President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,
I would like to welcome the heads of the foreign policy departments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states.
The participants in the SCO foreign ministers’ meeting plan to discuss a broad range of issues on the further development of cooperation in the political, economic and social areas, and exchange views on urgent international and regional problems.
I would like to note that against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Russian presidency [in the SCO] has tried to do all it can for the SCO to work effectively and without losing its pace.
Naturally, we had to adjust the plan of measures of our presidency: not all of the over 90 planned events were carried out. Nevertheless, I believe that key tasks have been fulfilled and SCO cooperation has been strengthened in major areas.
The organisation plays a major role in ensuring peace and security, as well as sustainable development in Eurasia. Acting on the principles of equality and mutual consideration for everyone’s interests, we strive to conduct a joint search for ways of resolving today’s global challenges and we maintain close foreign policy coordination, including in the UN and other international venues.
The SCO has shown an ability to respond promptly to new acute challenges. We are undertaking concerted efforts to overcome the political, trade, economic and social ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic.
To reiterate, the security situation in Eurasia and neighbouring regions still requires special attention on the part of the SCO. The situation in Afghanistan remains tense, and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa continue unabated. Terrorism poses a serious threat, and drug trafficking, organised crime and cybercrime are on the rise.
Much remains to be done to expand the interaction between the SCO countries in economic cooperation, to build technological partnerships and create a common transport and logistics infrastructure, to convert to national currencies in mutual transactions as previously agreed.
I believe it is important to more energetically involve the Business Council, the Interbank Consortium, the Forum of Regional Heads and the SCO Youth Council in these and other promising areas.
Meanwhile, it is gratifying to know that other countries and international organisations are increasingly interested in working with the SCO. We have received 16 requests to join our organisation as member states, observers or dialogue partners. This illustrates the authority our organisation enjoys internationally.
The foreign ministers’ meeting traditionally comes as the final stage of preparations for a meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council, which Russia will use to end its chairmanship in the organisation and hand it over to Tajikistan.
As you are aware, due to the epidemiological situation, we, unfortunately, were not able to hold the meeting of the Heads of State Council that was initially planned for July. We are working to hold it online in November. I am confident that, at the upcoming summit, we will be able to substantively and in a business-like manner discuss ways to expand comprehensive cooperation within the SCO.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to convey my best wishes to the leaders of your countries.
In closing, I would like to wish you productive work. I hope you will have engaging and useful discussions in Moscow and that the decisions you make will help strengthen partnership and cooperation throughout the vast space of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.