|SCO Secretary-General's press conference on the results of the SCO Summit|
On 16 November 2020, the SCO Secretariat hosted a press conference by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov on the results of the 20th SCO Heads of State Council Meeting, which was held online on 10 November 2020.
The Secretary-General provided detailed information on the SCO activities during Russia's Presidency in the Organisation in 2019-2020. He also spoke about the results of the recent SCO summit and the documents adopted.
The event was attended by permanent representatives of the SCO member states to the SCO Secretariat, experts from research centres of the SCO countries, and journalists from Xinhua, Renminwang, TASS, China Radio International, Global Times, Khabar, Kabar, Dunyo, Centreline, DNA News, Islamabad Post, and Press Trust of India, as well as the TV channels CCTV and CGTN.
Below is the text of the SCO Secretary-General's speech
Dear mass media representatives, experts and analysts!
Ladies and gentlemen!
Let me welcome everyone and thank you for your attention to the topic of today's briefing, which is dedicated to the results of the SCO Summit which took place on 10 November this year.
One of the distinguishing features of the meeting was that it was held in the format of a videoconference in the context of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The heads of eight SCO member and observer states took part in the meeting.
A special video message was delivered by the UN Secretary-General.
It should be noted that the 20th SCO Summit was held in the year of celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Second World War and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, which added a certain positive energy to the work of the SCO, and contributed to strengthening multilateral cooperation.
It should be noted that despite the difficulties encountered, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SCO has adapted quite quickly to the new reality.
Opening the meeting of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the pandemic had not led to any decrease in activities in the key areas of SCO activity.
Important events were held on the foreign policy and military lines.
Two meetings of the SCO Foreign Ministers were held.
In addition, a joint meeting of the SCO defence ministers was organised in Moscow in September this year, in which the heads of defence ministries of the CSTO and CIS countries took part for the first time.
Russian President considers this initiative useful and expects that such extended meetings of natural partners will become regular.
It seems that this will enable a qualitative improvement of coordination at the level of security agencies and monitoring of the defence and security situation in the wider Eurasian space.
During the Russian presidency, the practice of joint exercises involving military and special units of the SCO member and observer states was also continued.
In connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the activities of existing cooperation mechanisms in the sphere of health care and sanitary-epidemiological well-being were intensified, in particular, a number of meetings, forums and consultations were held on the fight against COVID-19.
With regard to the economic agenda, the Russian presidency proceeded from the fact that all SCO countries are interested in further development of business cooperation, increasing mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, industrial production, digital economy, innovations and high technologies, in ensuring food, transport and energy security.
According to Vladimir Putin, the situation in the area of global and regional security remains difficult.
International terrorism and drug trafficking continue to pose a serious threat.
There has been a noticeable increase in the scale of cybercrime.
The system of strategic stability continues to deteriorate.
In this connection, one of the key areas of SCO's current work is to promote peaceful, political and diplomatic crisis resolution, and to curb threats emanating from "hot spots".
The situation in Afghanistan remains of particular concern.
In this context, the Russian side outlined the activities of the SCO Afghanistan Contact Group.
On the whole, based on the priorities of the Russian presidency in the SCO, over 60 events have been held over the past period, such as Meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Secretaries of Security Councils, Chief Justices, Prosecutors General, Ministers of Defence, Justice, Health, Economy, Transport, Culture, Agriculture, as well as the heads of competent authorities of the SCO member states with powers to combat illicit drug trafficking.
In addition, meetings of the Council of the SCO Interbank Association, the Board of the SCO Business Council, the SCO Regional Heads of State Forum, SCO Forum, SCO Youth Council, the SCO University Coordination Council and the SCO Consortium of Economic Think Tanks were held.
Meetings between heads of tourism administrations and heads of services responsible for ensuring sanitary and epidemiological well-being were also held.
Some of these events were held online.
Nevertheless, joint efforts were made to implement previously planned plans and maintain the quality of interaction.
The leaders of the member states at the last Summit praised the Russian Federation's presidency of the SCO, which contributed to giving new dynamics and quality to the development of our Organisation.
All Summit participants noted the solidarity and mutual support shown within the SCO during the acute period of the pandemic.
First of all, the demand for the SCO as an effective platform for developing collective measures to overcome the epidemiological, political and socio-economic consequences of the pandemic on the basis of the principles of the "Shanghai spirit" has been significantly strengthened.
