The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Secretary-General Bolat Nurgaliev gave a New Year exclusive interview to the Editor-in-Chief of InfoSCO Tatiana Sinitsyna.
- 2008 comes to an end; it made the world undergo a trial of financial and economic crisis. SCO is faced with this mournful fact too. On the other hand, any crisis, as it becomes, also causes a quite creative thing such as “art of the way out” requiring a new approach to the existing problems, unconventional solution of the “charade” in question. What instruments is SCO going to use in the situation of the global financial and economic crisis? Does the Organization have any individual approaches, original solutions, special combinations of measures?
B.Nurgaliev: - Under the conditions of crisis phenomena in the world economy SCO intends to demonstrate both creative approach to actual political and economic problems solving, and consistency and persistence in fulfillment of the tasks specified by the Organization as long-term priorities. It is possible to effectively ensure peace, security and stability in the SCO space, jointly stand up to challenges and dangers, if progressive economic development and steady growth in prosperity of our six nations are ensured.
Currently, as the saying goes, our plans are made-up, and the SCO efforts are directed to group decisions implementing, taken at the Heads of States Council meeting in Dushanbe and the Heads of Governments Council meeting in Astana in August and October a.c., respectively.
According to the SCO leaders’ general assessment, at present, conduct of responsible monetary and fiscal policy, capital movements control, ensuring food and energy security come into importance. It is necessary to augment coordinating efforts of Ministries and Agencies responsible for conduct of economic and financial policy. An important role is already designated to be played by well-established non-governmental instruments – the SCO Business Council and Interbank Association.
Saying about “combination of measures” for global economic recovery, note that our Organization stands for broad international cooperation in solving problems of resources provision to meet mankind’s needs without detriment to the environment, in achieving goals of global development, including technology gap crossing between countries and eradication of poverty on basis of ensuring equal access to advantages of globalization for all of the states. In principle there is probably no novelty in these approaches. It is necessary to come down from generalities to particulars. In any case it is clear that after surmounting the present crisis the world will be different.
- In spite of sad atmosphere caused by the crisis, it is impossible to cancel out the positive things that SCO has done in the departing year 2008. What new steps can SCO, the world’s biggest system of regional cooperation, speak about? It would be also interesting to know new level creative proposals for enhancement of any of the Organization’s activities.
B.Nurgaliev: - We are optimistic about the future. In spite of objective difficulties, most of our states maintain positive dynamics of economic growth and strong social policy.
SCO is successively developing as a multilateral organization. Dialogue development between the member states on ensuring energy security, closer cooperation in the agricultural field to ensure food security and stimulation of agricultural production can be rated among new upcoming trends.
Good prospects are connected with cooperation development in science and technology, in particular, in assimilation of new power technologies (in the context of struggle against global climate changes as well), introduction of environmentally sound power engineering and technologies, use of renewable energies and innovation techniques to modernize industrial, agricultural, transport, and energy infrastructure on the SCO member states territory.
- SCO has been developed with its home policy not being static. In the Charter a struggle against terroristic threat was enunciated. When consistent collective measures on this direction yielded, things were deemphasized.
Major priorities have become economic cooperation on basis of equal codevelopment, as well as rapprochement through humanitarian field and active cultural exchange. But terror continues to approve itself in the world, particularly, in India’s Mumbai. India is an observer country of SCO, after all. How is the Organization going to meet this challenge, are there planned new counter-terrorism steps?
B.Nurgaliev: - Thank you for appreciating effectiveness of our diverse activity. The SCO member states make joint efforts, including closer cooperation with other interested countries, international regional organizations to establish a wide partnership network for opposition to terroristic threat. First of all it concerns observer countries of SCO. Ways of their practical involvement in counter-terrorism struggle under the aegis of SCO are being discussed now.
We have decidedly condemned terrorist acts in India’s largest city of Mumbai followed by numerous human losses. The SCO’s statement underlined that organizers and executives of this inhuman attack must be punished according to the law. Thus solidarity with Republic of India, an observer country in SCO, was confirmed. As circumstances of the terrorist attack clear up, extremist forces’ plans become obvious. They tried to frustrate process of India-Pakistan relations normalization.
