Speech at the restricted format meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State

Monday, 12 June 2017 05:18

Vladimir Putin spoke at the restricted format meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

We highly assess Kazakhstan’s achievements during its Presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It has prepared a busy agenda for the SCO Heads of State Council meeting. I am convinced that the decisions we adopt today will further strengthen the SCO’s role in international affairs and will facilitate the settlement of problems facing our countries.

One positive achievement, without a doubt, is the accession of India and Pakistan. It is the first time that we accept new members to the organisation. I would like to say that Russia has always supported these two countries’ intention to join the SCO as full members. I am glad that this process has been successfully completed thanks to our concerted efforts and the energetic work by our Indian and Pakistani partners.

    The decisions we adopt will further strengthen the SCO’s role in international affairs and will facilitate the settlement of problems facing our countries.

India and Pakistan have completed the required procedures and have joined over 30 SCO treaties and instruments. We must now help our new colleagues fit into organisation’s work and its agencies effectively and as soon as possible. This is not easy to do, and all of us should keep an eye on this process.

We know that several other countries would like to join the SCO. I believe this could be done after the accession process of the two new members – India and Pakistan – is completed.

Colleagues,

I would like to say a few words about the current regional and international issues and the priorities for our bilateral relations.

It is obvious that terrorism is the main threat for the SCO states. We keep saying that it is important to join efforts of the entire international community to combat this evil. Such work is being done within the organisation and its relevant structures.

    One positive achievement is the accession of India and Pakistan. I am glad that this process has been successfully completed thanks to our concerted efforts and the energetic work by our Indian and Pakistani partners.

At the same time, we have not yet managed to establish a fruitful, equal and constructive interaction with our other partners outside the SCO.

We see what is going on in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the Middle East in general. I must say that the domestic political environment in the United States does not help bringing this interaction to a productive, system-wide level.

There are some positive developments, of course, including the efforts to settle the Syrian crisis. I want to thank the President of Kazakhstan for providing a platform in Astana for consultations between the opposing sides.

In general, they have had a positive impact; I’m talking about the ceasefire and the creation of de-escalation zones. This is a serious improvement. However, it is a long way off to the complete settlement of the crisis.

    Terrorism is the main threat for the SCO states. It is important to join efforts of the entire international community to combat this evil.

The lack of efficient international cooperation does not allow us to make progress in improving the situation in Afghanistan. For the past 15 years, the United States and NATO have conducted combat operations against the Taliban but the military and domestic environment in the country keeps degrading. This is probably the most serious source of threats to the security of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation region.

We know that the US has urged its NATO allies – Europeans, first of all – to again join operations in Afghanistan. They said so at the recent NATO session, we all know that.

It seems that not all NATO member states, including Europeans, want to get involved in this, and almost no one wants to return there on a full-fledged basis. We should consider that part of the current environment.

Therefore, we believe it is important to resume the work of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which was suspended in 2009. Let’s think about using the SCO platform to facilitate the dialogue between the Kabul government and the opposition groups. I think our foreign ministries should be instructed to develop concrete steps in this direction.

    We consider it crucial to encourage direct contacts between the SCO and other regional organisations, first of all, with the Eurasian Economic Union.

The efforts of terrorists who have settled in Afghanistan to spread their criminal activity to our countries are also a cause for concern. The underground groups of ISIS members have been created in the SCO member states; this was shown by the investigation of the terrorist attack in St Petersburg.

As far as we know, ISIS is plotting to destabilise Central Asia and Russia’s southern regions, so we need to improve the interaction between security agencies of the SCO states, including regional counterterrorism structures.

Of course, it is important to develop interaction in business, boost trade, and improve the investment climate and the infrastructure within the SCO.

We will support the proposals our colleagues made here, including those by the Chinese President. It will help the SCO states ensure long-term and sustainable growth.

    It is important to develop interaction in business, boost trade, and improve the investment climate and the infrastructure within the SCO.

We also consider it crucial to encourage direct contacts between the SCO and other regional organisations, first of all, with the Eurasian Economic Union. In this regard, we should consider drafting and signing the next cooperation memorandum between the SCO Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission.

The One Belt, One Road forum, which took place in Beijing in May, has confirmed the promising outlook of aligning various integration processes.

I believe that if we join the efforts of the SCO, EAEU, the Chinese initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt with other organisations it would be possible to make progress in forming a major Eurasian partnership stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Thank you for your attention.

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