As international relations continue to undergo a profound transformation, the SCO remains firmly established as one of the most important pillars of the world order, and its role as a multilateral cooperation mechanism is increasing, it makes a significant contribution to maintaining peace and stability and ensuring the development of its member states.
As you know, the Summit was held openly, and everyone was able to watch the event online.
I think that each of you have studied the speeches of all the leaders in detail, so I will not retell all the speeches in detail.
In general, the leaders considered the status and priorities for the development of SCO activities in the light of the dominating processes in world politics and economics.
The main outcome document of the summit was the "Moscow Declaration" which reflects specific views on the further development of the SCO, as well as consolidated positions on current regional and international issues.
The document notes that the SCO is an influential and responsible participant in the modern system of international relations, which will continue to increase its contribution to peace and security, settlement of international and regional conflicts exclusively by political and diplomatic means, based on the principles of equality, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of states, renunciation of the use or threat of use of force.
At the same time, the Member States reaffirm their strong support for the efforts of the UN as a universal multilateral organisation that plays a central and coordinating role in maintaining international peace and security, stimulating global development and promoting and protecting human rights.
Moreover, the Declaration particularly emphasises that the Member States will continue to strengthen the SCO as one of the pillars of a more representative and just world order, based on the rule of international law, first and foremost, the UN Charter, respect for civilised diversity and peoples' independent choice of their political and socio-economic development path, equal partnership of states for the sake of ensuring equal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security, and progressive development.
With regard to the current situation in the world, the Declaration notes that international relations are going through a phase of profound transformation, strengthening of new political and economic centres of influence, and formation of a multipolar world order.
This process is unfolding against the backdrop of increasing challenges and threats to international security and the existing system of interstate relations.
The politicization of world economic relations and the lack of significant progress in reforming existing international financial institutions, as well as the global political and socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, pose serious risks to the sustainable development of the world economy.
The President of Kazakhstan Kasym-Jomart Tokayev in his speech noted that "the coronavirus has become a tough test for the world community, clearly showed all the shortcomings of international cooperation.
The pandemic has exacerbated the crisis of trust between global powers.
Existing mechanisms for preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution have caused serious setbacks.
Security threats, including terrorism, arms race, all kinds of hybrid wars and climate change, are increasing.
In geo-economics, two polar trends — globalism and nationalism — are clashing.
In these conditions, said the President of Kazakhstan, we must find an effective solution to the most pressing question: how do we adapt the SCO to complex realities for the sake of our citizens' deep interests?
In the opinion of the leader of Kazakhstan, the "Shanghai spirit", as well as a solid experience of joint search for consolidated responses to the challenges of our time, will eventually allow us to solve this large-scale task.
In his speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized that "the pandemic not only accelerates the transformation of international architecture, but also draws the world into a period of turmoil and change."
The world community is undergoing a serious test — he stressed, the confrontation between multilateralism and unilateralism, openness and closeness, cooperation and confrontation.
At the same time, the President of the People's Republic of China reminded that the world is the common home of mankind, where the interests of all countries are deeply intertwined and where destinies are closely interdependent.
Moreover Xi Jinping noted, "the desire of all peoples for a beautiful life has become stronger and stronger, and peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit have become an irrepressible trend of the era.
Today the SCO is an example of a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, equality, justice, cooperation and mutual benefit.
It has become an important constructive factor both on the Eurasian continent and in international affairs."
Our organization, said the President of the People's Republic of China, must increase its role in international and regional affairs, work to build a planet where there is sustainable peace, security for all, shared prosperity, openness, inclusiveness and a clean environment.
At the same time he emphasized that in the current conditions the SCO should develop the "Shanghai spirit", deepen cohesion and cooperation, make new contributions to security and development in the countries of the region.
It is important to deepen solidarity and mutual trust, to settle differences through dialogue and consultations in order to strengthen the political basis of the Organization's development.
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted in his speech that "today SCO is at a fundamentally new stage in its development.
The pandemic, which has led to a sharp decline in trade and economic relations, a decline in production, the growth of unemployment, has an extremely negative impact on the dynamics of our development.
At the same time, the military and political situation in certain regions of the world is worsening, and contradictions on an inter-ethnic and inter-religious basis are growing.
These global challenges and threats can only be overcome by preserving and multiplying our traditions of good neighbourliness, equality, trust and consideration for each other."
