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Speech by SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov at the event "New Arc of Cooperation in Rising Rimland: from Vladivostok to Chennai"
22.01.2020 17:08

1. There are quite a few international organizations in Eurasia now. SCO is not the oldest, but very representative, you are head of the largest regional organization in terms of population.

How do you see the role of SCO in the development of broad processes of international cooperation in the vast Eurasian space, including its continental and maritime dimensions?

Answer:

Dear Mr. Bordachev,

I am delighted to participate in the session of the Valdai Club, which has established itself as an important international forum whose opinions are carefully heard by many policy-makers in the world.

It is significant that our session is being held on Indian soil as part of the international conference "Raisina Dialogue", an important platform for exchange of views among leading policy-makers.

The SCO is home to almost half of the world's population and covers 60% territory of Eurasia, and therefore it is the key Eurasian platform for international cooperation.

The SCO, given its geographical expanse from the Baltics to the Pacific, plays an active and inspiring role in world affairs.

These indicators clearly demonstrate the enormous potential of the SCO, the implementation of which has become the main issue on its agenda.

We believe it is proper for us to talk about the transcontinental nature of our Organization and its significant contribution to regional and international security.

Today, the Organization is made up of eight countries — India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan;

four Observer States — Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia;

and the "six" Dialogue Partners — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

In addition, about ten countries have applied for observer/dialogue partner status — Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Israel, Maldives, Ukraine, Iraq, Viet Nam, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE.

In other words, almost thirty Eurasian countries are already in SCO orbit.

It is essential that the SCO, given its geographical expanse from the Baltics to the Pacific, play an active and inspiring role in world affairs.

We understand that the growth of the SCO "family" increases its legitimacy, but the expansion of the Organization should not be thoughtless, but aimed at strengthening it, increasing its internal capacities and international prestige.

At the same time, we are open to broad international cooperation in the vast Eurasian space, including with European Union.

Our activities and plans have continental and maritime dimensions in political, economic and humanitarian aspects.

The comprehensive concept of "Shanghai spirit" has already become a stable political term that has enriched the theory and practice of contemporary interstate interaction.

The consensus model of decision-making within SCO on the basis of equal dialogue, mutual respect and consideration of interests of all Member States gives our Organization an appeal and greater vitality.

The main principles on which the Organization is based are openness, non-direction against other states and international organizations and the non-bloc nature.

The Organization's potential for resilience lies in the fact that there is no domination, element of pressure or coercion.

The distinctive feature of our Organization is the universal and multifaceted nature of cooperation, which covers the areas of politics, security, economy and humanitarian ties.

Given the continuing threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and cross-border organized crime, the first stage of SCO's development was objectively aimed at ensuring security and stability.

On the whole, SCO has many achievements in the security sphere.

The Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure in Tashkent is working with good results.

Joint anti-terrorist exercises — "Peace Mission" are regularly conducted.

Given the SCO's leading role in this area, we have established close partnerships with the relevant United Nations bodies — the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UN Office of Counter Terrorism, as well as with partners from the CIS and CSTO.

In order to counter the link between terrorism and illicit drug trafficking over the past five years, joint efforts of the Organization's member states have resulted in the seizure of some 40 per cent of narcotics throughout Eurasia.

We are working towards a political settlement of the situation in Afghanistan, including by helping with economic recovery of that country.

The work of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which meets regularly at the level of deputy foreign ministers, is oriented towards achieving these goals.

Concrete steps are defined in the relevant Road Map.

Member —states of the SCO consider the territory of Afghanistan not only as a source of threats, but also as a space of opportunities.

The SCO's activities are aimed at building a democratic and fair architecture of international relations, based on the principles and standards of international law, primarily mutual respect, justice, equality, mutually beneficial cooperation, and a common vision of creating a community with a shared future for humankind.

We support the efforts of the UN as a universal multilateral organization and the UN Security Council in maintaining international peace and security under the UN Charter, stimulating global development, as well as creating conditions for the prosperity of our countries and nations.

