Founded in 2001, the SCO is covering about three-fifths of the Eurasia land mass and accounting for 14.9 percent of the global economic output. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit held from Sept. 11 to 12 focused on issues of anti-terrorism and regional security and saw the signing of the Dushanbe Declaration. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) groups Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
It also has Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as its observers, and Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka as dialogue partners. This time the summit boasted real broad and high-level representation.
Besides the six heads of full-fledged member-states the list of participants included Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General and head of the Department of Political Affairs, Indian Foreign Minister, Sushma Swaraj, Sartaj Aziz, H.E. Nyan Lynn Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN Political Security Community Department, the Pakistani national security adviser and a key adviser on foreign policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Sergey Lebedev, Tair Mansurov, the Secretary General of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow, the President of Turkmenistan, was a special guest of the host country.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon presided over the summit. The broad representation speaks of deep SCO involvement into the process of Eurasian integration.
The rising tension in the world requires the participants to consider the possibility of taking adequate steps and preventive measures. During the summit, leaders of the SCO member nations signed the Dushanbe Declaration that includes a series of items on the expansion of the organization, a resolution on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and anti-terrorism and extremism acts, among many others.
First, the parties are unanimous in their opinion that the development of unilateral missile defence systems would undermine global security. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which includes four Central Asian states, did not name the United States in a statement issued at a summit in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.
But Russia in particular has long been critical of Washington over its plans to build a global missile defence shield that Moscow sees as a security threat. “The unilateral and unlimited capacity of individual states’ or groups of states’ missile defence systems will be detrimental to international security and strategic stability,” the statement said.
It said the members of the SCO believed “national security should not be achieved at the expense of the security of other states.”
Tackling security issues requires the participation of all parties involved. The use of diplomatic means are to top the options list. The SCO members “should take it as our own responsibility to safeguard regional security and stability, enhance our ability to maintain stability, continue to boost cooperation on law enforcement and security, and improve the existing cooperation mechanisms.”
The Baltic States and Poland want increased NATO military presence on their territories. On August 22, 2014 Minister for Foreign Affairs, Martin Lidegaard (SocLib) and the Minster for Defence, Nicolai Wammen (SocDem) have revealed that one, or possibly a number of the Danish Defence’s frigates, will be fitted with a type of radar that will enable Denmark to become part of NATO’s missile shield. “We have decided to contribute to NATO’s missile defence shield and will take part in preliminary studies with a number of other countries to determine whether one or more of our frigates should be fitted with radar,” said Lidegaard.
Apart from the Red-Green Alliance and the Danish Socialist Peoples’ Party, there was general cross-party support in the Danish parliament for the decision, following a meeting in the Foreign Policy Committee.
According to the government, it will cost between DKK 400 – 500 million just to equip one frigate to be part of the missile shield. “It is a big investment, which is why it will feature in the next defence policy agreement. But it is a good way to defend ourselves from missile attack,” Wammen said.
Both ministers emphasised that the current conflict with Russia did not influence the Danish government’s decision to become part of the missile shield. AccordingtoDer Spiegel(the August 25 edition), Poland and the Baltic States wanted the European missile defense be turned against Russia. The Dushanbe Declaration says the missile shield plans will be countered by the SCO members.
Second, the summit stressed the importance of the efforts aimed at fighting the challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational crime. The members want to entrust the group’s Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS) with a new function to combat drug trafficking at an early date. The practical implementation of this idea would imply close cooperation between the military and security structures.
On August 24-29, the military from Russia, China, and four Central Asian states held an exercise simulating a military response to an outbreak of inter-ethnic tensions in any of the countries. The six-day “Peace Mission 2014” live-firing drill in China rehearsed joint antiterrorism operations. The training event included 7,000 soldiers from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
The chiefs of general staff from the SCO member countries monitored the final stage of the exercises. As NATO leaves Afghanistan the terrorist threat will spread to affect the neighboring and adjacent countries. The President of Tajikistan said that non-state actors like terrorist groups acquire up-to-date weapons normally being in the inventory of states’ regular armed forces. It changes the nature of problems and affects the ways employed to counter the threats.
