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Vladimir Norov: SCOs role in creating a new system of international relations will be growing
22.04.2019 12:45

SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov met withthe members ofthe SCO Press Club fora news conference atthe SCO Secretariat.
He answered the questions of the InfoSHOS portal and other news media from the SCO member states, observers and dialog partners.

This years main event is the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting in Bishkek. What are your expectations from the summit? Can you say that the Kyrgyz presidency has brought any new focus areas or initiatives?

Regarding the upcoming SCO Heads ofState Council Meeting inBishkek,I would liketo say that each summit opens a new page inthe history ofthe Organization's development and sets new tasks.

During the Bishkek summit, the heads ofstate will sum upthe results ofKyrgyzstan's presidency and consider priorities aswe seek tofurther deepen the political dialogue, strengthen regional security, and enhance trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation. In addition, the leaders will discuss current international and regional issues. The summit will be preceded bymeetings ofsecretaries ofnational security councils, ministers ofdefence, ministers ofculture, ministers offoreign affairs and numerous expert meetings. Also planned are the Media Forum, Women's Forum, Business Forum and the SCO Marathon.

What is the SCOs current role in global governance? What can you say about its importance on the global stage?

I can say that the accession ofIndia and Pakistan has given the SCO a transcontinental character, and made it the largest organization not only inthe region butalso inthe world interms ofaggregate potential total population, territory, natural resources, and GDP. Based onthis, many experts note that the SCO should become one ofthe main pillars ofthe future world order.

In this regard, I can say that the SCO demonstrates an example ofclose fruitful cooperation aimed atbuilding a more equitable and balanced world order based onequal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security, ensuring the interests ofeach and every state inaccordance withthe norms and principles ofinternational law.

In addition tothe various aspects ofgeopolitical, geoeconomic and civilisational factors, the active involvement oftwo ofthe world's largest powers China and Russia, permanent members ofthe UN Security Council, that pursue a global agenda intheir foreign policy objectively brings the SCO tothe forefront ofinternational politics.
The SCO agenda has been expanding duringthe most recent stage ofthe Organization's development. The heads ofstate regularly discuss problems not only atthe regional butalso atthe global level; SCO documents increasingly address topics such ascountering global challenges and threats that require the development ofcollective and effective approaches bythe international community.

In response tothe question and the opinion that the more representative the SCO becomes, the more it encounters opponents and challenges fromother international organizations, I would liketo say that one ofthe fundamental principles ofthe SCO is that its activities are not directed againstany state or international organization. The SCO is not a military-political bloc, and it is ready tocooperate withother states and international associations ona broad agenda.

The fight againstterrorism has become a key aspect ofthe SCO's multilateral cooperation. What has been accomplished, and what are your plans forthe future?

One ofthe most important missions underthe SCO Charter is the joint effort tocounter terrorism, separatism and extremism inall its forms. For almost 20 years, the organisation has made a substantial contribution tomaintaining security and development ina vast region that is an undisputed fact.

Over these years, all members have jointly managed tocreate a solid contractual and legal framework and effective mechanisms ofsecurity cooperation. During the Qingdao summit, SCO member states approved a cooperation program forcombating terrorism, separatism and extremism in2019-2021. This reflects the commitment ofall ofthe Organization's states tocountering major security threats inEurasia. All countries signed the document, underscoring our collective interests: All ofthem want tolive inpeace and stability. The SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) conducts practical work and achieves significant results inits efforts tocombat terrorism, separatism and extremism, inparticular detecting, preventing and thwarting manifestations ofthese three forces ofevil inSCO member states, eliminating their causes and the conditions underlying their emergence and spread, aswell ascountering the dissemination oftheir ideology and propaganda.

I can cite statistics that will be more convincing. In 2013-2017, over600 terrorist crimes were thwarted duringthe planning phase, over500 terrorist training camps were liquidated, and the activity ofover 2,000 members ofinternational terrorist organisations was disrupted. The authorities confiscated over1,000 improvised explosive devices, 50 tons ofexplosives, 10,000 small firearms and overone million rounds ofammunition.

To hone practical skills, the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies ofSCO member states conduct joint Peace Mission counter-terrorist exercises.

RATS has also established cooperation withlaw-enforcement agencies ofSCO observer states and dialog partners, specialized international and regional organizations.

Regarding upcoming tasks, the member states consider it necessary todirect efforts towardsmore quickly establishing a united global anti-terrorist front, withthe UN inthe central coordinating role, that would act inline withinternational law, withoutpoliticization and double standards.

