International forum

On the second track. The role of civil society and public diplomacy in further development and expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO civil forum)

Organized by:

  • Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation;
  • The Institute of CIS countries.

Supported by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Administration of Krasnodar Krai and Sochi administration

Venue: Hotel Radisson Lazurnaya, 103 Kurortniy Prospect, Sochi

Dates: 19-20 April 2016

Time: 09:00-17:00

No of participants: 300 people

Executive Secretary of the Forum – Konstantin Zatulin, Head of the Working Group of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on Eurasian Integration and Support of the SCO, Director of the Institute of CIS Countries. 

The Forum will be attended by: Alexander Brechalov, Secretary of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation; Sergey Glazyev, Adviser to the President of the Russian Federation on Regional Economic Integration, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Bakhtiyer Khakimov, Russian President’s Special Envoy for Shanghai Cooperation Organization Affairs, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary; Velayati Ali Akbar, Advisor on International Affairs for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei; Anatoly Torkunov, Rector, MGIMO Institute (Moscow State Institute of International Relations), Russian MFA, Full Member of the RAS (Russian Academy of Sciences), head of Russian delegation at the X Session of SCO Forum in Khanty-Mansiysk; Luvsandandaryn Hangai, Mongolian President’s Special Envoy for Cooperation with Russia (Mongolia); Yongquan Li, Director, Institute of Russian, Eastern European & Central Asian Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (China); Muhammad Farooq Afzal, Chariman, Pakistani-Russian Business Council (Pakistan); Sergey Luzianin, Acting Director, Institute of the Far East, RAS; Rahimah Abdulrahim, Chief Executive Officer of the “Habibi-Centre” (Indonesia); Vitaliy Tretiyakov, Dean of the TV Supreme School (Faculty), Lomonosov Moscow State University; Shrikantkh Kondopalli, Head of the Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Professor (India); Andranik Migranyan, Professor, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Bulat Sultanov, Director, Research Institute of International and Regional Cooperation, Kazakh-German University, previously -  Director, Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies under the President of Kazakhstan (2005-2014) (Kazakhstan); experts, public leaders, researchers and journalists from member-states, observers, dialogue partners and prospective states for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, among them - 100 foreign participants from 23 European, Asian and African countries.

The Forum will include three sections:

  • World order, safety and fight against terrorism;
  • Economy and business. Ecology and environmental protection;
  • Interaction of cultures and religions. Education and science.

Ufa (2015) summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) demonstrated an increase in world impact by this organization which was born 14 years ago and for a long time had been viewed as a regional union of a narrow circle of countries with limited national interests. However in the last years a sensation that the SCO is gaining weight and attractiveness as a consolidating center in Euro-Asian region has been growing. And this drew its confirmation when in Ufa a process of expanding began for this organisation on account of admitting two more members into it, namely India and Pakistan.

This means qualitative change of the SCO, because, first, military, political and economic capabilities of these members are comparable with that of Russia and China. Second, admitting these two members into its membership, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in fact undertakes responsibility for settling Indian-Pakistani armed conflict. Third, there is still a territorial problem between China and India which led in particular to mutual nuclear deterrence policy. Not only security in Southern and Eastern Asia depends on settlement of these issues but also preservation of global regime of nuclear and missile non-proliferation as well as the future of building multipolar world.

Most probably the process of expanding the SCO membership will not stop on that, because Islamic Republic of Iran (the IRI) is striving to become a member and it has extremely difficult relationship with the USA and Western countries in general as well as with such regional leaders as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt. The process of lifting international (from UN Security Council) and single-sided (from the USA and its allies) financial and economic sanctions from the IRI has already started but it will gain steady character not earlier than spring 2017 after the current American administration will be changed. Nevertheless while international sanctions from Iran are being lifted, Russia supported by China will more and more actively propose expanding of the membership on account of the IRI.

In that respect gaining SCO observer status is not so crucial for Belorussia. However a European development vector of the organisation in question is appearing at the background of implementing big investment projects by Russian and China (the Eurasian Economic Union, the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt, One Belt, One Road). The latter will at the very least lead to considerable expansion of the current and development of the new transportation corridors going across the Russian Federation.

Application for participating in the SCO as an observer-country was submitted by Bangladesh, Egypt and Syria. Each of these states has serious internal problems and most of the population practices Islam. Besides, Egyptian and Syrian governments have an active fight with the opposition which as a rule has so called external sponsors.

Besides, at Ufa SCO summit status of dialogue partners was awarded to Armenia and Azerbaijan which are in fact at war over the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh. Moreover the level of armed stand-off has increased so much that it led to usage of not only conventional artillery but of multiple launch rocket system against civilians.

Taking the aforesaid into account the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation now faces extremely serious challenges which if the situation unfolds unfavorably, might lead to its considerable weakening. To oppose such scenario of further development it is desirable to maximize the potential of civil society and public diplomacy. This will allow reducing such negative factors, which already exist or will appear inevitably in the course of the SCO further development and expanding.

Due to this under the auspices of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation on the initiative of its member Mr K. F. Zatulin it was proposed to hold public discussion of integration processes within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and challenges faced by the organisation which are caused by dynamics of its development in turbulent conditions at regional and global levels. Involvement of the SCO member-state expert community (observers, dialogue partners) will allow informing public at large about development conditions and prospects of this leading international organisation.

The goal of holding SCO Forum is for expert and scholar communities of Russia, China, India, Pakistan, countries of Central Asia and many other countries to exchange views concerning development paths of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to strengthen regional security and solve the most challenging social and economic problems.

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