Speech at a Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) 2008-08-28 18:21:45 Dushanbe President Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Emomali Sharipovich! Dear Colleagues! First of all, I would like to congratulate our gracious hosts on the successful completion of the presidency of the SCO and to thank them for their very important work, as well as for the wonderful atmosphere that they have created and that has characterised our meetings here in Tajikistan. One of the key reasons for creating the SCO was an awareness of the need to coordinate efforts to consolidate regional security and stability. Today, that need is more acute than ever. We believe and we will continue to believe that these goals can only be achieved on the basis of respect for international law and a refusal to think in terms of blocs and and confrontation. Unfortunately, at the same time we cannot ignore the ongoing attempts by some to pursue their interests by resorting to violence: for example, the criminal and irresponsible actions taken by Georgia in its attack on South Ossetia. Everybody knows who, in the pursuit of their own selfish goals, condoned and even incited this attack by the Georgian authorities. This behaviour is inexcusable and must be dealt with decisively. In these extraordinary circumstances we will continue to adopt the same responsible approach in the region that we have always taken. We are grateful for your understanding and your objective assessment of Russia's peacemaking efforts. We are confident that the position of the member states of the SCO will receive appropriate international support. And I hope that this will send an important signal to those who are trying to argue that black is white and that the most blatant aggression is justified. Dear Colleagues! One of the most important activities of the SCO remains the fight against terrorism, and in this area the SCO anti-terrorist structures are active in the region. All the work done to ensure security during the splendid, recently concluded Olympics in Beijing constitutes a good example of cooperation between the special services of member states. As someone has already observed, I am sure that we will have to call again on this sort of cooperation in the future. In the near future the Volgograd Antiterrorism 2008 exercises will be held in Russia, in which our countries' respective agencies will work on ways of protecting people and critical energy infrastructure facilities. We are also working on the legal framework of counter-terrorism cooperation. Today we will be signing agreements on cooperation in combating illicit weapons trafficking and on the procedure for organising and holding joint anti-terrorism exercises. In particular, there will be increased emphasis on combating drug trafficking, which has become a major source of funding for terrorist activity. Russia proposes to develop an SCO strategy and a programme of joint action to combat drug trafficking, as well as a coordinating mechanism to conduct the anti-drug activities of the interior ministries and public security ministries of SCO member states. We will work with Afghanistan on the various threats that exist, including drug trafficking. The Dushanbe Declaration adopted today establishes the joint support of member states for the Russian initiative to hold a conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of the SCO. I am sure that this will enable us to develop a specific set of proposals. Establishing the capacity for rapid political and diplomatic reaction by the SCO to situations threatening peace, security and stability in the region will constitute an effective tool to counter new threats and challenges. We expect that our partners in the Organisation will quickly approve the draft provision on the mechanism to ensure such a reaction that has been prepared by the Russian side. An important area of cooperation has been the exchange of international information concerning security. Of particular relevance here are issues such as the internationalisation of the management of the global Internet network. In this connection the Russian side is ready to offer its ideas and plans for consideration by the expert group. The desire of some states to become full members of the Organisation is evidence of the SCO's burgeoning international authority. Today we are deciding on the formation of a working group for the study of the political, legal, organisational and financial aspects of the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We attach particular importance to meaningful measures for facilitating cooperation with observer states. This would involve their participation in anti-terrorism activities. The provision that was recently adopted at the suggestion of the RATS [Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure] of the SCO envisages this. Representatives of observer states are also invited and will be invited to attend meetings of transport ministers and ministers responsible for foreign economic relations. We have agreed to consider additional opportunities for direct dialogue in the framework of the SCO summits, including meetings between heads of member states and heads of observer states. This could also be useful. A major step in facilitating cooperation with interested states and international organisations is the establishment of what we have designated as dialogue partners with the SCO. This is a clear confirmation of the SCO's openness to cooperation with those who sincerely desire it. Dear summit participants! Economic cooperation is one of the most important activities that the Shanghai Organisation has traditionally engaged in. Our actions in this area should take into account the specifics of the Organisation as well as general trends in economic development. In our view, it would be useful to focus on what we have designated as project activities, including those involving large amounts of capital investment, in order to facilitate the development of direct contacts between businessmen, and enhance the authority of the SCO Business Council and its Interbank Association. There are many promising areas of cooperation: the improvement of ground-based infrastructure, the alignment of transcontinental routes and the initial activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's Energy Club. In the first instance the latter consists in building business links between our countries' energy companies, extending cooperation in interbank funding for so-called venture capital and other projects, and facilitating the spread of modern information technologies. Concrete steps in these areas will ensure that our economic interaction is real and productive. Meanwhile we can avoid pointless competition by using other means of integration and cooperation. The business community is willing to participate in addressing these challenges. Proof of this is the signing of the memorandum today on the basics of partnerships between the SCO Interbank Association and the Eurasian Development Bank. We believe that it is important for the SCO to extend cultural links, cooperation in education and health care, and youth and cultural exchanges. Projects such as the establishment of the University of the SCO, the establishment of youth associations, interaction in the sphere of sanitation, prevention of infectious diseases and the fight against epidemics are not only in the interest of member states of the SCO but may also be of interest to observer states. Dear colleagues, today Russia assumes the important role of chair of the SCO for 2008–2009. We are determined to do our utmost to strengthen coordination mechanisms of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, extend mutually beneficial cooperation on all fronts, and encourage the further growth of our Organisation in the international arena. And we will dedicate ourselves to these activities. I am confident that as the result our joint efforts we will meet these and many other challenges. I look forward to seeing you all in Yekaterinburg in the first half of June next year.