As António Guterres UN Secretary-General said in one of his recent statement — "The SCO plays a leading role in regional diplomacy. It contributes to the development of multilateral cooperation to sort out the most urgent issues of peace and security in Eurasia."

The SCO advocates improving architecture of global economic governance and developing trade, economic and investment cooperation.
We believe it is important to further deepen cooperation for jointly and consistently strengthening an open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory multilateral trade system based on the rules of the World Trade Organization, as well as preventing any unilateral protectionist measures in international trade.

2. Mr. Norov, it seems that India is seeking to expand interaction between the continental and maritime arc of international relations in Greater Eurasia.
The axis of cooperation between Chennai and Vladivostok is seen as uniting the efforts of Russia and India in shaping such relations.

India recently became an SCO member state.

How would you rate the SCO's experience as such a representative association?

With India's accession to the SCO as a full member, there are created absolutely new opportunities for further development and deepening of full-scale cooperation between member — states.

India's entry into the SCO gave the Organization a new quality and dynamics and increased its capacity to confront contemporary challenges and threats.

The role of the SCO as an important mechanism for shaping regional and global policy, ensuring security and sustainable development has been strengthened.

We appreciate the efforts of the Indian side to further deepen mutually beneficial cooperation within the SCO.

At recent SCO summits in Qingdao and Bishkek, in which India participated as a full member, Prime Minister Modi made a number of important proposals aimed at further deepening cooperation in the fields of regional security, strengthening economic cooperation in the sphere of agriculture, medicine, IT, space, finance, development of alternative energy sources and environmental protection.

I would like to note India's active participation in SCO security mechanisms, including in the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

We attach great importance to the active participation of the Indian side in antiterrorist exercises.

This year India first time is presiding over the SCO's second most important body — the Council of Heads of Government, whose next meeting will be held in India in autumn.

This body is the main mechanism responsible for the development of trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation between the SCO member states.

The meeting of prime ministers will be preceded by meetings of ministers of commerce, justice, council of national coordinators, financial experts, as well as the first meeting of the Consortium of Think Tanks on economic issues which will also be held in the Republic of India.

The Member States highly appreciated the activities carried out by the Indian side in the field of disaster management, including the ministerial meeting, rescue operations and special exercises held in India in 2019.

New prospects for trade and economic cooperation open up with the formation of "International North — South" Transport Corridor, by initiative India and Russia, with a length of more than 7 thousand kilometres, as well as with India's accession to the Ashgabat agreement on the formation of a new international transport and transit route.

These projects through the infrastructure of railways and roads, seaports for transit and transportation of goods will create conditions for sustainable economic development of the participating countries.

This giant transport corridor will connect St. Petersburg with the Indian port of Mumbai.

In the context of increasing the transit potential of the SCO countries within the framework of China's Belt and Road initiative, the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway project may become one of the promising additional routes connecting East Asia with the Middle East, Turkey and Europe, as well as an important link in the transport network within the framework of the East-West and North-South projects.

The transport and infrastructure projects currently being implemented within the framework of the SCO are largely aimed at solving the fundamental task of providing favorable opportunities for land-locked countries of Central Asia to have access to the seaports, including Indian ones and their products to the world market.

In this way, we create new blood arteries that will give vitality to the Eurasian region.

With great interest we follow the approaches of India and ASEAN States to the Indo-Pacific, pay attention to their creative, inclusive and non-confrontational nature, multidisciplinary cooperation, connectivity and sustainable development, respect for international law, and openness to all who want to work on the basis of these principles.

It seems to us that the axis of cooperation between Chennai and Vladivostok fits perfectly into the development plans of the Russian Far East.

In future India will also be able to effectively take advantage of the Northern Sea Route and facilitate access for its companies to resources of the Russian Arctic region.

Such goal-setting is in line with the key principles of the proposed concept of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, in which important platforms for cooperation such as the SCO and ASEAN can take their rightful place and, thanks to established partnerships, interact productively in the fields of politics, security and economy.

It is only through our joint efforts we will be able to unite the vast Eurasian continent's vast maritime and land space,as well as the surrounding continents and regions around Eurasia.