In its activities, the SCO prioritizes information security; and the organisation's development strategy to2025, passed in2015, devotes significant attention toit. For example, the document notes the need tostrengthen cooperation inthe area ofinternet monitoring and todisrupt efforts touse the internet toundermine regional security and stability. The SCO has accomplished a lot in this area overthe years. To lay outthe facts, in2017 alone, RATS restricted access toover 80,000 online resources containing 500,000 materials aspart ofits efforts toprevent terrorist and extremist activity onthe internet. Its operatives disrupted the activity of360 members ofterrorist and religious-extremist online communities, and over100 criminal cases were opened againstwebsite administrators and moderators.

The SCO and its member states continue tomake a substantial contribution toglobal efforts tofight illegal drug trafficking. Participants inthe Qingdao summit passed the anti-narcotics strategy ofSCO member states for2018-2023, an action programme toimplement this strategy, aswell asthe SCO concept toprevent the abuse ofnarcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. These documents serve askey tools forcoordinating the efforts ofSCO member states.

Over the 18 years ofits existence, the SCO has achieved quite good progress ineconomic and humanitarian cooperation, buteven that cannot be compared tothe impressive results that have been achieved throughsynergy inthe field ofsecurity. As the new SCO Secretary-General, what are your thoughts onthis? Will you focus onthe economic track inthe SCO's work, so that it doesn't lag behind? And if so, what are you planning todo?

Without doubt, all the SCO member states are interested inthe harmonious development ofthe Organization. The SCO landscape today includes a vast consumer market, an abundance ofnatural resources, aswell asadvanced production facilities, withgreat promise forimplementing major cross-border projects and new ideas due toits stability, dynamic development and constantly emerging new opportunities.
At the SCO Summit inQingdao, the leaders ofthe member states expressed unanimous support forcreating favorable conditions fortrade and investment inorder togradually achieve the free movement ofgoods, capital, services and technology. In this connection, the Joint Statement ofthe Heads ofSCO Member States onTrade Facilitation was adopted. The package ofQingdao Summit documents also included solutions tostimulate micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, customs cooperation, development ofthe tourism industry, and cooperation inthe food sector.

Work is currently underway todevelop a new version ofthe comprehensive program ofmultilateral trade and economic cooperation. Its key goals relate tofurther intensifying the process ofcreating favourable conditions intrade, investment, infrastructure, transport, agriculture, media and communications.

A new vector will be promoting interaction betweenthe regions ofthe SCO member states. In the nearfuture, a programme tosupport interregional cooperation betweenSCO member states will be developed, and a Forum ofHeads ofRegions ofthe SCO member states will be established.

Is the SCO currently reviewing any specific economic cooperation projects?

The SCO's main economic task is tocreate favorable conditions fortrade and economic cooperation. To this end, we are working todraft plans and programs inclose collaboration withthe SCO's Business Council and Interbank Consortium.

The agreement betweenSCO member states onthe facilitation ofinternational road transport is the most important transport document being implemented inthe SCO region. In effect, the document has created a uniform foundation forfacilitating international road traffic. Its main routes form the common regional system ofcommodity and passenger traffic using motor vehicles. According toexperts ofthe UN Economic and Social Commission forAsia and the Pacific, the agreement opens upover 15,000 kilometres ofhigh-speed roads forunimpeded vehicle and freight traffic. On the whole, the agreement's routes provide landlocked countries withnew opportunities inthe area oftrade and economic cooperation and transport infrastructure cooperation, and promote greater regional interconnectivity.

How do you see the further expansion ofSCO influence inthe world? Can new formats ofcooperation withother countries emerge, given that the lists forgaining observer or dialogue partner status are already long?

The SCO's role increating a new system ofinternational relations will only grow because SCO member states account fora significant share ofworld population, territory, and natural and economic resources.

The fundamental principles ofSCO activities are clear and transparent, embodying asthey do the "Shanghai spirit" based onmutual trust, equality, mutual benefit, equal rights, mutual consultation, respect forcultural diversity, and a commitment tojoint development.

All ofthis contributes tothe SCO's appeal inthe region and the world, witha growing number ofcountries wishing tojoin the Organization or enhance their status init. The SCO is also expanding its cooperative ties withother international organisations.

Currently, the member states are considering numerous applications filed bystates seeking tojoin the cooperation withinthe SCO withdifferent statuses, fromdialog partner topermanent member.

At the same time, expanding the SCO Family is not an end initself. Our main goal is toensure dynamic development based onrespect forthe interests ofall stakeholders, withoutdisrupting internal harmony. But we maintain dialog withstates aspiring toa status or a higher status inthe Organization. All applications foraccession should be considered ina thorough, even-handed and consistent manner.

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