|SCO Forum: preparing for the next summit|
On April 17-18, 2019, Beijing hosted the 14th meeting of the SCO Forum, which brought together over 50 experts, including heads of National Research Centers of SCO member states.
The discussions were lively; the participants were straightforward, constructive and sometimes critical, speaking about the key issues of the organizationís existence, its development plans, new joint projects, the situation in the SCO region, and steps needed to further stabilize it.
The international situation remains complicated, with instability sustaining, and new regional hot spots and new threats to security, such as terrorism and extremism, emerging, they said during the debates. Yet despite these new difficulties, the SCO has a substantial potential for timely responding to such problems and resolving them.
The Forumís participants spoke in favor of furthering political coordination, more active support to regional peace and stability, and implementation of the SCO Cooperation Program for countering terrorism, separatism and extremism.
The experts proposed to enhance cooperation in the area of security, improve work of law-enforcement structures, and intensify joint efforts against illegal drug trafficking. They took note of Tajikistanís proposal to set up an SCO Anti-Drug Center in Dushanbe.
Since there had been new cases of unilateral economic actions and measures of trade protectionism, the participants stressed the need to reinforce multilateral economic and trade cooperation, and promote trade liberalization. They also voiced support for various multilateral integration projects of the SCO.
They agreed to expand cooperation on hydropower projects designed to meet the needs of the entire region, and to further humanitarian exchange and contacts in the areas of culture, education, tourism and mass media.
Participants of the event expressed serious concern about the current situation in Afghanistan, the threat of terrorism, illegal drug trafficking and organized trans-border crime in the region. They spoke of their support to the SCO-Afghanistan contact group and the need to promote a political settlement in Afghanistan, bearing in mind that peace and stability in that country were essential for ensuring the entire regionís security and stable economic development.
Vladimir Norov, SCO Secretary General, said at the Forum that the Organization was consistently expanding multilateral cooperation in the areas of politics, security, economics, and cultural and humanitarian exchange, and the recent accession of India and Pakistan and the desire of many other states to join the Organization testified to its growing authority in the world.
As part of preparation for the next SCO summit in Bishkek, the results of the discussion were used to structure and summarize specific proposals on deepening and developing multilateral cooperation within the Organization.