Today, said Shavkat Mirziev, it is more important than ever to strengthen the "Shanghai spirit" — this unique experience of multilateral cooperation, which is our common heritage and expresses our desire for joint development and respect for diversity of cultures.
SCO is strong only when each of us is strong, the President of Uzbekistan said.
Mutual support and joint search for compromises on key issues on our agenda are important for this.
It is this approach that is now becoming the main condition for ensuring security and sustainable development in Eurasia," he said.
All the leaders of SCO countries in their speeches voiced concrete proposals for further cooperation within the SCO.
In particular, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, said that "India firmly believes in peace, security and prosperity and we have always been opposed to terrorism, illegal arms, drug smuggling and money laundering.
India remains firm in its commitment to work in accordance with the SCO principles as set out in the SCO Charter," he said.
At the same time, India's Prime Minister stressed that this is an important year for India in the SCO, as on November 30 this year the Council of SCO Heads of Government will meet under the chairmanship of India.
An extensive agenda is being prepared for this meeting, which will focus on economic cooperation.
It is India's firm belief, Prime Minister Modi stressed, that coupled with economic multilateralism and national capacity building, the SCO countries will be able to overcome the crisis of economic losses caused by the pandemic.
Mr Modi made the following specific suggestions:
The President of Kazakhstan, Kasym-Jomart Tokayev, made the following proposals:
Chinese President Xi Jinping made the following proposals:
— Increased international cooperation on joint prevention and control, support for each other's work, joint protection of regional and global health security.
In this connection, the Chinese leader noted the importance of enhancing the role of the SCO Traditional Medicine Forum, intensifying exchange of experience and mutual enrichment.
Acting President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov made the following specific proposals:
• Efficient use of the full potential of the SCO to overcome the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.
• Establishment of the SCO Development Bank and the SCO Development Fund to provide financing for economic projects.
• Promotion of creative initiatives "Community of One Human Fate", "One Belt, One Way" and "Great Eurasian Partnership".
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan noted that global harmony and multilateralism are being undermined by growing geopolitical tensions, unilateralism and isolationism. At a time when the world is deprived of global vision and common solutions, the SCO called for effective multilateralism with the UN playing a central coordinating role.
We believe, said the Prime Minister of Pakistan, that the fraternity of the SCO with its basic principles of solidarity and mutual support will be effective in combating the consequences of COVID-19.
At the same time, he voiced the following proposals:
• Creation of an SCO knowledge bank of best practices in the fight against COVID-19 to cope with the second wave.
In addition, he made the following proposals:
At the end of the Summit, the chairmanship was taken over by the Tajik side.
In this regard, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, outlined his vision for the main directions of joint work in the coming period.
Tajikistan intends to work on the basis of the principle of continuity to further develop the SCO and make full use of its potential.
Against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, the SCO countries face new social and economic challenges and in this context it is crucial to increase trade and economic cooperation in the SCO region, the President of Tajikistan said.
The leader of Tajikistan sees another priority of the SCO presidency as further strengthening of internal consolidation of the SCO using all available opportunities and resources for mutual support.
As regards priorities in the sphere of economic cooperation, Tajikistan intends to focus on the following aspects:
• Strengthening mutually beneficial economic ties.
The Action Plan of the Chairmanship also provides for a meeting of the Ministers of Agriculture of the Member States in Tajikistan with the participation of the agencies responsible for food security.
In addition, it is important to develop a legal framework for the unimpeded transport of socially important essential goods, in particular, food and medicines.
In the context of humanitarian cooperation, Tajikistan, as Chairman, will welcome all proposals to expand cooperation in education and science, culture, sports, tourism and work with young people.
According to President Emomali Rahmon, the development of co-operation in the area of environmental protection, including climate change issues, is of particular importance in the current circumstances.
In this regard, the Tajik side looks forward to further support for initiatives on the global water agenda, including the proposal to establish an International Glacier Protection Fund.
As part of its chairmanship, Dushanbe intends to promote cooperation through defence agencies and border services.
In this context, an important task remains to promote cooperation in strengthening the capacity of states to protect their external borders in the Central Asian region.
With regard to the Afghan theme, it was noted that it is important to find ways to support and implement projects aimed at the socio-economic recovery of Afghanistan.
During its presidency, the Tajik side intends to facilitate in every possible way the active work of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, including the implementation of the relevant road map.
During its presidency, Tajikistan intends to make the necessary efforts to strengthen the SCO international positions.
The practice of holding joint high-level events between the SCO and the UN will be continued.
