter and gushing energy. The whole life is before them, and young people choose their way in it. Those who arrived in Yekaterinburg are determined to do endeavours in the sphere of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization activity. To my questions “What does attract you here?” I got answers, yet worded differently, but containing the same tenor: “Equal opportunities, equal rights, collective leadership, consensus, as well as a chance to try hand at this interesting, very promising area.”

Only one flight did not arrive in the Yekaterinburg beautiful airport – that from Tashkent. Uzbekistan still refrains from taking part in the youth area of the SCO activity. Well then, the Charter of this international organization admits the option of variable-speed inclusion of the member states in one initiative or another.

However most of the heads of state welcomed the SCO youth vector already in the initial state. This instrument has very naturally agreed with the SCO tasks, the point of which is to establish equal, harmonious mutual relations with the countries of the region, mutually advantageous cooperation, active cultural exchange. The organization’s future outline and successors were seen on the SCO ground in the young people that with the alternation of generation will be able to take their place on the political arena and particularly in SCO. And is it bad, if they have known each other since a young age?

To enrich SCO with a youth component is an idea expressed by Vladimir Putin at the summit in Shanghai in 2006. But this innovation must have been so called-for by the reality, that a similar process absolutely independently started below too: the same proposal was submitted within the walls of the Youth Public Chamber of Russia consolidating the leading youthful movements of the country. The work has begun.

They were suggested to work out a conception of the SCO youth organization (to see first, what they are capable to). They were daringly inventing, with the creative excitement, giving their own interpretation of things, their own vision of place and destination of this structure in the SCO system. The creative urge had effect: the conception was judged on its merits in the Beijing headquarters of SCO. The creative authors group was invited for a serious talk to the meeting of plenipotentiaries of the Heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"We worked on documents hard, putting much energy into this new cause, all the existing knowledge, we discussed, argued, formed our organization image in common, and now here is culmination, transforming a dream into reality: on May 4, in Yekaterinburg, we have signed a legal document on creation of the SCO Youth Council. I am happy,” said Head of the Kirghiz delegation Aidarbek Zhorobekov. “The Kirhgiz party already has concrete proposals approved by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Kurmanbek Bakiev. We want to establish yearly meetings of the SCO youth at Issyk Kul, there are excellent possibilities for this there.”

Young SCO members are ready to exchange of all the best to the full extent. The Chinese delegation suggested coming to the Celestial Empire to get acquainted with positive experience of employment assistance to young people, aid program for the first-time entrepreneurs. There were also image-bearing appeals: “Let us join our fingers – not to clench a threatening fist, but to lend a helping hand each other,” said at the signing ceremony Head of the Tajik delegation Shahnoz Benazir, Vice-Chairman of the Committee for Youth Affairs, Sports and Tourism under Tajikistan’s government. The graduating student of Teheran University, judge of the Persian poetry, cited the great Saadi’s wise words: “There are no roads on the earth; they are made by the people who walk."

The theme was taken up by Head of the Kazakh delegation Nurlan Sadykov who reminded another eastern wisdom: “Slow and steady wins the race”. "Today we have made the first move, so let us move toward our goal!” he called on his peers. “Our main task is to learn each other, bridge the gap, establish confidence, and win the sympathy of each other – through humanitarian dialogue, cooperation in the field of culture and education, through personal friendly contacts. We have no obstacles on this way.”

The foundation conference that ended by the ceremony of signing documents on creation of the SCO Youth Council was held in the splendid residence of the Governor of Sverdlovskaya oblast Eduard Rossel who attended this official action. Head of the oblast congratulated the youth, told about its significance in the society, about local youth’s initiatives.

Eyewitnesses of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Youth Council’s birth became over hundred of the forum participants, as well as representatives of the Embassies of China, India and Iran in Moscow, Consulates of Kirghizia and Tajikistan in Yekaterinburg. The young SCO members were greeted by the Russian Presidential Envoy to the Ural Federal District Nikolai Vinnichenko, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the State Duma Konstantin Kosachev, Deputy Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy Oleg Rozhnov. Congratulatory telegrams from Heads of the Federation Council and the State Duma - Sergey Mironov and Boris Gryzlov - were read out.

Since it is Russia that is currently chairing SCO, then, accordingly, it is the “Russian part” coordinator that will chair the newborn SCO Youth Council - Denis Kravchenko. Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, Vice-Chairman of the Committee of the Presidium of United Russia’s Supreme Council for Youth Policy, he was elected as leader of the Youth Public Chamber.

Speaking at the ceremony of signing documents of SCO’s new structure, Denis Kravchenko emphasized that “this organization has appeared and been acting as response to a number of essentially new threats and challenges, the world community faces. They are international terrorism, international crime and drug menace, the world financial and economic crisis, the need for construction of collective and energy security systems etc. These problems go beyond the conventional paradigm of block oppositions and narrow national interests, affecting the world community in whole.”

Denis Kravchenko believes that “creation of the SCO youth component naturally follows, on the one hand, from the current requirements, on the other hand – from the “Shanghai Spirit”, i.e. from understanding the community of goals and tasks, as well as providing the SCO member states with a wide range of choice for collaboration.” According to the first chairman of the SCO Youth Council, this organization represent a special structure that will enable the youth to conduct an effective exchange of opinions on a wide range of vital international and national questions, as well as to learn the experience and opinions of leading specialists among senior citizens. Denis Kravchenko expressed his hope that the Council work will make a major contribution to the establishment of personal ties between future and current political elites of the SCO member states. “I believe that the SCO Youth Council completely meets the needs of the age and hope that such a brilliant initiative will be adequately developed.”

The participants of the youth association forum convened in Yekaterinburg were welcomed by the Uralians with all their heart. They proudly showed their peers from the SCO countries round their unique, transformed city that during preparations for the SCO summit had sewed a modern “full dress" we could appreciate to the full only after the futile May snow had melted away: everything is spick-and-span in the capital city of summit, everything is shining. Historic buildings are restored and functionally adapted, the overwhelming majority of houses’ facades are renovated, immense tall houses rose skyward such as the Onegin hotel where the SCO member states youth delegations stayed (the brand is clear and precise: the famous Pushkin's hero was an aristocrat and liked conveniences after all – so it became the hotel “style”).

All the participants of the foundation conference waited with interest for the moving finale of the Yekaterinburg festival – a trip to the pilgrim place where a border runs between Europe and Asia. Formerly 1.5 billion years ago these two mainlands were freely migrating in the ocean under the influence of the earth’s powerful internal forces. But once they collided, having raised with their force the Ural mountains ridge, and connected forever, turned into Eurasia.

“East is East, and West is West, and they will not leave their places...” Rudyard Kipling’s famous words are true. People can go and meet each other though – Asians and Europeans, as they did in the SCO space.

Standing on the sacral Europe-Asia line, Chinese Tung Hsia said: “I know that this magic place favors the accomplishment of desires. I ask for peace on our continent, peace of the world! Let Europe and Asia go towards progress and wellbeing equally in the Shanghai spirit of equal rights and cooperation.”

And everybody began to sing. And slim pines of the never-ceasing Uralian forest were rocking with their tops, shaking off stray snowflakes from the crowns...