What to expect from upcoming SCO summit?
The SCO summit will take place this week. This will be a jubilee meeting, during which it is planned to discuss the results of 20 years of cooperation. It is worth recalling that last year's meeting was held online in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. Last year the coronavirus pandemic, the fight against the consequences and prospects for the future became the key agenda. This year everything has returned to its place, the summit will be held in a classic format in Tajikistan. As for the upcoming agenda , now the most pressing issue is the security of the region in connection with the events in Afghanistan. Vladimir Norov, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in an interview in summer spoke about the importance of the anniversary year for the SCO and what topics will be the most relevant. Thus, over the past 20 years, the main threats to security for countries come from the activities of international terrorism. “In the 21st century, challenges and threats to the security of our states come from international terrorist organizations, including the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and their sleeping cells. The problem is always in the focus of attention of the SCO, given the proximity of our region to the main hotbeds of armed conflicts. I mean neighboring Afghanistan, as well as Syria and Iraq. In these conditions, increased attention is paid to the implementation of preventive measures approved by the decision of the SCO RATS Council. Last year, thanks to the actions of the competent authorities of the SCO member states and as a result of active exchange, 288 crimes of a terrorist and religious-extremist nature were disclosed at the stage of preparation. By joint efforts, the activity of 78 underground terrorist cells was suppressed, 193 militants were neutralized, more than 1,100 members of international terrorist and religious extremist organizations and their accomplices were detained,” Norov said. This year, the command-staff exercises are planned between the SCO members. In addition, an important part of the upcoming summit will be the adoption of an updated program of cooperation in countering terrorism, separatism and extremism. In addition, a three-tier mechanism of interaction between anti-drug agencies has been created within the SCO. Up to 40% of drugs of the opium group intercepted throughout Eurasia are annually seized from illicit trafficking. Another important result of the last meeting of the heads of anti-drug departments was the approval of a draft new Work Plan for the implementation of the SCO Anti-Drug Strategy until 2023 in order to submit it to the Council of Heads of State for consideration. “On the political plane, it is of paramount importance how things will go in Afghanistan in the light of the withdrawal of American military contingents. Now this problem has acquired a new urgency for the member states. Afghanistan is an observer state to the SCO, there is SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, the meeting of which at the level of foreign ministers will be held in July at the same time as the SCO Ministerial Council session. It is necessary to work out and adopt decisions of a systemic nature on a common line with regard to Afghanistan, but this is already the prerogative of the foreign ministers,” Norov added. The economy will be another important topic of the upcoming summit. Undoubtedly, the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for a long time, but now it is necessary to start taking actions related to the way out of the crisis situation. Considering all the economic relations between the SCO member states, Norov noted in an interview that trade and economic cooperation is one of the main areas of interaction on the SCO agenda. “Appropriate prerequisites have been created for reaching a fundamentally new level in economic cooperation. There are reasons to expect a qualitative breakthrough in this direction, not only in traditional but also innovative areas such as green energy, digital economy, etc. The SCO space is a colossal market for mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation, the implementation of joint projects covering almost all sectors of the economy. The aggregate GDP of all countries of the Organization in 2020 reached 23% of the total world indicator, by 2030 it is expected to grow to 35-40% of the world GDP. The foreign trade turnover of the SCO member states amounted to more than USD 6.3 trillion. The volume of mutual trade between the member states is only 5% of this amount. An indicator that does not correspond to the existing potential at all,” Norov shared in an interview. As for priorities of the current summit, the topic of developing and adopting a plan of priority measures aimed at mitigating and overcoming the socio-economic consequences of the current crisis will be raised. Also, in the coming years, the implementation of the transit and transport potential of the SCO countries, the digital transformation of transport, the construction of new roads and railways and the formation of a single system of barrier-free green corridors for the transit of goods, including the supply of food and medicine will be in focus. Regarding last year, Norov noted that during the pandemic, the SCO members showed their solidarity and readiness to help each other if necessary. Nevertheless, the threat of coronavirus is still exists, and it is hitting health institutions hard. For an effective fight, the production of vaccines has been launched in a number of SCO member countries. “The necessary regulatory legal acts have been adopted, specialized cooperation mechanisms have been created, such as the meeting of ministers of health and the meeting of heads of services of the SCO member states responsible for ensuring sanitary and epidemiological well-being. Meetings are regularly held at the interdepartmental level, specific proposals in the field of countering the pandemic are coordinated and developed, which are then submitted to the agenda of the SCO supreme bodies," Norov said. In addition, Norov noted that the upcoming summit in Dushanbe will become a historic event, during which the leaders of the countries sum up the results of the 20-year work of the organization. Kabar News Agency