It is significant that a number of the Western MSM publications about Lashkar-e-Taiba underground group that had masterminded the act of terror in Mumbai, declared its complicity in gunmen training for operation in Chechnya. Threat of international terrorism is of transboundary nature, so this reality must be reflected by means of appropriate counter-terrorism measures. Without question that the SCO member states cooperation in struggle against terrorism, separatism and extremism will be consolidated. It is planned to further extend possibilities of the Regional counter-terrorism structure that has already proved to be effective mechanism of special services coordination and established systematic exchange of corresponding information on the basis of common data bank.
While planning special services and defense agencies counter-terrorism exercises, new elements of regional developments and international terrorist organizations’ tactics are certainly taken into account. Special care will be given to relevant authorities’ personnel joint training, in order to ensure high level of their operational cooperation. Positive experience accumulated while safeguarding the Olympic games in Beijing, will be in demand when preparing and conducting forthcoming big international events, including the APEC summit in Vladivostok, the 2010 World’s fair in Shanghai and the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
- Analysts and experts call SCO “the most successful international project of the last decade.” Yet they point out “not unclouded prospects” and existing disagreements. For example, Uzbekistan preferred not to participate in establishing Association of Youth Organizations; it also keeps away from the activity connected with the SCO University model development. Does the principle of accommodation of interests and agreement of opinion remain prevalent in the organization activity?
B.Nurgaliev: - The SCO bodies’ decisions, as is known, are taken by consensus. They are considered accepted if not a member state in the process of endorsing raised an objection. Consideration of each state’s opinion is a fundamental principle of true democracy in our Organization. Matters of principle, strategic questions discussed at various SCO forums invariably reflect coincidence or similarity of partners’ positions, united by the common purposes and uniform understanding of nature of problems we have to deal with.
That is why the Shanghai Spirit principles, harmony in relations and patience are of so much importance in case of inevitable disputable moments. There are not any insuperable disagreements here. We have always managed to find out a reasonable balance of interests and approaches. With regard to questions you have raised about Uzbekistan’s position I can specify that they do not object in principle. The Uzbek partners endorse ideas of cooperation establishment between our countries’ youth, humanitarian ties development, including education sphere. It is another matter that versions of entering into cooperation are different. It is normal, however, and to my opinion, further process of political, economic and humanitarian SCO space formation will only gain from pluralism and innovative ideas.
- SCO is a community of nations, arousing interest all over the world, attracting attention of political establishment, various experts, analysts etc. Many, especially in the West, are concerned about the fact that SCO may develop into a powerful military alliance. And this is despite peaceful, non-militaristic nature of the Organization, its emphasis on multilateral equal cooperation, humanitarian and cultural enrichment that are constantly stressed. What can you tell those who are wary of SCO, its ill-wisher and opponents?
B.Nurgaliev: - As for ill-wishers and SCO’s opponents I can say the Organization has given no rise to such an attitude.
Unbiased experts and journalists should not be allergic to genuine understanding of the SCO military constituent.
Not a programming document, to begin with the SCO Charter, contains formulated military or defensive purposes and tasks. SCO considers terrorism, separatism, extremism and drug offense as the main source of menace to the world peace, security and stability. You must admit that to see anything ominous in this approach would be alogical.
The annual Defense Ministers meeting agenda items relate to joint opposition to international terrorism. SCO has no military command and planning structure. Counter-terrorist orientation is clearly seen in the military training exercises scenario with the participation of military contingents within the framework of SCO. Military attaches from various countries not specified by political blocs are invited to attend large-scale exercises.
Documentation on relationship with other core international organizations specifies cooperation in struggle against terrorism, illegal drug and weapon dispensing, opposition to organized transnational crime. In practice measures taken jointly are transparent, because we have nothing to conceal.
- The SCO structure is developing and it is known that it will have a “youth wing.” A model of the SCO University is now being created. How do you estimate integration process dynamics in SCO in whole? What can you tell about the course of the SCO University project? What other new elements of its "building” does SCO intend to construct in the nearest time?
B.Nurgaliev: - One of the priority cooperation areas designated in the SCO Charter includes cooperation expansion in science and technology, education, public health, culture, sports and tourism. These spheres are promising for youth’s energy and knowledge application. The younger generation education in the spirit of rectitude, inculcation of tolerance and respect for other nations’ cultures are guarantee of further strengthening of friendship and neighborliness between our countries.
Establishment of the SCO international University would be a step towards formation of a common educational SCO space, as well as a practical contribution of the member states to the process of professional training systems enrichment with experience and innovations.
