The main task of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should be to prevent a geopolitical rift between East and West, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev told an online summit of the leaders of SCO countries. One of the results of the meeting was the transfer of the SCO presidency from India to the Republic of Kazakhstan. Tokayev is confident that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can deliver his vision of sustainable peace to the world community, so as part of his presidency, Kazakhstan will launch the initiative “On Global Unity for Just Peace and Agreement”. , which will establish the principles of strengthening confidence-building measures between countries, maintaining stability and security.
45% of the world’s population, 15% of the planet’s land mass, a quarter of the world’s GDP
The SCO is a regional block created in 2001 in Shanghai, the founders were five states: Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The declaration on the creation of the SCO stated that the participating countries intend to collectively fight terrorism, separatism and extremism. Over time, the Shanghai Five has become an influential, multi-profile organization whose priorities are political, economic and humanitarian cooperation. In recent years, emphasis has been placed on the development of the regional economy, the creation of favorable conditions for trade, the improvement of logistics chains, as well as food and energy security.
Today, the SCO unites 8 member states, including India and Pakistan, 4 observer states, including Belarus, Iran and Mongolia, as well as 13 dialogue partners: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey. , Sri Lanka, Maldives, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Myanmar. Partner status allows you to participate in all relevant events within the SCO. In the near future, this status will be granted to Bahrain, 3 more similar applications and 6 applications for observer status are being considered. The previous SCO summit took place last year in Samarkand.
Right now, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization states occupy 15% of the land area, account for a quarter of world GDP and more than 15% of world trade. One of the results of the current meeting will be the large-scale connection of Iran with the organization.
As Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev emphasized, the SCO has become a unique Eurasian organization with significant political influence, significant economic opportunities, and colossal human resources. The bloc’s countries can make a significant contribution to achieving the sustainable development goals and overcoming modern challenges.
“In the context of a radical transformation of the global world order, we are witnessing an unprecedented rise in geopolitical tensions, the intensification of trade and sanctions wars, and many other modern challenges. It is becoming commonplace to undermine the foundations of international law and its important principle: equitable, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security. In this sense, we must remain committed to building a more representative, democratic and multipolar world with the central and coordinating role of the UN”, emphasized the president of Kazakhstan.
Speaking at the summit, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev presented the priorities of strategic importance for all SCO member states.
The first priority is to ensure security and stability in the alliance space. The focus of the Kazakhstan presidency will be the fight against the “three forces of evil”: transnational organized crime, drug trafficking and cybercrime, Tokayev promised. He considers it necessary to update the cooperation program to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2025-2027. Along with this, Kazakhstan proposes to adopt a SCO anti-drug strategy for the same period.
The President of Kazakhstan is sure that the crisis in Afghanistan deserves special attention and proposes to create a UN regional center for the sustainable development of Central Asia and Afghanistan in Almaty.
The second priority is the expansion of trade and economic ties. Tokayev noted with obvious dissatisfaction that for more than 20 years of the SCO’s existence, the alliance has not been able to implement a single major economic project under its auspices. The reason is the lack of mechanisms for financial support of project activities. The way out of the situation for the President of Kazakhstan is the creation of a common investment fund on the basis of the Astana International Financial Center, which has absorbed the best experience of world financial institutions.
“In our opinion, the SCO’s economic agenda should focus on tasks such as creating favorable conditions for increasing mutual trade, removing existing trade barriers and launching joint ventures,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said.
The President of Kazakhstan also proposes to improve the transport infrastructure of the SCO, for this it is necessary to create a partner network of large strategic ports and logistics centers. “Our joint participation in the implementation of the One Belt, One Road mega-project and the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route creates all the prerequisites for unlocking the great potential of the North-South and East-West corridors,” said the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In the modern era, strengthening energy cooperation is of particular importance. The president of Kazakhstan proposed to his bloc colleagues for the next summit, to be held in Astana, to agree on the SCO energy strategy, which will be in line with the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. “Given the exceptional importance of this issue, we are ready to hold the SCO Energy Forum in Kazakhstan,” Tokayev said. “A detailed discussion of the prospects for cooperation in this industry will allow us to develop consolidated approaches to ensure energy security and balanced development of our countries.”
crossroads of civilizations
Another of the priorities in the speech of the President of Kazakhstan was cooperation in the digital field. In the modern world, the problem of the “digital divide” between different countries and social groups is still relevant. This gap must be closed. Tokayev reminded his colleagues that Kazakhstan ranked 28th in the UN e-government ranking last year, and this is the highest number among SCO member states. All the necessary conditions for a radical digital transformation have been created in the republic, IT solutions are being effectively implemented in the public administration system, developed banking ecosystems have appeared, and e-commerce is gaining momentum. Therefore, Kazakhstan is ready to become a digital hub in the SCO space. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed to hold a Digital Forum of the countries of the bloc in Astana, combining it with the first meeting of the commission of the group of technoparks and innovation clusters.
No less important is cooperation in the field of ecology. The President of Kazakhstan pointed out that it is impossible to achieve sustainable economic growth and improve the well-being of society without advancing the environmental agenda. Tokayev points to the dramatic increase in natural disasters in the modern world and therefore considers it necessary to establish partnerships between the SCO and the United Nations Environment Program. It is necessary to develop a cooperation agreement in the field of ecology, adopt a program for the development of natural protected areas and ecological tourism. “I propose to promote all these events under the auspices of the SCO Year of Ecology, which is enshrined in the Declaration that we are adopting today,” suggested Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The development of cultural and humanitarian ties, particularly tourism, is also relevant. Tokayev recalled that the SCO space covers 45% of the world’s population and is a huge tourism market, the potential of which has not yet been realized. Kazakhstan is taking comprehensive steps in this direction; for example, a visa-free regime was introduced last year for citizens of India, Iran and China.
For the term of Kazakhstan’s SCO chairmanship, the president proposed to declare the city of Almaty the tourist and cultural capital of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
“The limitless expanses of the SCO are the cradle of Eurasian civilization, and the unique ‘Shanghai spirit’, symbolizing the unity of cultures, is its invaluable asset,” Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said. – Since time immemorial, the Kazakh land has been a place of intersection of civilizations, interpenetration of traditions and cultures. And today Kazakhstan is ready to fully contribute to the preservation and promotion of the rich common spiritual heritage.”
The President suggested launching the SCO Spiritual Sanctuaries project. In Kazakhstan, such a shrine is the mausoleum of the religious philosopher Khoja Ahmed Yassawi in Turkestan. The presentation of this majestic monument of medieval architecture will take place at the SCO conference “The Golden Horde and its heritage”.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that Kazakhstan has developed a new strategy for the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which will be presented to the bloc’s partners during Kazakhstan’s presidency. The strategy is designed to expand the SCO agenda in the most promising areas.
“We must have our own vision of the future of a just and harmonious world, confidently follow the path of inclusive development and creative progress based on mutual responsibility and solidarity. As we assume the baton of the presidency, we will continue with all states, regardless of their status in the organization, an active and fruitful work for the benefit of further strengthening security, peace and prosperity in the SCO space,” he concluded. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
It should be noted that Kazakhstan’s trade turnover with SCO countries last year exceeded $60 billion. At the initiative of Kazakhstan, the SCO countries adopted a food security program and a road map for mutual agreements in national currencies. Kazakh specialists are developing the energy strategy of the SCO until 2030. In general, about 80 working events are planned for the term of the Kazakhstan presidency in the SCO.
Daria Osinina, Vice Dean for International Cooperation at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Mass Communications of the Financial University of the Government of the Russian Federation, points out that Kazakhstan is today a key regional power in Central Asia.
“We are witnessing a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world. The question is: who will support the institutional scheme of a multipolar world order? Does the SCO have a chance? Of course I have. The first factor is geographic boundaries. Today, the key logistics corridors “North-South” and “East-West” pass through the territory of the SCO countries. In addition, the SCO countries (China, Russia, Iran and India) are promoting the formation of a new financial and economic model that contemplates de-dollarization. The SCO has every opportunity to become one of the key organizations in the formation of a new global world order, it is only necessary to join forces and develop a coordinated position,” the Russian analyst believes.