The meeting participants discussed prospects for developing cooperation within the SCO and topical issues on the international and regional agendas.
A series of documents was adopted following the meeting, including the Moscow Declaration of the SCO Heads of State Council.
The package of documents also includes resolutions of the SCO Heads of State Council approving the 2021–2025 Action Plan for the implementation of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, on the SCO Cooperation Concept for Developing Remote and Rural Territories in the Digital Age, on the SCO Comprehensive Plan of Joint Measures to Counter Epidemics in the Region. Additionally, decisions were made to sign memorandums of understanding between the SCO Secretariat and the Secretariat of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Eurasian Economic Commission, the World Health Organisation, and on the SCO Culture and Integration Centre. Other decisions concern annual SCO performance reports and the 2019 performance report of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.
Adopted documents also include a statement on the 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II and statements on countering the spread of the terrorist, separatist and extremist ideology, including online, on cooperation in ensuring international information security, on countering the drug threat, on joint efforts against the novel coronavirus infection and on cooperation in the digital economy.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,
I would like to sincerely welcome all participants of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Heads of State Council.
We are holding this meeting via videoconference for understandable reasons connected with the coronavirus pandemic, but this will not prevent us from holding a business-like and constructive discussion on the current issues of interaction between our states, reviewing the results of Russians SCO Chairmanship and exchanging views on the key international and regional topics.
Of course, we also need to coordinate our future cooperation plans, in particular, discuss our joint activities and future coronavirus response measures aimed at mitigating the negative impact of the pandemic on our economies and on the global political and socioeconomic processes.
I would like to point out that not just the leaders of the eight SCO member states are taking part in this meeting, but also the leaders of the SCO observer states and heads of the permanent bodies of the organisation. In addition, we have received a video address by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
All of you have received the agenda of this meeting and the time limit on speeches has been coordinated in advance. If there are no objections, I suggest that we get down to work and announce the meeting of the Heads of State Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation open.
As per accepted practice, I would like to open this meeting by making the first statement as the head of state that holds the SCO Chairmanship, after which the other participants of this meeting will have the floor.
Russia has been leading the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation when all our countries were hit by the coronavirus and had to confront it, respond to the challenge. We had to make adjustments to our joint agenda to accommodate a greater focus on the interaction between the member states in healthcare, protecting our citizens’ lives and health.
I would like to emphasise that the SCO countries have provided and continue to provide help and support to each other in fighting the infection. Russia has donated to its SCO partners about half a million COVID-19 lab diagnostic kits, as well as contactless temperature taking instruments. Teams of Russian medical specialists have been dispatched to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and nine such missions have already been completed.
An effective exchange of data and experience has been established between the sanitary and epidemiological services and the healthcare ministries of the SCO states. I would like to just mention that today we are to approve a SCO comprehensive plan for combating epidemics, as well as a special Statement on the coronavirus agenda.
It is crucial that the pandemic has not led to a decrease in the main areas of the SCO activities.
During Russia’s chairmanship, a total of more than 60 joint events were held involving representatives of governments, departments, parliaments, businesses and public agencies. Some of these gatherings, for obvious reasons, were held online. Nevertheless, the SCO managed to maintain a high quality of engagement.
A solid package of final documents on deepening cooperation in politics, the economy and in the humanitarian sphere has been prepared for today's meeting.
I would like to note that the cooperation between the SCO states in foreign and defence policy has noticeably intensified. There have been two meetings of the foreign ministers. In September, a joint meeting of the SCO Defence Ministers was held in Moscow, in which the heads of defence departments of the CSTO and CIS countries also took part for the first time.
We consider this a useful initiative and we hope that such extended meetings of natural partners will become regular. It seems that this will encourage a qualitative increase in coordination at the level of law enforcement agencies to monitor the defence and security situation across the wider Eurasian space.
The Russian chairmanship also continued the practice of joint exercises involving the military and special units from SCO member states as well as our partners, including from observer countries.
In particular, a counter-terrorist exercise was held in Kazakhstan, China hosted an exercise against extremist uses of the Internet, and Russia carried out the first stage of the Solidarity border operation. Apart from that, Russia and Kazakhstan organised and held two Pautina (Spider Web) international anti-drug operations.
