SCO Secretary-General participates in 4th International Turkish-Asian Congress in Istanbul

Opening Speech

27-29 May 2009 the SCO Secretary-General Bolat Nurgaliev participated in the 4th International Turkish-Asian Congress “Regional Organisations in Asia: Institutionalisation and Cooperation” held in Istanbul, he made statements during the opening of the Congress and the first plenary meeting on the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation....

27-29 May 2009 the SCO Secretary-General Bolat Nurgaliev participated in the 4th International Turkish-Asian Congress “Regional Organisations in Asia: Institutionalisation and Cooperation” held in Istanbul, he made statements during the opening of the Congress and the first plenary meeting on the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

 The OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Executive Director of the CICA Secretariat Dulat Bakishev, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Akhani, Qatar’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulla M. Al-Rumaihi, Representative of the Turkish Prime Minister Hakan Fidan, officials from the OEC, EurAsEc, D-8, ADB, IDB, the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, League of Arab Nations, Ambassadors of India, Mongolia, Philippines, Vietnam, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran, Consuls General of Russia, Pakistan and other states accredited in Turkey, as well as political experts and economists from Turkey, Russia, India, Malaysia and Afghanistan took part in the Congress.

On the sidelines of the Congress the SCO Chief held a separate news conference for the Turkish media, gave interviews to several Turkish newspapers, magazines, TV channels and radio stations. They were showing considerable interest in the SCO activity and the prospects for establishing partnership relations between Turkey and the SCO.

Bolat Nurgaliev held separate meetings with the OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Akhani during which issues of mutual concern were discussed.

 

 

Statement of the Secretary-General of the SCO Bolat K.Nurgaliev at the IV International Turkish-Asian Congress "Regional Organisations in Asia/ Institutionization and Cooperation"

 

I am thankful for the opportunity to take part in the discussion of the themes included into the agenda of the Congress. Indeed, cooperation on the basis of regional organizations in Asia is of growing interest to governments, politicians, experts, businessmen and media representatives of a very wide variety of countries.

I join distinguished Dr. Ermeledin Ihsauoglu in expressing special gratitude to the Turkish-Asian Centre for Strategic Studies and personally to Chairman Suleyman Sensoy for warm hospitality and excellent arrangement of the event. To be in Istanbul in May is the most enjoyable experience.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation occupies its own niche among different regional organizations and specialized institutions which devote their main efforts to maintaining peace, security and stability and creating favorable conditions to sustainable socio-economic development.

I’ll speak about its role at the 1st session of the Forum “New balances: Asia’s geopolitics and institutionalisation.

I’ll concentrate my presentation on the role of the SCO as a common platform for China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in their cooperation to build coherent frameworks for joint action while meeting common challenges and threats.

There are certain facts which help to understand the SCO’s current role and potential.

The Organisation’s evolution throughout 8 years of its existence is an example of a positive, dynamic process. The SCO member-states were determined to turn their comparative advantages of being long-term neighbours and close friends into common benefit. Our approach to security and cooperation was based from the outset on mutual trust and equality. It was not easy, given vast differences in political and economic weight of the member states.

Russia and China, being two permanent members of the UN Security Council, understandably share unique responsibilities for maintaining global peace and security.

For objective reasons the significance of Central Asia in ensuring energy, food and transportation security will be increasing, thus enhancing their negotiation capacity.

Per capita GDP of our countries vary from 16 thousand dollars to 2 thousand dollars. Some countries have huge territories with comparatively small populations, while others are densely populated. Some have world class reserves of natural resources, while challenged by being doublely landlocked and relying on neighbours to get access to international communication and transportation systems.

What unites us is a common understanding of the nature of shared threats and risks and a common philosophy of seeking the approaches to even the most difficult problems on the basis of respect of each others interests. Our priorities  are: a) safeguarding good-neighbourly relations; b) search for compromise solutions; and c) firm belief that differences, disputes, contradictions and conflict situations can be and should be resolved on the constructive foundation of dialogue, consultations and mutual yielding. These priorities are not only enshrined in respective documents, they are reflected in real, day-to-day practice of the SCO interaction. Small and big states have equal rights and equal say in decision-making. Throughout my experience as the Secretary-General I can not recollect a single case when a view of  a certain partner was ignored or, on the contrary, given special consideration because of its political or economic might or lack of it. That is manifested in the course of annual meetings of the heads of state and heads of government, as well as regular meetings of ministers, senior officials and experts in charge of different spheres of activity.

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To give an idea about the intensity of high level meetings, I’ll provide a list of those which have taken place since the SCO summit in Dushanbe last August:

-the seventh conference of ministers in charge of external economic affairs (September 2008, Tashkent);

-two sessions of the Regional Counterterrorist Structure Council (September 2008, Dushanbe, March 2009, Tashkent);

-the second conference of Education ministers (October 2008, Astana);

-the sixth session of the Council of the Heads of Government (October 2008, Astana);

-two sessions of the Business Council Board of Directors (September 2008, Irkutsk, January 2009, Shenzhen);

-the sixth conference of Culture Ministers (April 2009, Kazan);

-a regular meeting of  Chief  Prosecutors (April 2009, Moscow);

-an annual conference of Defense Ministers (April 2009, Moscow);

-an annual session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (May 2009, Moscow)

-the first meeting of Internal Affairs Ministers (May 2009, Ekatirenburg);

-the forth meeting of the Secretaries of National Security Councils (May 2009, Moscow).

