President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear heads of delegations, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to welcome all the heads of member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Today is our second event, the plenary session. We consider this meeting to be the culminating event of the Russian Federation's presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Active participation in SCO affairs and in the development of multifaceted cooperation within the association has long been one of the key priorities of Russian foreign policy. We see this work as a means of improving partnerships, strengthening the Organisation's cohesion, addressing common challenges and enhancing the international range of our organisation's influence.
Of course all SCO members and observer states have to take into account the difficult political and economic situation that currently exists in the world. This was the main subject of discussion today. However, I would like to express my conviction at the beginning of the plenary session that by working together – and this includes joint projects – we can overcome all the challenges that face our countries today.
Colleagues, the discussions held yesterday and today show that our general estimates of the situation, which involves the entire global financial and economic space currently subjected to this crisis, continue to a large extent to be similar or even identical to what we thought we'd be facing. Therefore, our responses to the current challenges will also be similar.
The general opinion is that we need to deal in systemic fashion with the difficulties that have arisen, something that involves close cooperation within SCO and between our organisation and other international organisations and institutions.
Today, it is essential to work on developing new standards for the regulation of financial markets and financial institutions. This has been discussed in various forums. The leading economies have made a number of important decisions at the G20, but that work is far from finished; in fact, it has hardly begun.
I believe that our work in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation can create mechanisms that will help us overcome the crisis. Of course we believe that we need to cooperate in a variety of forums and use a series of different tools.
In this connection the Russian side is suggesting that we hold an ad hoc meeting of experts within the framework of the SCO, with the participation of financial institutions, representatives of the SCO Business Council and its Interbank Association. This idea is in keeping with the proposals made by the People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan and other colleagues to conduct meetings with the ministers of finance and chairpersons of national or central banks. All of these mechanisms can be very useful at this stage.
Of course, we must think about not only overcoming the current financial crisis but also developing our relations, as well as providing security in other areas, including the energy sector. We have already discussed the need for a new foundation for cooperation, but I think that within the framework of the SCO we can continue to discuss different countries' initiatives and those of the Russian Federation, among others. This could be done within the framework of the SCO Energy Club, or in another special SCO forum. I am convinced that we must continue these discussions in one form or another.
There are other problems that colleagues have raised today, including issues of food security because in effect, as someone pointed out, the food crisis goes hand in hand with the crisis in the economic sphere. And here I think we have to make a considerable effort as well.
We talked about how to promote a number of economic programmes in addition to using various financial instruments. That discussion began yesterday and I think that our colleagues will obviously want to say more about it. I am referring to increasing the importance of various national currencies in mutual settlements to avoid becoming too dependent on the problems associated with one or more reserve currencies, as well as putting some of our foreign exchange reserves in our partners' financial instruments.
I think that this is also extremely important because no monetary system, certainly not the global monetary system, can succeed if the financial instruments it uses are denominated in a single currency. And as we know this is currently the case with the American dollar.
Of course we must strengthen the international monetary system, not only by strengthening the dollar but also by creating new reserve currencies with the possibility of perhaps eventually creating supra-national means of payment and renumeration.
Despite the difficulties we have a programme of multilateral trade and economic cooperation in place and an action plan to implement this programme. Yesterday we heard some interesting ideas about the mutual protection of investments. I think our colleagues can elaborate on this idea. We can use other mechanisms of public-private partnership as a way of encouraging economic cooperation. Our colleagues are currently allocating additional funds to do precisely this. I think that this is also a topic for discussion.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation aims to improve contacts among member states and to improve our work not only in the economic sphere — although today this is obviously very important, perhaps the most important area – but also in other areas related to our security.
In my view, measures taken to combat terrorism and drug trafficking in recent years confirm our organisation's potential in dealing with difficult issues. For example, we held a special conference on Afghanistan in Moscow in March of this year that was attended by representatives of 36 governments and international organisations. It came up with a series of recommendations that seem to me a good basis for working together in this area, along with other undertakings concerning Afghanistan and in liaison with other international organisations.
We have an effective integrated system to deal with challenges and threats. We employ a whole range of formats, including meetings of Security Council secretaries and ministers of defence.
And there are new forums for such interaction, such as meetings of ministers of the interior and the heads of anti-drug agencies. I think that all these activities are useful and provide additional space for the coordination of our joint anti-terrorist and anti-drug efforts.
Today we will be adopting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation convention against terrorism, a programme for cooperation in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism for the period 2010–2012, and a collection of political and diplomatic measures and mechanisms for ensuring the responsiveness of our organisation. Of course this will enhance the legal basis of our work and create a solid foundation for addressing a number of very significant challenges.
In my opinion the agreement on cooperation in the preparation of anti-terrorism personnel and ensuring international information security is a good investment. We must continue with this work.
I would also like to highlight the work being done by the departments that deal with the prevention of emergency situations: there were meetings of those in charge, joint exercises and exhibitions of special equipment. I think that this kind of work should also be continued and we look forward to the speedy implementation of agreements on the establishment of the special SCO emergency response centre [SCO Centre for Prevention of Natural and Man-made Disasters].
Ideas for cooperation in the field of disaster medicine deserve our support. This is unfortunately true for every country, because disasters happen everywhere and require an instant response. We are trying to organise this more effectively.
There has been progress in the area of health care: during the Russian presidency there have been meetings of leading physicians, international conferences and discussions of specific problems. I think that inter-governmental and inter-institutional coordination to combat various infectious diseases is also very important.
Meetings and discussions under the auspices of ministries of culture, joint exhibitions and festivals need our support. I think that such programmes are also very useful for our organisation.
It is important to move ahead with the idea of a network of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation universities. On this topic we need to finalise the selection of the major universities to be included. The Education Week that was recently held in Moscow, including a forum for presidents of our countries' leading universities, was very helpful in this regard. I think that we must build on this experience in the future.
We are engaged in strengthening our organisation's influence, developing partnerships both among the member countries and with multilateral groups. Today we will decide on the dialogue partner status for two nations: Belarus and Sri Lanka. Such a step will also enhance the capabilities of our organisation.
At the same time I would particularly like to say this: we have discussed this issue and we all agreed that we need to accelerate the preparation of a draft document that will detail procedures for admission of new members to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Such work is already under way. The instruction has been given, but we need to complete this work and to prepare a regulatory procedural framework for the relevant steps.
From January 1, 2010 the secretariat of the SCO and the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti -Terrorist Structure will be headed by representatives of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan respectively. On this occasion I would like to thank Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Bolat Nurgaliev and Director of the Executive Committee of the Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure Myrzakan Subanov for their strong and effective contribution to strengthening the cooperation of SCO member states. I think that this is something we all feel.
Today Uzbekistan takes on the presidency of the SCO. Naturally I would like to congratulate our colleague, President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov, as his country assumes this mission and wish our colleagues from Uzbekistan every success. Of course we will actively support Uzbekistan in carrying out this work.
In conclusion I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our colleagues, all our partners for the support they have given the Russian Federation during our presidency. Everything we did was aimed at developing relations of friendship and cooperation between our countries, at strengthening our organisation and confronting the challenges and threats that we all face today.
I am confident that we will continue to work in this vein. In any event once again I wish to emphasise that the work of the SCO will remain a key priority of Russian foreign policy.