The Islamic State is an example. Its expansionist plans pose a threat to all SCO members and the states with observer or “dialogue partner” (Turkey) status.
Russiais to chair the Organization in 2015. It plans to introduce a SCO long-term development strategy till 2025, as well as granting full-fledged member-state status to India and Pakistan.
While the main emphasis was on security concerns, the SCO summit also encouraged further economic cooperation among its members. The SCO has functioning joint structures like the Business Council, the Interbank Consortium. It holds regular meeting of heads of ministries and departments. Russian President Putin said he supports development of the SCO program for trade and economic cooperation.
“I would like to say, the global economy has not yet overcome the crisis, and the current political risks, various limitations and barriers, affect the situation,” he told a meeting of leaders of the SCO member-states.
As he put it, “I propose that we reflect on updating the SCO Trade and Economic Cooperation Program of 2003 and the Implementation Plan, which was reviewed in 2008. Many cooperation mechanisms in this area have already been established, including the SCO Business Council and Interbank Association, and the meetings of heads of relevant agencies. We also support stronger international ties at the regional level, in particular in line with the results of the recent round table on regional cooperation between SCO member states. We see great potential in the idea of developing a common SCO transport system that would make use too of Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway and Baikal-Amur Mainline and be tied into China’s plans for developing the Silk Road route. I am sure that big projects of this kind serve the interests of our organization’s members and would benefit all countries in Eurasia. Practical work in this area will get a good boost from the agreement signed today on establishing good conditions for international road transport. This agreement will help us to develop a network of road transport routes, including the Europe-Western China transport corridor, which links the ports on the Yellow Sea coast to the ports in Russia’s Leningrad Region. The next step is to approve the program for coordinating SCO member states’ road development. Russia submitted a draft of this program to our partners in April this year”.
The President said the countries should improve cooperation on security in food, transport, energy and finances on the SCO space. “We have already organized many mechanisms for cooperation of the kind,” he noted. He also supported the improvement of inter-regional relations.
According to him, “Quite promising, in our opinion, is the idea to form an SCO common transport system, including the transport potential of TransSib (Trans-Siberian Railway) and BAM (Baikal-Amur Railway) and, connected with China’s plans to develop the Silk Route.”
A good impetus to practical work in this direction will come from the agreement the countries signed on organization of favorable conditions for international car transportation. The countries will form a network of road routes, including a transport corridor between Europe and Western China.
The visible progress in the creation of the SCO development bank and admission of new members in the organization testifies to the further rapprochement of China and Russia within SCO. The sides previously had no unity on these problems. The creation of the development bank meets primarily the interests of Central Asian states, as it will provide financing for economic projects in their territories.
However, economic development and well-being in Central Asia will ultimately ensure regional stability, in which all members are equally interested. There is an important aspect to lure other states into the membership. There is no whatsoever dictatorship on the part of the SCO founders and leaders: Russia and China. The integration with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is viewed as a means of protection form the encroachments on national security practiced by the West.
The today’s world is undergoing complex and profound changes. It is still far from tranquility. The SCO is entering a critical period of inheriting the past and ushering in the future. It is our common responsibility and mission to ensure that the SCO always develops along the established track and brings more security and greater well-being to its member states and their peoples.
The SCO summit emphasized that the transformations are on the way to make the planet a multipolar world. The importance of multipolarity is stressed by the Declaration. The document puts emphasize on the peoples’ rights to choose their own ways of development, non-interference into internal affairs and the refusal to use the threat of force are a basis for stable progress in international relations.
The Ukraine’s crisis makes have a fresh look at the problem of information security. The information war has been unleashed and is in full swing now. The countries pledged to intensify the joined efforts aimed at creation of peaceful, secure, open and cooperative information space based on respect of state sovereignty and non-interference into other states’ internal affairs.
The member-states are to prevent the use of communications to undermine their security and stability and the ways of life they choose. The SCO members call for the world free of wars and conflicts, comprehensive cooperation and mutually advantageous cooperation respecting the sovereign rights of all states.
Will the United States and other NATO members hear this call? Time will tell.
Elena PONOMAREVA | SCF