And, of course, I cannot but mention the fact that the current year has been marked by celebrations dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. All the SCO member states have focused on holding commemorative events related to this anniversary. Symbolically, units from SCO countries marched in review during the Victory Parade on Red Square in Moscow along with the Russian military.
Today, following this meeting, we will adopt a Statement, declaring that we cherish the memory of the Great Victory and underscoring the importance of the feat of valour by our peoples that saved the world from Nazism at the cost of immense and irreparable losses. In this, I see not only a tribute to those, who fought against the enemy, but also an important signal to the entire international community concerning the SCO member states’ unity and determination to jointly uphold peace and security.
It is clear to everyone that the global and regional security situation remains complicated. International terrorism and drug trafficking are still major threats. The scale of cybercrime has grown perceptibly. The strategic stability system continues to deteriorate.
Regrettably, violent regional conflicts are not ceasing either. Moreover, new seats of tension are emerging, including on the SCO’s external borders and in neighbouring regions. Therefore, one of the key components of SCO work is to assist peaceful crisis resolution by political and diplomatic means and to cut short threats emanating from the hot spots.
The situation in Afghanistan remains a matter of particular concern. A lot is being done at the SCO level to help our Afghan friends to attain national accord and build a lasting and durable peace.
The SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group has been created; it has drafted and adopted a roadmap of the organisation’s further steps with regard to Afghanistan. All this is aimed at helping Afghanistan to become a stable and safe state free of terrorism and drug-related crimes and living at peace with its neighbours.
During the past few years, Russia, working with support from the SCO, has organised a series of meetings, which were attended by representatives of all the Afghan political forces without exception. We intend to continue doing our utmost to promote national reconciliation in Afghanistan, including at the platform of the Moscow consultations where Afghanistan’s neighbours are represented, including SCO countries, of course, as well as the United States.
A dangerous level of instability persists in the Middle East and North Africa. The armed confrontation in Libya and Yemen and the remaining pockets of bandit groups in Syria are a source of terrorist threat as well as drug and arms trafficking.
The movement of terrorist fighters beyond that region deserve special attention, of course. This is exacerbating the conflicts.
On a related note, the developments in Karabakh are a huge tragedy. I am really pleased to point out the nascent movement towards a compromise and the agreements reached to stop the bloodshed. I hope that all the steps we have taken recently will bring about a lasting peace to the benefit of the people of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
One more open challenge to our common security is the increased number of attempts of direct foreign interference in the internal affairs of states that are involved in SCO activities. I am referring to the blatant infringement on sovereignty, attempts to split societies, change the countries’ path of development and sever the existing political, economic and humanitarian ties that took centuries to develop.
An attack of this kind has been directed by external forces against Belarus, an observer country of the SCO. Following the presidential election, our Belarusian friends have been put under unprecedented pressure and had to repel sanctions, provocations and an information and propaganda war waged against them.
We regard this as unacceptable that external forces are trying to enforce any decisions on the Belarusian people. They must be given time to sort things out and take whatever steps may be necessary. The same is true of the recent developments in Kyrgyzstan and the unfolding internal political fighting in Moldova.
Speaking about the economic agenda of our organisation, Russia’s chairmanship was based on the fact that all the member countries are interested in further developing business collaboration and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, manufacture, the digital economy, innovation, high technologies and food, transport and energy security.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the world economy and resulted in a global recession. Of course, our organisation has also faced difficulties. It is estimated that the economies of the SCO member states will decline by an average of 3.2 percent in 2020, which is less than elsewhere in the world, where a drop of 4.4 percent is expected. Trade between SCO member states has also decreased. For example, in January-August Russia’s trade with other member states dropped seven percent.
In this context, the SCO has developed a complex of joint measures to set the situation right: in particular, to implement the SCO Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation until 2035, which was approved in 2019. It is aimed at overcoming negative trends in mutual trade as well as significantly strengthening our ties in investment cooperation, finance and banking, energy, transport and other areas.
Businesses and public circles are actively involved in restoring the member states’ cooperation in the socioeconomic and humanitarian spheres. The Business Council, Interbank Consortium and SCO Youth Council are working. Interregional cooperation within the Forum of the Heads of Regions from the SCO member states is developing. Its first meeting took place just recently, on October 29.
I have no doubt that you, colleagues, will elaborate on the SCO activities I have mentioned, as well as on other issues, and I hope that our work today will be constructive, useful and effective.
Thank you for your attention.