Meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council 2021-09-17 12:20:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region The President of Russia took part, via videoconference, in a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of State Council. The meeting held in Dushanbe under the chairmanship of President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, and President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Apart from the SCO heads of state, the organisers have invited to the meeting President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, and President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh in their capacity as heads of SCO observer states, as well as President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov as a guest of the current SCO Chair. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a video message to the summit. A package of documents was signed following the summit, including the Dushanbe Declaration on the 20th Anniversary of the SCO. Decisions adopted at the summit approved, in particular, the SCO Programme of cooperation in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2022–2024; the Working Plan (2021–2023) on implementing the action programme for fulfilling the Anti-Drug Strategy of SCO member states for 2018–2023; the plan for SCO cooperation in ensuring international information security in 2022–2023, and the plan on joint measures of SCO member states on countering the adverse socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021–2023. Decisions on signing memorandums of understanding between the SCO Secretariat and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Arab League Secretariat-General, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) were also adopted. In addition, it was decided to launch the accession process for the Islamic Republic of Iran to join the SCO, and to grant the State of Qatar, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the SCO’s dialogue partner status. The participants also adopted statements by the SCO Heads of State Council on promoting cooperation in science, technology, innovation, and food security. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rahmon, colleagues, First of all, I would like to join the words of gratitude to our Tajikistani friends and President Emomali Rahmon for the considerable amount of work being done in the course of Tajikistan’s chairmanship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Profiting by this occasion, I would also like to join the greetings to the Prime Minister of India. I wish Mr Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi a very happy birthday. I would like to wish you, my dear friend, good health and every kind of success. Symbolically, the SCO’s anniversary meeting is being held in Dushanbe, as it has been mentioned, where in July 2000 the leaders of the Shanghai Five – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – called for the establishment of a regional organisation for multilateral cooperation, which would act in the spirit of good-neighbourliness, mutual trust, and respect for the interests of each other. This organisation was created and has functioned successfully for the past 20 years. The SCO is by right one of the most influential centres of the multi-polar architecture of international cooperation, making a significant contribution to security in the Eurasian region, its sustainable socioeconomic growth, and international peace and stability as a whole. Right now, our organisation is facing an urgent task of launching a common coordinated policy, which would take into account the serious risks related to the surge of tension in Afghanistan after the hasty pull-out, if not to say flight, of the US forces and their NATO allies from that country. All of us are well aware that the developments in Afghanistan are directly projected to the security interests of the SCO member states, all the more so that a number of SCO states have a common border with Afghanistan. I believe that we must use the organisation’s potential to provide all-round assistance to launching an inclusive intra-Afghan peace process and, simultaneously, to block the threats of terrorism, drug trafficking and religious extremism coming from that country. It is true that the change of power there was almost bloodless, which is definitely a positive factor. The Taliban currently controls nearly the entire territory of Afghanistan, and it would be reasonable to encourage the new Afghan authorities to implement their own promises of peace, normal civil life and security for all. In this context, we can discuss the possibility of relaunching the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which was created in the past for working with our Afghan partners. You are all aware that the algorithm of our rapid joint response to the threats coming from Afghanistan was discussed in detail yesterday at the CSTO Collective Security Council meeting. Of course, we would like the decisions adopted at the meeting to be supported and accepted by our SCO partners. Therefore, I regard the initiative of holding a joint meeting of the SCO and CSTO leaders today as very important and useful. This will allow us to hold an in-depth discussion of our two organisations’ practical interaction on the Afghan track and to coordinate our efforts with due regard for the specific features and powers of the SCO and the CSTO. As for cooperation within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation proper, we believe that it would be useful to strengthen the capabilities of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure by expanding its staff to include experts on money laundering, financing of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I would like to point out that Russia will contribute most energetically to the implementation of the