MOSCOW – Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov participated in the June 3 regular meeting in Moscow of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The focus of the meeting was to prepare for the upcoming council of the heads of SCO member states that will take place July 9-10 in Ufa, Russia.
Before the meeting, which took place in Moscow’s historic Ukraine Hotel of the Radisson chain, the foreign ministers were received by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, who outlined the priorities of his country during its SCO chairmanship. Putin noted the significant contributions and initiatives of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev towards deepening cooperation in Eurasia and expressed support for the adoption of the organisation’s development strategy until 2025.
During their own meeting, the foreign ministers of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, discussed topical issues on the international and regional agenda and prospects of development of cooperation within the SCO framework in political, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres, as well as agreed on the agenda of the upcoming council of heads of states meeting. The foreign ministers also discussed the prospects of further expansion of the organization, to countries including India, Pakistan and potentially Iran and its interaction with other states and entities and developed concrete proposals on these issues for consideration at next month’s summit.
“In recent years, the SCO has turned into one of the most reputable and dynamic organisations of multifaceted cooperation, not only in the region but in the whole world,” said Idrissov.
The SCO was established in June 2001 and came out of the 1996 agreement between four former Soviet states and China to strengthen confidence along their mutual borders and withdraw heavy weaponry to beyond 100 kilometres from the borders. In June 1996, Uzbekistan joined the former Shanghai Five as it evolved into a formal organisation, SCO.
In the framework of cooperation within the SCO, Kazakhstan gives priority to a coordinated approach of the key issues of political, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, as well as worldwide security and stability in the SCO space, Idrissov added. Further deepening of cooperation in these areas can significantly increase the potential not only of the organisation’s member states, but also to a certain extent the observer countries and dialogue partners. The necessary legal outline has already been laid, he said.
“The adoption of the SCO development strategy until 2025 will be a powerful impetus to the dynamic development of cooperation between our countries. I believe that this policy document, designed for a decade, should reflect not only the prospects of cooperation in political and economic spheres, but also the routes and directions of timely resolution of regional problems, including environmental safety and prevention of a water crisis,” said Idrissov.
In this context, Idrissov drew the attention of his colleagues to the issues of trans-boundary water management in the SCO region. In his words, as close neighbours with common cross-border water resources, the member states may use their organisation as a platform for constructive dialogue and search for mutually-acceptable solutions. In this respect, partnership between the SCO secretariat and the executive committee of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea looks promising.
The minister also noted that Kazakhstan supports establishing contacts and continuing active cooperation between the SCO and other regional and international organisations and dialogue platforms. A memorandum of understanding between the SCO and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) dated May 20, 2014 opens opportunities to develop contacts in many areas of cooperation. The potential for fruitful collaboration also exists in establishing formal relations between the SCO and the Eurasian Economic Commission of the Eurasian Economic Union.
Idrissov also noted that Kazakhstan counts on the support of the SCO partners for its candidacy for non-permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council for 2017-2018.
“Our candidacy was put forward in accordance with the principles of fairness, rational geographic rotation and adequate representation of all countries of Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. Kazakhstan has gained considerable experience during the chairmanship of the SCO, OIC, CICA, CIS, CSTO and the OSCE in different periods and is willing to apply it in matters of international security,” he said.
In his speech, Idrissov outlined Kazakhstan’s approaches to further expansion of the SCO and implementation of cooperation in economic and transit-transport sectors, noting the relevance of this work in light of the application of Nurly Zhol, Kazakhstan’s new economic policy. The minister also informed his colleagues about upcoming, large-scale developments in Kazakhstan which are planned in light of executing Nazarbayev’s five institutional reforms.
Referring to the cooperation in the sphere of security, Idrissov noted the importance of strengthening the capacity of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and increasing cooperation between the border and customs structures for the effective fight against illegal migration and trafficking in drugs and weapons. The importance of coordinated action of the SCO member states in the light of the situation in Afghanistan, as well as due to the increased activities of the so-called “Islamic state” in the Middle East, were emphasised.
The issues of regional security were discussed more concretely at the high-level conference with the theme “Security and stability in the SCO region,” which took place June 4 in Moscow. The conference was attended by the SCO foreign ministers, as well as ministers and high-ranking representatives of SCO observer states, such as Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan and SCO dialogue partners, including Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka.