Address at the meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State 2012-06-07 08:00:00 Beijing President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has achieved a resounding success: it has established itself as an authoritative international organisation and has become an important player in international politics. However, new challenges in global politics and the economy, which all of us are aware of, require that we take a deep and thoughtful approach and optimise the activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. A shared vision of priorities and solutions is fixed in the main objectives of SCO’s development strategy, which we are to adopt today. Based on the results of this document’s implementation, we will prepare an ambitious programme of SCO’s future efforts. Our key focus remains on regional security and stability. That is the main objective of the 2013–2015 SCO member states’ programme for cooperation in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism and the new draft provisions on political and diplomatic measures and response mechanisms in situations that threaten peace, security and stability in the region. Both these documents are to be adopted today. Good results have been demonstrated by the mechanism of consultations between the foreign ministries with the participation of SCO member states and observers. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure remains the main platform for strengthening cooperation in the fight against new challenges and threats. There is also untapped potential in the most active involvement of observer states and dialogue partners. We have drafted and approved the Regulations and the Standard Protocol of Intent. However, competent observer authorities have not joined in the efforts of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure. I think that the crucial challenges facing this structure require that we accelerate our efforts and make the transition to practical cooperation with our partners. Our defence agencies have much experience in counter-terrorism cooperation. They began by holding annual meetings, and have progressed to fieldwork, as they say in the military. The joint exercises Peace Mission are a good example of such cooperation. They will be held again in Tajikistan one week from today. The 2011–2016 SCO Anti-Drug Strategy adopted a year ago at a summit in Astana serves as a basis for regional cooperation in combatting drugs. Last year, at Russia’s initiative, a prevention operation was held jointly with China and Kazakhstan, as a result of which over four hundred drug-related crimes were solved. The SCO Secretariat has established contacts with the International Narcotics Control Board and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The importance of stepping up efforts in this sphere was noted at the narrow-format meeting yesterday. I believe that this can be achieved, including by establishing a universal centre for combating terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. We already have an agency for combatting terrorism, which I have already mentioned: it is RATS. That agency could be made universal and given additional functions of coordinating the fight against drugs. The prevention of terrorism and extremism is an equally important task, and public institutions, the media, religious groups, nongovernmental organisations, education, science and business must all become involved in the effort. We need an inter-faith dialogue, and in the context of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a dialogue between civilisations. This is stated in the main provisions of the SCO Development Strategy and the final Declaration, which we will sign today. Since we have reached a consensus on this issue, we could instruct our Foreign Ministries to work out the principles of launching such a dialogue and its format. Our priorities include stepping up economic cooperation. The SCO’s focus is promoting large-scale joint projects; therefore it is vital to accelerate the preparation of a clear and comprehensive list of activities for expanding SCO projects. The SCO Business Council makes a significant contribution to the development of economic cooperation. It has been headed for six years by a Russian national, Mr Mezentsev, whose candidacy we would like to propose for the post of SCO Secretary-General. I am certain that he will continue to pay close attention to continued improvement of the SCO’s economic dimension. The Business Council has submitted an interesting proposal on the establishment of transport and logistics systems, in particular in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Region, as well as a network of technoparks in the regions of Russia and Kyrgyzstan. There are other promising proposals. We have high hopes for the activities of the inter-bank association. Recently, an agreement was signed by SCO members’ banks on cooperation in the implementation of environmental protection and energy conservation projects. Another crucial document will be signed today: the agreement between the inter-bank association members on providing services to and promoting the development of the economy’s real sector. Cooperation in the humanitarian sphere has been developing dynamically as well. Important events in the fields of culture and education were held as part of the good-neighbourly relations and friendship year, and strong contacts were established between SCO states’ youth organisations. I will single out China’s initiative to convene the Forum of Young Leaders in August 2011 and the Russian proposal to meet in Russia’s Altai Region in November for a youth forum on entrepreneurship and cross-border cooperation. The SCO Network University has been developing successfully, as my colleagues have already mentioned here today. The administration of this institution will be based in Moscow, and 65 leading universities of SCO member states are already involved in the project. We have always advocated closer cooperation between the SCO and Afghanistan. The organisation has already made a considerable contribution to addressing the Afghan problem. President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has been taking part in our annual summits since 2004. The International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Moscow in March 2009 under the SCO aegis. Consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers focused on the Afghan problem take place on a regular basis, twice a year. Today, we will discuss the issue of granting SCO observer status to Afghanistan. We hope that this will allow our Afghan friends to make an even greater contribution to the development of regional cooperation. SCO is an open organisation, which advocates expanding cooperation with multilateral bodies and states. We welcome everyone who seeks to cooperate with the SCO, and there is no doubt we made the right decision when we granted Turkey the status of dialogue partner. Many of you here know about the joint efforts of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus to establish the Eurasian Economic Union. We have created a Customs Union and Common Economic Space. Today the SCO should upgrade its contacts with regional organisations established by the former Soviet states, such as EurAsEC, the Eurasian Economic Commission and Organisation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in the security sphere. In 2004 at the initiative of the Russian Federation, heads of SCO states addressed international organisations in the Asia-Pacific region with a proposal to form a partnership network of multilateral organisations. Much has been done in this respect: we have established fruitful cooperation with ASEAN, the CSTO and CIS, we will soon sign a memorandum with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). It would be beneficial to establish relations with such an influential structure as BRICS. We are aware that some countries in the region wish to work more closely with the SCO. I propose that we instruct our Foreign Ministries to study this issue and prepare for the next year’s summit in Kyrgyzstan a decision on universal financial, legal and administrative conditions for the admission of new members. Naturally, the basic interests of the founding states must be respected, and such decisions should always be adopted by a consensus. In conclusion, I would like to thank President of China Hu Jintao for the extensive work done by him personally and all our Chinese friends and partners during China’s presidency. The functions of the presidency in the SCO now pass to Kyrgyzstan. I wish our Kyrgyz friends every success in this demanding and responsible mission. On our part, we are ready to provide you with all necessary assistance and support. Thank you for your attention.