Expert Discusses Kazakhstan’s Priorities as SCO Chair

ASTANA – Kazakhstan is interested in developing multifaceted cooperation as part of its chairmanship in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Aidar Kurmashev, head of the Asian Studies Department at the Kazakh Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an interview with The Astana Times.

Aidar Kurmashev.

“Kazakhstan aims to strengthen economic ties among member states by developing transport corridors and promoting an innovative economy. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasizes the necessity of creating favorable conditions for increasing mutual trade turnover, removing trade barriers and launching joint ventures,” said Kurmashev.

The expert also noted that multidirectional and geopolitical neutrality will continue to be the country’s main priorities. Kazakhstan does not welcome any ideological, political or military unification of the organization.

“Kazakhstan calls for sustainability in the organization and moving toward a modernization policy that will ensure its relevance and effectiveness,” said Kurmashev. 

The expert believes Kazakhstan’s foreign policy will remain consistent, as it has always been characterized by “predictability, balance and peace-loving nature.”

“It is the basis of international trust and support for the country’s initiatives. Kazakhstan promotes cooperation based on mutual understanding, respect and implementation of national interests within the SCO and in the international arena. Kazakhstan adheres to the principle that international organizations should seek to develop mutually acceptable approaches to solve common problems and find promising areas of interaction,” he added. 

A development strategy, set to be presented as part of Kazakhstan’s presidency, and plans to adopt the Concept for Strengthening the SCO’s potential, will also contribute to an updated model of the SCO.

Kazakhstan’s cooperation with China and India as part of the SCO opens up excellent prospects for learning from their experience, including approaches to developing digitalization. 

“The population of the SCO member states accounts for almost half of the world population, and their collective contribution to the global gross domestic product amounts to a quarter of the world economy. As a result, the SCO is becoming a powerful player with enormous influence in world politics and the global economy. The composition of the organization is diverse and includes states with a high level of economic development that have a notable impact on the global political arena,” he said. 

The SCO is primarily focused on ensuring security and stability in the Euro-Asian region. It plays a role in addressing new challenges and threats and strengthening trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation. 

The organization is instrumental in shaping the Asian region, covering many aspects, including politics, economics and security, thus facilitating the exchange of ideas, experiences and resources among its member countries.

“Notably, Almaty may soon be designated as the SCO’s tourist and cultural capital through 2024. This status will attract more investments to the city and increase the flow of tourists, providing a significant impetus for the city’s development in all fields,” said Kurmashev. 

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