SCO: co-operation, co-development and co-prosperity

The Republic of Tajikistan is one of the founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Emerging from the former Shanghai Five grouping, the SCO was established in June 2001 following agreements between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to define a common platform on issues aimed at improving regional security. Its member states cover more than three-fifths of Eurasia with a quarter of the world’s population. Today the SCO serves as a common platform for these countries in their commitment to build coherent frameworks for joint action while coping with pressing issues that affect their shared interests, countering new challenges and threats, maintaining peace, security and stability, and creating favourable conditions for sustainable socio-economic development. Its members are determined to play to their undisputable advantages of being long-term neighbours and traditional friends. The approach of the state-members of the SCO to security and cooperation was based from the outset on mutual trust and equality, despite the vast differences in the political and economic clout of the member states. China and Russia, being two permanent members of the UN Security Council, share unique responsibilities for maintaining global peace and security. Their role in enhancing the SCO’s authority and effectiveness is very positive. The significance of Central Asia in the context of energy, food, and transportation, security, both regional and global, will continue to increase and bring about relevant changes in those countries’ negotiating capacities.
The SCO member states are united by a mutual understanding of the nature of shared threats and risks, and a common philosophy of seeking out approaches to even the most difficult problems all the while respecting each others’ interests. Among their top priorities are: safeguarding good-neighbourly relations; searching for conciliatory solutions; and proliferating the belief that differences, disputes, and contradictions should be resolved on the constructive foundation of dialogue and consultation, restraint and concession. These priorities are not only enshrined in the mission statement, they are practiced in the day-to-day affairs of the SCO. All of the member states have equal rights and an equal role in the decision-making process. That is why the ‘Shanghai Spirit’ principles, of harmony in relations and patience are of so much importance in case of inevitable disputable moments. There are not any insuperable disagreements here. Within the Organisation we do not divide states into different categories because of the volume of their GDPs or the richness of their natural resources. Although our countries differ in sizes of territory, population, economy, and resources, we are united by a common desire to pool our advantages in order to neutralise our weaknesses. So, the main challenge is to create a common political, economic, and informational space and to instil in the peoples of the six nations a sense of having a shared destiny. Of course, it will take time and intense effort.
The SCO member states by successfully promoting their economic growth, and social and cultural development, in spite of the current global financial crisis, are showing a good example for other regions to follow. The state-members of the SCO underlined the fact that the tendency towards true multi-polarity is irreversible and pointed to the growing significance of the regional aspect in settling global problems. It should be noted that, the foremost role of the SCO is to serve as a common platform for coordinating efforts in countering trans-border challenges and threats with the aim of strengthening security and stability in the Eurasian space. It is capable of achieving this task by promoting multifaceted, long-term cooperation based on a prevailing principle: together we are more effective, and united we are stronger — by combining our resources we can ensure a better, safer life for our citizens. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation deems it important to further cement the legal bases of international relations determined by generally accepted principles and norms of international law and international obligations of states. What remains as an urgent task is the strengthening of the central and coordinating role of the UN in world affairs, enhancing the effectiveness of its mechanisms with the aim of adequately responding to modern challenges, such as a changing political and economic reality. The reform of the UN Security Council must gain a wider consensus from members of the international community.
The security agenda is a top SCO priority and it is concerned that the scale and acuteness of threats of terrorism, separatism, and extremism are not diminishing. The main coordinating bodies for security cooperation are the Secretariat of the SCO in Beijing and the Regional Counterterrorist Structure based in Tashkent. The SCO has obligations to share information about terrorists and terrorist organisations so that competent services will be able to trace them on the territory of any member state. This proved to be an effective mechanism resulting in the achievement of specific goals. Cooperation in this field will be intensifying. All six members of the SCO are determined to prevent terrorists and extremists of different kinds from destabilising the situation in the region. Security and stability can not be strengthened without a competent national economy. Within the SCO we have a solid legal foundation and organisational structure for developing economic cooperation. We adopted the programme of multilateral trade and economic cooperation aimed at moving towards the free flow of capital, goods, services and technology within the next 20 years. Economic priorities include the implementation of a number of pilot projects of a regional dimension in energy, transportation, and information technology. Our aim is to modernise the energy and transportation infrastructure of member states — a major prerequisite for eventual regional integration. Within the SCO states-members always stress that terrorism has nothing to do with specific faiths. The fight against international terrorism should not spill over into hostility against any particular religion and definitely not transform into ‘Islamophobia’.
Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran and Mongolia are observer states. By an initiative of Tajikistan on April 26, 2014, the first Meeting of National Coordinators of SCO Member States with authorised representatives of SCO Observer States was held in Beijing at the Secretariat of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Parvez Davlatzade, the National Coordinator of the Republic of Tajikistan, i.e. the current SCO chair-state, made a report on behalf of the SCO. During the Meeting SCO intentions to activate interaction with Observer States were expressed. An exchange of views took place on positive ways of enhancement of cooperation in different areas. Efforts on the Tajik side have been a precious contribution to the development of the Organisation since its beginnings, and will continue to focus on further strengthening of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the member states of the Organisation, enhancing the authority of the SCO in regional and world affairs. On July 30-31, 2014 the meeting of the Council of the Ministers of the Foreign Affairs of the SCO will take place in Dushanbe and on September 11-12, 2014 is the Summit of the Council of the Head of States of the SCO where the heads of the observer states also invited. The Republic of Tajikistan supports the membership of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the SCO, which will open new opportunities for trade, energy, investment, transportation, banking, and tourism. Tajikistan strongly believes that Pakistan’s active cooperation with all the members of SCO for implementation of its objectives will further ensure progress and prosperity in the region. Pakistan serves as a bridge for linking Central Asia with South Asia and beyond and geographical contiguity of the members with Pakistan and shared cultural and historical bonds give depth to these relations.

The writer is ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan in Pakistan

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