By the way, in his video message to the SCO Summit the UN Secretary General Antanio Gutteres noted that SCO is a leading player in the regional diplomacy of Eurasia.
The intensified SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group is an important forum for advancing regional efforts in support of peace in Afghanistan at a crucial period when opportunities for peace are being tested and civilian lives are in constant danger, António Guterres stressed.
As the situation develops and new threats emerge, we look forward to using the SCO regional experience to strengthen our joint assistance to the member states, he said.
The UN Secretary General expressed confidence that by using complementary approaches and strategies, including preventive diplomacy, we will be able to overcome challenges and contribute to ensuring lasting peace and stability in the SCO region.
I think that based on this mood of the UN, within the framework of the presidency of the SCO by the Tajik side, the SCO's interaction with the UN will reach a qualitatively new level.
I am pleased to say that next year our organisation will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The Jubilee SCO Summit will take place in Dushanbe on 16-17 September 2021.
Dear participants of the briefing, I have introduced you to the specific proposals of each party which are aimed at promoting multifaceted cooperation within the SCO and overcoming the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic.
The SCO Secretariat will work with all parties to implement them.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that at the end of the Summit, in addition to the Moscow Declaration, approved were Statements on the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Second World War, on countering the spread of terrorist, separatist and extremist ideology, including on the Internet, on cooperation in ensuring international information security, on countering the drug threat, on countering jointly the new coronavirus infection, and on cooperation in the field of digital economy.
Let me briefly talk about these important documents:
1. The Statement of the Council of the Heads of the SCO Member States on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Second World War sets out general approaches of our states to the problem of preserving the historical memory of the heroic deeds of our peoples, deep analysis of the tragic lessons of the past, assessment of the role and place of the UN and multilateral diplomacy in shaping a sustainable system of international relations.
The adoption of this document has become a vivid and convincing demonstration of cohesion, friendship and mutual understanding of the SCO member states, as well as of our unwavering readiness to deeply respect and appreciate the feat of the peoples of all the countries that fought on the side of the anti-Nazi coalition and who, at the cost of enormous human losses, ensured the great victory over Nazism, fascism and militarism.
One of the most important security documents adopted was the Statement of the Council of Heads of SCO Member States on countering the spread of terrorist, separatist and extremist ideology, including on the Internet.
The document covers consolidated approaches of our countries to combating terrorism and the extremism that feeds it, taking into account their growing interconnection with organised crime and cybercrime.
The statement particularly noted that international initiatives in the field of countering terrorism, separatism and extremism should be based on a balanced and comprehensive approach, take into account national experience and the specifics of states, in full compliance with the provisions of the UN Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
The SCO believes that the key role in combating terrorism and the extremism that feeds it must remain with the national authorities.
At the same time, the document underlines the importance of the humanitarian direction of the counter-terrorism policy, including through the formation of multilateral approaches aimed at discrediting terrorism, separatism and extremism, the voluntary participation of civil society in this process, as well as creating an atmosphere of peaceful, responsible and safe use of the Internet.
3. Another equally important document approved by a decision of the Council of Heads of State was the Statement on Combating the Drug Threat.
The adoption of this document emphasised the special significance of the anti-drug agenda in SCO activities.
The statement stressed the need to continue implementing effective measures to counter the drug threat related to the illicit production of narcotic drugs of opium and cannabis groups and synthetic drugs, including in the context of the emerging drug situation in Afghanistan, as well as their transit through Central, South East and South Asia and other regions.
Special attention is focused on the relevance of interrupting drug trafficking channels in a virtual environment, as well as through shipping, postal parcels or couriers.
4. With regard to the Statement on the Joint Response to the New Coronavirus Infection (COVID-19), I would like to note that the adoption of this document symbolises the factors of unity, cohesion and mutual support that the SCO member states provide to each other in the context of the pandemic, fully relying on the "Shanghai spirit".
The statement notes the importance of the international community's efforts in strengthening the world's health care system, primarily the WHO's capacity, and in implementing the principles of the International Health Regulations (2005).
The SCO member states will expand cooperation in the sphere of public health, comprehensively coordinate measures to respond to emergency situations in the sphere of health care and epidemiology, deepen scientific and technical cooperation in the development of drugs, vaccines and test systems.
5. With regard to the Statement on Cooperation in the Field of Digital Economy, I would like to note that it confirms the growing importance of digital transformation for achieving global inclusive economic development.