Besides the above mentioned, we have regular meetings of the Council of National Coordinators, senior officials and experts, representing more than 30 different venues of joint activities in political, economic and humanitarian spheres.

Intensive preparations are under way for the forthcoming in two weeks the nineth session of the Council of Heads of State to be held in the heart of the Urals – the city of Ekatirenburg. By the SCO charter, the CHS is the supreme decision making body which considers the most important issues of the Organisation’s  development as well as the assessment of the international and regional situation. Usually, this shared assessment is reflected in a summit’s Declaration and Joint Communique, which list agreed measures to promote multifaceted cooperation in priority fields. The Ekatirenburg Declaration will not be an exception.  I am confident that the leaders of six states will stress that we are united by a shared  desire to maintain peace, security and stability in our region. That if the SCO member states succeed in promoting their economic growth, social and cultural development, despite the current crises in global economy and finances, it would be a good example for other regions of the world. That it would mean the guiding principles of the Organisation are working for the benefit of everybody.

         The foremost role of the SCO is to serve as a common ground to coordinate efforts in countering transborder challenges and threats with the aim of shrenthening security and stability in the Eurasian space. We are capable of achieving this task by promoting multifaceted, long-term cooperation based on a prevailing principle: together we are more effective, united we are stronger, combining our resources we can ensure better, safer life for the citizens.

         The SCO considers that the scale and acuteness of threats of terrorism, separatism and extremism are not diminishing. This is an unfortunate fact. That is why the sphere of security is a top priority. The main coordinating bodies for security cooperation are the Secretariat of the SCO in Beijing, the capital of China, and the Regional Counterterrorist Structure based in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. We have legal obligation to share information about known terrorists and terrorist organizations so that competent services will trace them on the territory of any member state. This proved to be an effective mechanism resulting in achieving specific goals. Cooperation in this important field will increase in future. There are no difficulties in bringing together our states because of firm commitment of all six members of the SCO to make sure that terrorists and extremists of different kinds will not destabilize the situation in region. Within the SCO we always stress that terrorism has nothing to do with specific faiths and religions. Fight against international terrorism should not transform into hostile attitude to certain confessions and definitely not into islamophobia.

         Security and stability can not be strengthened without effective state of national economy. Within the SCO we have a solid legal foundation and organizational structure for developing economic cooperation. We adopted in 2008 a revised reduction of the Programme of multilateral trade and economic cooperation aimed at moving towards free flow of capital, goods, services and technology within the next 20 years. Economic priorities include implementation of  a number of pilot projects of regional dimension in energy, transportation and information technology. Our aim is to modernise energy and transport infrastructure of all six member states as a major precondition for eventual regional integration.

         To marry interests of public and private sectors two specific bodies were created: the Business Council and the Interbank Association. They are working to form a substantial investment portfolio capable of financing large and medium scale infrastructure project on the territory of the SCO member states.

         The SCO is experiencing a substantial shift in emphasis from political cooperation to economic interaction. We feel that economic interaction needs to be brought to the same height as political aspects of the SCO activities. This understanding reflects the interlinkage between promoting socioeconomic progress and eliminating breeding ground for dissatisfaction among certain groups of population, which may cause involvement in terrorist and extremist activities.

         Besides security dimension, there is another aspect of stronger focus on economic cooperation. Within the Organisation we do not divide states into different categories because of the volume of their GDPs or richness of their natural resources. Although our countries differ in sizes of the territory, population, economy and resources, we are united by a common desire to combine our advantages in order to neutralize disadvantages. So the main challenge is to create common political, economic and informational space and instill in the peoples of the six nations a sense of a shared destiny, of belonging to one family. Of course, it will take time and intense efforts.

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By its charter the SCO is an open organization. We welcome establishing ties with any interested state or international organisation. Currently we have four observer states: India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. Our contribution to normalization of the situation in Afghanistan is arranged through a special SCO-Afganistan Contact Group. Our serious concern about the threats of terrorism, drug trafficing and organized crime caused by instability in Afganistan was voiced at the Moscow special conference under the augies of the SCO last March.

         There are certain procedures established to set up partnership with the SCO. The main requirement is to share the goals and tasks of the Organisation and be ready to participate in implementing specific projects in political, economic and cultural fields. That readiness is shown by the four current observer states, they are playing a positive role in advancing the goals of the SCO. Same is true of a new category of partners in dialogue, established last year at the Dushanbe summit.

         The fact that several states expressed their desire to join the Organisation proves that the SCO is making a constructive contribution to regional and global security and stability. There is an Uzbek saying: “Nobody throws stones at a tree that doesn’t grow fruit”. In preparation for the Organisation’s eventual expansion, we are working on the criteria for admission of new members.

         We pay special attention to development of partnership with other regional institutions, including the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Organisation of Collective Security Treaty, Eurasian Economic Community, the ECO, the ASEAN, the ESCAP and others.

         Everything on the agenda of the SCO main bodies and decisions adopted within the Organisation is transparent. We would like the international community to have a correct understanding of the goals and activities of the SCO, aimed to contribute to the creation of a new architecture of global security free from bloc or ideological divisions, free from pressure and blackmail, free from division into strong and weak. The increasing stature of the SCO and desire to find our own solutions to the challenges facing the region should cause no concern to those who share the goals of making the world and the Eurasia more secure, stable, tolerant and mutually supportive.

         I sincerely hope that the Istanbul Congress will once again underline interdependence of states and specialized institutions in their search for turning current challenges into opportunities.

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

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