Introductory Remarks at the Enlarged Format Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State 2005-07-05 20:16:25 Astana President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Mr Chairman and President of Kazakhstan, Distinguished heads of delegations, Ladies and Gentlemen, In the year since the last Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Tashkent, our organisation has shown its sustainability and its potential to develop in line with the objectives set out in the organisation’s Charter. It is becoming an increasingly authoritative factor in international life and this is without question the main political achievement of our work together. It is pleasing to see that the geopolitical framework for our organisation’s activities is expanding. This is confirmed by our organisation being granted observer status in the United Nations General Assembly. Cooperation agreements have also been signed with ASEAN and the CIS. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is, in its turn, becoming a centre of attraction. We very much welcome the decision by India, Iran and Pakistan to join our organisation as observers and I would like to welcome our colleagues present here today. I would like to stress that we are unanimous in our desire to convert the SCO’s great potential into tangible and positive results for all its members and for the entire region. This approach is entirely reflected in the meeting’s final document – the declaration – that sets out guidelines for our work in keeping with the demands of life itself. Today, we are to discuss how to ensure stability and security in Central Asia and throughout the entire region covered by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. There is a great deal of opportunity in this respect for cooperation between our foreign policy, economic and law enforcement agencies, our special services and defence agencies. Our countries’ secretaries of Security Councils and foreign ministers met just recently in Astana and drew up practical proposals that have been included in the draft declaration. In this way we have reflected a consensus on a broad programme of action for ensuring stability and security. The Concept for Cooperation between the SCO Member States in the Fight Against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, which is on the agenda for approval today, aims at bringing greater clarity to the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure’s work. In my view, the adoption of this Concept is a very useful and timely step. As a rule, the new threats we face have a cross-border nature. But their concrete manifestations are not faceless – there are always those who give the orders and those who carry them out. Our job is not just to find and neutralise these people but, most importantly, to be one step ahead of them. For this reason we should intensify cooperation within the SCO on the fight against terrorism and work together to consolidate the efforts of the international community in key areas. We can make the SCO countries less vulnerable to and better protected against terrorist forces only if we carry out a firm combat against terrorism in parallel with cooperation to eradicate the socio-economic roots of terrorism and extremism. This requires us to work more closely together in ensuring economic growth, creating new jobs and improving the quality of people’s lives, including the cultural and humanitarian dimension. We have made good progress in economic cooperation. We have set ourselves long-term objectives, have approved plans and are putting in place the mechanisms for their implementation. But we should also not lose sight of the fact that we are still only at the beginning of the road and we must take care not to stall at this point and to keep moving forward. As you know, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Business Council has been set up since the last summit in Tashkent and the main guidelines for establishing the Development Fund have also been formulated. In particular, it is proposed to actively involve the banking community in these two projects that will serve as good additional mechanisms aimed at building up the economic component of our cooperation. These are non-governmental structures, but we must nonetheless find suitable forms of state support for them, especially during the initial stage. At the same time, these new instruments for cooperation should be rapidly integrated into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s system of bodies and mechanisms. There are good prospects for activating our work in this area because trade between our countries is growing very rapidly and we are satisfied overall with our economic cooperation. I think the time has come for us to step up our work together in the areas of culture and education. Some ideas are already being discussed. The specialists should take rapid steps to identify how we can unite our possibilities and what forms this cooperation could take. I think that modern mass communications could help us to find some original and economical proposals in this area. I would like to draw your attention to the need to develop another dimension of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s work, and that is the creation of an information system designed to counter new threats and challenges and develop cooperation between our countries. We need to begin working on this immediately and the draft declaration contains a provision to this effect. Practical implementation of this project will enable us to take systemic and effective action in this area. In conclusion I would like to express my sincere thanks to Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, for the great and important work done over the last year and for the warm and hospitable reception we always receive on Kazakh soil. Thank you very much.