The Statement notes that digital technologies are becoming one of the key factors in accelerating economic development, increasing the competitiveness of various industries, creating new markets and ensuring comprehensive sustainable growth.
The SCO Heads of State opposed measures that hinder international cooperation in developing the digital economy on a global scale.
It seems important to cooperate in the following areas:
— development of cooperation in the fields of digitalisation, information and communication technologies in industry, transport, agriculture, healthcare, education, tourism, energy, trade, finance and customs;
— consideration of projects to create new models of digital entrepreneurship, including in the area of small and medium-sized businesses, training of qualified personnel and specialists;
— studying issues of further cooperation in the field of programmes and scientific developments in the field of "through" digital technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, the development of innovation clusters and technology parks, incubation and acceleration of start-ups, the use of modern information and communication technologies in public administration and the provision of public services.
6. The Statement on Cooperation in the Field of International Information Security notes that the development and use of information and communication technologies, as well as international and regional cooperation in this area, must be based on universally recognised principles of international law, including the UN Charter.
Taking into account the cross-border nature of ICT, the Member States recognize the importance of international cooperation in the field of information security by intensifying efforts at the national, bilateral and multilateral levels.
In this context, the SCO expresses its support for the UN's activities aimed at developing rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of states in the information space, and confirms its intention to continue joint work and coordination of efforts in this area within the framework of key relevant UN negotiation platforms.
The SCO is committed to developing multilateral cooperation to counter the use of ICTs for terrorist, separatist, extremist and other criminal purposes.
In this regard, it is necessary to develop, under the aegis of the UN, universal legally binding instruments to counteract information crime.
The SCO emphasises the need to achieve a balance between security and development, which requires joint efforts by all countries to ensure an equal, fair and non-discriminatory environment for doing business in the field of new technologies, as well as the development, within the framework of international specialised institutions, of universally recognised technical standards to ensure information security.
In addition, it was decided to establish the SCO Cultural Integration Centre in Bishkek.
Dear participants of the press conference,
In addition to the documents mentioned above, at the end of the Summit an Action Plan 2021-2025 for the implementation of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025 was approved.
This is in fact a roadmap for our Organisation, envisaging the holding in the coming years of about 150 practical events across the entire spectrum of multifaceted cooperation.
First of all, the Plan is clearly aimed at deepening the foreign policy coordination of the SCO countries at leading international forums, including the promotion of the experience of cooperation in countering modern challenges and threats to global and regional security.
In addition, special attention is paid to measures to restore national economies in the post-Pandemic period with an emphasis on the formation of a favourable business climate and trade and investment chains, development of digital technologies and the transport and logistics industry.
At the same time, the Plan places strong emphasis on developing the information dimension of the Organisation's activities, including in the context of promoting its positive image, communicating accurate and adequate information about the SCO to the general public, and establishing mutually beneficial contacts between the mass media of our countries.
I would like to emphasise that this document clearly reflects the non-blocking nature of our Organisation, its obvious focus on the widest possible international cooperation.
We are ready to actively involve in our joint work the observer states and dialogue partners of our Organisation, who in a broad sense are part of the "SCO family".
Dear colleagues, no less important document approved at the Summit is the Concept of Cooperation of SCO Member States on Development of Remote and Rural Areas in the Digital Age.
I should note that the Concept was developed on the initiative of the Russian side.
More than 60% of the population of the SCO countries are rural residents who, due to geographical peculiarities, do not always have access to basic social services and quality infrastructure, including telecommunications.
It is precisely overcoming the problems of "accessibility" for remote and rural areas of the SCO countries, studying the prospects of using digital technologies and connecting to the processes of digital transformation of modern society as a whole are among the key tasks.
Experts are also forming a Bank of the Best Solutions for the Development of Remote Territories in the SCO Member States.
In addition, the Summit adopted a Comprehensive Plan of Joint Activities of the SCO Member States to Counteract the Threats of Epidemics in the Region, which is aimed at making full use of the existing SCO mechanisms for taking decisive measures to counter the spread of the disease.
The importance of this document is due to the fact that it provides for capacity building of laboratories, advanced training of specialists, joint scientific research, development of vaccines and effective methods of treating epidemiological diseases.
In addition to these documents, the Heads of SCO Member States signed the decision to go ahead with the signing of Memoranda of Understanding between the SCO Secretariat and the Secretariats of ESCAP, WHO and EAEC.