In terms of concepts the University is planned to be a network of the universities already existing in the SCO countries. Skill formation within the SCO University must be carried out in the priority cooperation areas (regional studies, environmental science, energetics, nano- and information technologies). An idea to promote additional opportunities for youth to enable them to receive a modern education of high quality and, after all, preconditions for effective political, trade and economic, scientific and technical cooperation.
To date there is practically no experience in such universities formation. The SCO member states experts have to follow unbeaten tracks, arriving at solutions of problems such as mutual admission of documents confirming education, harmonization of educational standards etc. The problem is set so that in 2010-2011 the SCO University may begin function and in several years there may be graduating students having got degrees in special subjects both of their base institute and SCO University.
- SCO was founded as a regional organization with an Asian vector. However in the today’s world it is difficult to shut oneself off by geographical boundaries, to live in isolation. In the West the voices have already come addressing to the European Community and NATO. They urge these structures to “make advances and join SCO.” It is also known that a lot of states want to become the SCO member, and others want to obtain a status of an “observer country” or become a "dialogue country” in the SCO structure, to cooperate within the scope of consultations. What principles is the SCO model development prospects based on?
B.Nurgaliev: - Difficult questions of our international activity further expansion should be solved taking into account increasing attention to SCO on the part of world community and the Organization membership applications from a number of countries. This process must be well-ordered and systematic. For this purpose an appropriate legal framework is being developed; in particular, a document of membership criteria. An observer and a dialogue partner status provisions were adopted earlier and have been already working. So we do not mark time, we take yet every step advisedly, first of all pursuant to the Organization further consolidation.
SCO has a status of a UN observer. We successively develop relations with regional and non-regional organizations; we have signed memorandums of cooperation with some of them, for example, with CIS, EurAsEC, ASEAN, CSTO, OEC, and ESCAP. We consult on questions of mutual concern with OSCE, EU and other. Range of cooperation with them is very wide: security issues, struggle against terrorism and drug trafficking, trade, migration, transport, and environmental protection.
- There are hazy ideas of single currency establishment in the SCO space. Now when dollar has lost confidence and absolute authority, there is much emphasis on its replacement necessity in the world. Still more frequent yet are suggestions to refuse the single currency domination and create a multipolar financial payment system, stable and suitable for all. Does an idea of “the SCO single currency” become topical in this situation? And what could be to your opinion hypothetic features of such a currency?
B.Nurgaliev: - A single currency can be introduced at the stage of integration completion. For example, in the EU that was only possible after forty years of the date of the organization founding, even then not for all of the member states. Actually, in today’s conditions of global financial crisis the SCO member states are discussing ideas of national currencies use for international payments. But it rather concerns bilateral relations, and not the Organization in whole.
- SCO is a unique sub-regional organization, based on a noble idea of just cooperation, mutual assistance and protection. It follows an unbeaten pioneer track, sometimes not without inaccurate moves. What is required to make the SCO course optimal?
B.Nurgaliev: - Any international organization development is above all connected with how adequately processes taken place within its framework meet diverse interests of all of the participants. There will be no progress without constant adaptation to new realities and consolidation of approaches. SCO is developing simultaneously in three dimensions - political, economic and humanitarian. And it is crucially important to ensure their well-balanced cooperation so that processes dynamics of each dimension may reflect basic interests of each member state. As well as a fundamental mission agreed in the SCO Charter of joint development for progress and prosperity of our nations.
- The SCO Secretary-General’s working day is surely intense. Nevertheless, I would ask you hopefully: do you manage to keep up with our "InfoSCO" portal? If so, how would you estimate our journalists’ team work?
B.Nurgaliev: - The most important thing of my working day is to appropriately fulfill my responsibilities that of course include careful review of mass media materials about the Organization activity.
The InfoSCO portal is an authoritative channel of dissemination of information about our Organization, including that of bilateral and multilateral cooperation development between the member states, SCO influence to the situation in the region. It is of importance that the portal is continuously developing. It is no doubt that today InfoSCO has become a reliable tool for everybody who wants to get objective information about our Organization activity and prospects.
I would like to make use of this New Year’s Eve interview and to wish good health, happiness, prosperity and every success for 2009 to all users of the Web site and the InfoSCO officials.
- We thank You and wish You and all of the SCO Secretariat officials prosperity, good things in life and achieving Your dreams for a New Year.