The growing influence of the SCO during Uzbekistan’s chairmanship
Since its establishment, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has become a full-fledged regional organization, having established practical cooperation in the fight against terrorism, extremism, separatism, drug trafficking and others. One of the important tools of the organization is the successful work in the city of Tashkent of the Executive Committee of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO.
At the same time, the activities of the SCO are not limited to the organization of work in the sphere of security, its range is wider. The main founding documents of the organization, such as the Shanghai Declaration and the Charter, define it as a structure aimed at strengthening cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, humanitarian and other fields. This shows that the founding states of the SCO saw it as a new type of regional organization with a new type of universal agenda.
This universality of the SCO is emphasized by the deep essence of the Shanghai Spirit concept, which includes such principles as mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, mutual consultations, respect for cultural diversity, striving for common development. Consequently, despite the size of the political, military and economic power of the member states of the Organization, they are all equal. The implementation of this principle is the adoption of all decisions within the framework of the SCO based on the consensus. This allows all members of the Organization to actively participate in determining the priorities of its activities. The economic agenda is also being actively promoted within the framework of the SCO.
The key event in the life of the Organization in recent years has undoubtedly been its expansion in 2017 at the expense of two large Asian countries – India and Pakistan. Now the SCO has become one of the major trans-regional organizations, the states of which collectively wield considerable power. For example, China, Russia, India and Pakistan have the status of nuclear power, while Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council. Almost half of the world’s population lives in SCO countries, and the common space occupies 60% of the territory of Eurasia. The total GDP of the SCO states is about 23% of the world GDP.
The fundamental changes taking place in the world, with difficult to predict, unpredictable consequences against the backdrop of a lack of trust and mutual understanding at the global level, pose new challenges and tasks for the SCO. Uzbekistan, as one of the founders of the SCO, is interested in the full disclosure of its potential by increasing practical interaction in those promising areas that meet the vital interests of all countries. Therefore, the development of relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization remains an important area of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy.
For Uzbekistan, the SCO is an important multilateral platform, primarily in ensuring stability and broad cooperation in Central Asia, which continues to be the geographical axis of the SCO. A pronounced “regional emphasis” can also be seen in the importance of strengthening the SCO’s attention to the Afghan problem in the context of the more active involvement of Afghanistan in the regional process.
Uzbekistan continues to successfully chair the SCO. Disruption of traditional cooperation and logistics chains, aggravation of the situation in food and energy security, the rapid growth of inflation rates, the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in most countries of the world increase the demand for effective coordination and close multilateral cooperation to adequately respond to modern challenges to security and sustainable development.
It is no coincidence that various countries are showing an increased interest in the SCO and in establishing practical interaction with the Organization. Today, applications from more than ten countries for participation in its work in one status or another are under consideration. All this shows that the SCO is one of the most powerful organizations in terms of its political, economic, scientific and intellectual potential.
During Uzbekistan’s chairmanship in the SCO, more than 70 major events were successfully held, the coordination of 28 documents was completed, the adoption of which is envisaged following the Samarkand Summit. Among them are concepts and programs to stimulate intra-regional trade, industrial cooperation and transport connectivity. Joint projects and events in the green economy, innovations, digital technologies, logistics, agriculture, medicine and other areas are also under development.
To date, all the leaders of the SCO member states have confirmed their participation in the work of the SCO summit, which will be held on September 15 and 16 in Samarkand. The meeting will also be attended by leaders of the SCO observer countries, heads of partner organizations – the UN, the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and others. It is expected that Iran will become a member of the SCO at the summit in Samarkand and a Memorandum of Commitment of Iran as a member of the SCO will be signed. Belarus has also applied for membership in the SCO, and during the September summit, the procedure for its admission to the organization will be launched.
The upcoming SCO summit in Samarkand will make it possible to discuss such areas for further development as maintaining the non-bloc status of the organization, strengthening the potential to counter new challenges and threats, maintaining the status of the geographical axis of the SCO for Central Asia, promoting cross-border connectivity projects and more actively involving Afghanistan in regional economic processes. All of this shows Uzbekistan’s commitment to further strengthening friendship and good neighborliness, full-scale cooperation in the SCO space in the interests of countries and peoples.
Head of Sector at the Executive Committee
of the Political Council of UzLiDeP