We see a far-reaching meaning in deepening interaction between the think tanks of the SCO "family" states, the European Union and ASEAN.

In the current volatile global situation, experts and scientists must fully perform their predictive duty.


3. Mr. Secretary General, what do you see as SCO's specific priorities with such diversity of participants?

Today the Organization has become a real example of coexistence of diverse states with different cultural and ethnic traditions, as well as the productive establishment and development of inter-civilization dialogue.

Symbolically speaking, our political, economic and humanitarian practice is the contours of geostrategic development in Eurasia.

In fact, this is a long-term construction of the Eurasian space, starting from its core, which is represented by Central Asia, and centrifugally to its outer perimeter.

The main thing in SCO's approach is to ensure security and political stability throughout the Eurasian space, based on which economic and social dynamics should be accelerated.

Today, in the world, pockets of armed conflict remain as global terrorist breeding grounds.

Terrorist organizations are trying to take control of drug trafficking, using it not only as a source of income, but also to traffic foreign terrorist fighters.

The global nature of today's challenges and threats takes a special dimension due to rapid development of the information and communication technologies.

In the Internet space and through the so-called "darknet", extremist materials are being disseminated, young people are being recruited into the ranks of terrorists, and illegal online trafficking in weapons and drugs.

The Member States emphasise the need to continue work on building within the SCO of a system for monitoring possible threats in the global information space and countering them.

The SCO region is home to more than 800 million young people aged 15 to 24 who are most exposed to risks and threats in the information space.

Therefore, it is important for the SCO to work towards the formation of a "healthy digital culture" in the SCO region, directing high potential of young people to the right direction, developing intellectual skills, abilities, as well as youth entrepreneurship in the field of digital and electronic innovations.

E-commerce is growing in the member states of the SCO at an active pace. China,India and Russia are leading the SCO in this area.

Currently, 35 % of China's trade is carried out through e-Commerce. 55% of those employed in e-Commerce are women. In other words, e-Commerce helps create new jobs, especially for women and young people.

In recent years, Alibaba Group has created more than 40 million jobs and the company plans to create 100 million new jobs by 2036.

At same time according to the World Economic Forum, companies around the world lost about $1.5 trillion in 2018 from illegal activities of cybercriminals, and in 2019 that figure almost reached $2.5 trillion.

That is why our Organization focuses its attention on cooperation in ensuring information security and fighting cybercrime.

To counter that threat, it is important to expand the regulatory framework aimed at combating cybercrime and guaranteeing confidentiality and rights of consumers on the Internet.

Given India's great potential in IT technology, we believe that the Indian side can play a leading role in this area in the SCO region.

Today, the SCO has become an effective mechanism for multilateral cooperation in trade and economic sphere.

Its territory is characterized by a huge consumer market, highly qualified human resources, rich mineral and energy reserves, as well as advanced production facilities and technologies.

The total GDP of the SCO member states in 2018 amounted to 22 per cent of the world GDP.

It is expected that in 2030 this indicator may reach 35-40 per cent of the world GDP.

According to the Standard Chartered Bank, by 2030 the volume of the top 10 world economies will amount to 190 trillion U.S. dollars, 60% of which will come from China, India and Russia.

The total foreign trade turnover of the SCO member states with foreign countries exceeded $6.3 trillion and it is growing. For example, only China plans to increase imports of goods over the next 15 years from 2 to 30 trillion USD.

Thus, the SCO has real opportunities to become one of the world economic centers in the near future.

At the last meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in Tashkent in November 2019, a new Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Organization's Countries until 2035 was adopted.

Under the new Programme, in the long term — until 2035 — the SCO Member States aim to increase global competitiveness and ensure the digital transformation of the national economies of the SCO countries through the introduction of digital technologies and the creation of favourable conditions for the gradual free movement of goods, capital, services and technologies, as envisaged in the SCO Charter.

The practical implementation of this strategy, rather than virtual design, is carried out both through strengthening multilateral relations among member states and through the formation of partnerships with international and regional organizations — the UN, EAEC, ASEAN, CIS, as well as through interaction with such an international association as BRICS.

Source: http://eng.sectsco.org/