On 21st July 2020, His Excellency Vladimir Norov, Secretary-General, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Secretariat, Beijing, China gave an exclusive interview toáCGSS.
The interview was focused toádiscuss Shanghai Cooperation Organization asáa viable forum foráenhanced mutual development and trans regional integration.
In a question asked regarding the development ofáSCO sinceáHis Excellency Vladimir Norov took office he mentioned that, sinceáassuming office ináJanuary 2019, he, alongáwith his colleagues, has been taking steps foráthe implementation ofáthe SCO's basic documents and the important agreements concluded byáthe Heads ofáState ofáthe member countries.
He also commented that the Pakistani side ináthe SCO exercises and activities aimed atámaintaining stability ináthe Organization's area ofáresponsibility. It has become global and diversified, asáwell asábecame possible toáestablish close ties witháthe relevant UN structures and witháother international organizations, foráexample, ASEAN and the OSCE and the Paris Pact Initiative. Moreover, he expressed toácontinue and deepen SCO's cooperation witháour Pakistani counterparts. In general, ináthe last year and a half ofáthis year, the work has been directed effectively onáthe development ofápractical areas ofácooperation, especially inátrade, economic, transport & logistics, infrastructure, scientific & technological, innovation and information & communication spheres, including the development ofásmall and medium-sized businesses.
On discussing the role ofáSCO ináuniting the member states onáa single platform toádiscuss current common security challenges, ináparticular, unconventional security threats, His Excellency, Vladimir Norov stated that SCO has demonstrated toáthe world an effective mechanism ofácooperation, ináwhich there is no place foráclosed "exclusive" clubs and dividing lines, and multilateralism and cooperation are seen asáthe only way toáprotect themselves fromáglobal threats and ensure stable development and well-being foráall. It is no coincidence that we use the term "SCO family", which applies not only toámember states butáalso toáour observers and dialogue partners.
When asked aboutáthe strategy toástrike a balance betweenáthe trends ofáglobalization and regionalization inátoday's world foráexpansion, SCO Secretary General highlighted that according toápreliminary estimates, the total GDP ofáthe SCO member countries overáthe pastáyear amounted toá22.5á% ofáthe global figure (18.4 trillion us dollars). This figure is expected toáreach 35-40% ofáthe world's runway byá2030. The SCO acts asáa reliable platform foráfruitful cooperation ináthe interests ofáforming a polycentric world order.
While discussing the new potential areas that should be included ináthe SCO's scope foráfuture work, His Excellency, Vladimir Norov stated that, the SCO strives toágo ináthe same rhythm withánew trends ináthe world. Determining the strategy, prospects, and priorities foráthe development ofámultidisciplinary cooperation is the prerogative ofáthe Council ofáHeads ofáSCO union. Information and communication technologies have great potential not only ináthe economy and trade butáalso ináproviding the population witháaccessible and high-quality health services. Distance learning should also be one ofáthe promising areas ofácooperation withináthe SCO. The online learning format provides a wide range ofáopportunities and perspectives foráchanging and improving educational systems foráwhich a critical situation creates a forced environment.
Highlighting the involvement ofáShanghai Cooperation Organization ináthe One Belt One Road initiative, the Secretary General ofáSCO stressed that the SCO countries cannot stay away fromáthe large-scale economic initiative unfolding ináthe region. The main routes ofáthe Silk Road Economic Belt lead fromáChina througháCentral Asia, Russia toáEurope, asáwell asáfrom China througháCentral and West Asia toáthe Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. Ensuring the long-term sustainable development ofácountries and regions alongáthe Belt and Road objectively necessitates increased transport and communication interconnectivity and interconnected infrastructures, which is particularly important ináovercoming the effects ofáthe COVID-19 pandemic.
Regarding the global challenge ofádealing witháCOVID-19 and role ofáinternational cooperation including SCO, His Excellency Vladimir Norov stated that, the SCO advocates effective engagement witháWHO, other international organizations and associations ináthe fight againstácoronavirus infection. Meetings ofáHealth Ministers and Heads ofáServices responsible foráthe health and epidemiological well-being ofácountries will be held ináthe nearáfuture. The SCO intends toáfully implement the existing mechanisms, actively continue consultations onáthe topic onáthe fight againstácoronavirus, and jointly take decisive measures toámaintain security and stability, asáwell asárestore economic activity.
Discussing the problems occurring ináthe functioning ofáSCO and how can they be addressed byáSCO member states, the Secretary ofáSCO highlighted that the main security challenge foráthe Organization is the continued fight againstáinternational terrorism and extremism, and the illicit trafficking ofádrugs and weapons, ensuring regional peace, and promoting the work ofáthe UN and other sought-after international organizations.
Summarizing the interview, he emphasized that the SCO's international credibility has improved significantly inárecent years, cementing its status asáa leading multilateral structure ináthe region and the world. He thanked Col Khalid Taimur Akram (Retd), Executive Director, Center foráGlobal & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad foráorganizing the interview and mentioned that the SCO Secretariat is always ready toáshare regular news and information witháthe Pakistani mass media onáthe important activities ofáthe SCO.