SCO Programme on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism for 2022–2024, the SCO Anti-Drug Strategy until 2023, and the SCO Cooperation Plan in Ensuring International Information Security for 2022–2023, to be approved today. For all the particular attention required by the need to ward off threats emerging in our common space, the SCO member states still have many traditional tasks on their agenda, namely those related to the deepening of partner relations in the economic and social spheres. The COVID-19 pandemic – our colleagues have just talked about this in detail – has led to a decline in international trade, provoked volatility on the financial and raw material markets, and limited investment flows. The crisis state of the world economy has sparked a rise in unemployment and poverty levels. Of course, all of this has affected the economic ties between SCO members. Last year, the volume of mutual trade between Russia and the SCO states dropped by 6.4 percent to $141.6 billion. But today, there is every reason to believe that we can remedy the situation, bringing cooperation to its former level and even strengthening it. This is being facilitated by the large-scale anti-crisis measures undertaken by all SCO states. Russia, for one, has allocated about three trillion rubles – this, for the sake of clarity, is over 4.5 percent of Russia’s GDP in comparable figures – to preserve jobs and incomes, support businesses, re-launch the investment cycle, and help the regions, specific people and families, primarily families with children. We regard digitalisation and the wider use of environmentally clean technologies and other innovative solutions in all spheres of life, including public administration, transport and communications, as the key tools in incentivising further economic growth. The SCO member states have established collaboration in all these areas, and it must be vigorously promoted. The SCO Green Belt Programme and the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Concept of Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection for 2022–2024, which we are to approve today, are due to assist the introduction of modern resource-saving technologies. I would also like to mention the role played by the Comprehensive Plan of Joint Measures to Counter the Threats of Epidemics in restoring the pace of economic cooperation in the SCO space amid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It was promptly adopted at the Organisation’s summit last year during Russia’s chairmanship. It is important that all SCO member states are implementing this plan actively and willingly. It is worth saying in this context that Russia has sent nearly 1.2 million free COVID-19 test kits to the SCO member states. We continue providing help by sending our leading medical specialists and researchers to our partners. Incidentally, we have invited the SCO countries to send their delegates to an international exercise of rapid epidemic emergency response teams, which will be held in Kazan, Russia, in October. I would also like to say that Russia stands for the further expansion of the legal framework of the SCO countries’ humanitarian cooperation. A major step towards this will be the approval of the member states’ decisions on cooperation in the protection of cultural heritage landmarks, working with young people, cooperation in the sphere of culture and the arts in general, as well as regulations on the SCO tourism and cultural capital. Friends, All of us are paying considerable attention to the SCO’s cooperation with the states that are trying to develop an open and equal dialogue with our Organisation and are considering the possibility of joining in its efforts. In this context, Russia supports the decision, which has been submitted for approval to the Council of the SCO Heads of State, on launching the procedure of granting SCO membership to the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have always advocated Iran’s full participation in the work of our Organisation, proceeding from the premise that this country plays an important role in the Eurasian region and has been fruitfully cooperating with the SCO for a long time. There is no doubt that Iran’s accession to the SCO will further strengthen the Organisation’s international standing. Of course, we welcome the granting of the dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Russia proactively supports efforts to get these countries involved in various aspects of the SCO’s activities. There is also a robust portfolio of applications from other countries seeking to cooperate with our Organisation in one way or another, and it definitely deserves our close attention. From a practical standpoint, we believe that we need to think about ways to upgrade the participation of observers and dialogue partners in the SCO’s work so that they become more effective. In our opinion, it would be advisable to accompany SCO leaders’ summits with the so-called SCO-plus format at the top or high level and invite all our partners to attend such meetings. There is one more thing I wanted to say. I would like to highlight the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed today between the SCO Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission. It is clearly designed to further Russia’s idea of establishing a greater Eurasian partnership covering the SCO, the EAEU, ASEAN and China’s Belt and Road initiative. I am certain that by aligning various ongoing integration projects across Eurasia and creating a common space within this vast region for open, equal and mutually beneficial cooperation will serve the interests of all our countries. Friends, In conclusion, I would like to thank once again Mr Rahmon for arranging this meeting, and of course I wish Mr Mirziyoyev every success as Uzbekistan is next in line for the SCO presidency. Thank you for your attention.